Return to Website

Number Watch Web Forum

This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.

Number Watch Web Forum
Start a New Topic 
Author
Comment
Modern Computing

I really need to get into the business of charging for my expertise in system recovery.

I apologize if this is "Off Topic".

Just about anyone can fix their computer with a few simple concepts.

1. Backups (Make sure the data that makes your life easier doesn't die).
2. Scorch and Burn (When the computer refuses to boot, Re-install Windows and reformat the harddrive when asked).

If you aren't clever enough to backup (Stop looking at me), here are a couple of other nifty things to know.

Knoppix and Ubuntu have bootable CD's that can often let you boot and recover data before Scorch and Burn.

Here in the states you can buy an external USB 2.0 160 Gb hard drive for about $100. When the trouble above happens, buy one, find a neighbor or Kinkos that has the ability to download and burn a copy of Knoppix/Ubuntu and recover your data.

Did I mention Slash and Burn?

Starting with a clean install of your operating system is something we all should do at least once every couple of years. It is getting easier to not do this though.

Then of course there is the part of the equation that is really difficult to analyse => Fix computer or Buy New one. For $400, I can buy a computer that is 4 times as fast, has 4 times the memory, and 10 times the disk space.of my current one. Admittedly, mine was top of the line when I bought it (~$2000 in 2000) and the $400 is the bottom now, but that equation is really difficult to embrace.

Re: Modern Computing

Why would anyone wish to install Windoze? (Anyway I doubt if it would run on my Macs

Re: Re: Modern Computing

But it will on the new macs -->

In an effort to help the world pull out their hair faster, you can now use BootCamp to install Windows XP natively on your Core Due equipped Macs.

Re: Modern Computing

I had all that, Brad,including the USB external hard drive. The trouble was Norton was telling me everything was fine when it wasn't. Fortunately I had backed all the data files separately. The system backup was not working properly because of read errors on the internal hard drive, and putting the system together afterwards is a pain.

Re: Re: Modern Computing

Another option is to obtain an external usb housing and IDE drive, and then do a full clone of the system disk. (I'm using xxcopy to do this.)

In the event of significant hard drive flakiness, you just swap out the old drive and swap in the clone. It's also a good way to upgrade.

As far as new computers, I bought this one 2 years ago for $25. ($5 for the computer and $20 for shipping.) It's about time to go looking again for an upgrade, and then do it so you don't have to do a crash fix, (and the old PC is available for backup.)

Re: Re: Re: Modern Computing

$5 sounds like a bargain Frank.

It's Ok doing backups all the time and the clone idea is something like the pattern i have followed, though less rigourously in recent times - since XP in effect! But I have 2x120Gb drives in my current desktop, 1 of which is full and the other heading that way, and 1x80Gb in the notebook which is also full.

The backups take some time when I do them - which is not often, though I will confess that some of the space is taken up with what are in effect backups.

My 'worry' is that to provide time for the system to complete the backup (and a backup of the backup as I really should have an off-site backup as well shouldn't I?) I would be forced to run the machines overnight. Now I do that currently anyway even if nothing is scheduled for them but those who look after the planet are telling me I must switch everything off to reduce my carbon footprint.

Clearly there is a conflict.

What should I do about it I wonder?

Re: Re: Modern Computing

I don't know if I mentioned my other plan.

Buy a New Cheap computer.

You have Norton installed?

I may be considered irresponsible for doing this, but I refuse to put Norton or Mcaffee on my home computer. I have Mcaffee at work, but I would like to get rid of it. For some reason the "Virus" protection software acts more like a virus than actual virii. I have had Norton on my system in the past and noted that trying to get anything done was challenging because it seemed to be constantly scanning.

The only time I have had difficulty with a virus was when my father said "Oh I wonder what that file is" and downloaded it, from what was obviously a corrupted computer.

I think I need to uninstall Mcaffee at work. That might get it back up to speed again.

Re: Re: Re: Modern Computing

Brad said:

"You have Norton installed?"

Not if I can help it, for the same reasons that you mention.

I run the free version of AVG which seems to work very well. I was talking to a friend - a 40 year veteran of the computing world whose opinions I greatly respect - a couple of days ago and he said the same, though he uses a different free virus checker which seems as unintrusive as AVG or maybe even more so.

I get really annoyed when new machines come with 90 day trials of Norton or McAfee installed. However I fear that uninstalling them may be detrimental to the stability of the machine (I don't trust uninstall processes for that sort of intrusive program) so I tend to leave them there but disable as much as I can find of them.

Grant

Re: Modern Computing

Grant, I agree with you. I've been using AVG for about 2 years now, no problem. I have installed the last version (AVG antivirus 7.5 and AVG Anti-Spyware 7.5) plus Zone Alarm firewall). I recently bought a Dell duo-core laptop and uninstalled McAffee, installed those above. In addition, I recommend Executive Software Diskeeper 10 for disk defragmentation. It's fast and defragments in the background. You hardly notice it. Nor free, but worth it. Many disk problems can be caused by extremely fragmented disks.

Best,
Jaime

Re: Re: Modern Computing

Jaime, I tend to rely on XP to do the defragmentation as it says it should. I don't think it is very effective but then it never indicates that it is working. However there are times when something is using all the disk I/O (my disks tend to be very full so re-organising sets a challenge, especially with some of the very big files) and when I try to do things it can be rather tardy for some time. Until the process, whatever it is, stops. It does not submit to forms of interruption!

Mostly it does not worry me, though you have reminded me it is time to do a manual check run soon.

Of course the 'carbon footprint' of this sort of activity, together with running backups, is huge since it is best to leave the equipment to run overnight or at other times when it is not really in 'use' as such. As we all know nothing should be left running under those circumstances. Maybe I should also disconnect my electronic alarm clock when I go to bed? I assume a clockwork clock would be much preferred in green circles.

Just checked my notebook. XP wants to defrag - which is odd beacuse it has had several days of no use to get on with it in the background. But I have only 1% free and XP likes 15% of the disk to be free for effective defragmenation. Oh well, I set it the task anyway. I must get around to moving stuff to my external drive.