My hard drive died a couple of weeks ago. I only got the computer back from the shop yesterday (more on that in a minute).
Everybody who lives through this kind of thing learns some lessons. Mine was: Despite using XP Media Center’s backup function faithfully and backing up to an outboard hard drive, which appears to have saved most or all of my data, many of my apps are now gone for good. Among them was Office, although after I raised hell with the repair shop, they installed a temporary version I supposedly can combine with my authorization key to make permanent. (I’ve finally found my disc for the permanent version, so worst case, I can reinstall. Still….)
But I had a number of other apps for multimedia, and they apparently are either outright gone or else fatally damaged. Among them were Photoshop Elements, Premiere (video capture/editing), an audio editing suite, Click 2 DVD (video capturing and DVD burning), and others, enough to make me a one-man multimedia center, lacking only Flash and something like Dreamweaver for creating Web pages. They were factory-installed on the original hard drive, with no discs accompanying the computer. Their total replacement value is somewhere north of $2,500. And they’re gone for good. Also gone: Norton Antivirus (and my attempts to install AVG freeware have been running into problems).
Interestingly, it was my freeware apps that seemed to survive in the best shape. Firefox, IrfanView (photo-editing), Ad-Aware antispyware, Audacity audio-editing software and most of the others survived, by and large. But the expensive stuff? Bye-bye.
I also was underwhelmed by both the quality of the work this place did and the length of time it took them to do it. In particular, when they called me to get authorization for the work after running a diagnostic, I specifically asked them to recover both data and apps. No one told me they couldn’t recover the apps. Had I known that, I might have looked into getting a new computer rather than trying to fix the one I’ve got. Also annoying: They appear to have created a new user, one that isn’t listed among options for sign-in but under which most of my data appears to be stored if you look at the DOS directory. I’m not going to name the place here on the blog, but the parent company is going to be getting a long list of specific complaints.
So, to protect your stuff, learn more about backing up than I did. And do it regularly. Mean time to failure for hard drives is something like 5 1/2 years, but that means a lot die much sooner than that. My repair bill would have paid for a slightly-better-than-low-end laptop, and if I had really needed the multimedia apps for work, I’d be looking at that repair bill PLUS close to two grand for a new PC.
And software makers: Get over yourselves and start including discs with the PCs to which you license your stuff. I don’t give a rat’s hind end if it costs you more.