Saturday, January 9, 2016

A geeky rescue...

A geeky rescue...  My friend and neighbor Tim D. had something of a computer emergency earlier this week.  His ancient Dell refused to boot, and made funny noises.  I checked it out for him, but it was deader than the proverbial door nail.  Not a hint of video, no audio, and no disk noises.  All I could really detect was the symptoms of a power supply in agony, which could be either the power supply itself, or something else drawing way too much power.  Tim didn't want to invest a lot of time or effort in it, so decided to upgrade to a new Dell: smaller, quieter, faster, and half the price.

Here's the rub, though: he had years of photos and documents on that old Dell that he really didn't want to lose.  He never backed up locally, of course.  He did have some kind of cloud backup running - but he had no idea what his account name or password might be.  Oh, my.

So today I went over to help him with his new machine.  First thing I noticed: the thing was larded up with an unconscionable amount of crapware, some of which was really obnoxious with the scary, misleading pop up screens full of doom-laden technobabble.  Sheesh.  I got rid of most of that, but at least one thing is still installed, forcing all of his web searches to go to Yahoo.  Shame, Dell.  I will never buy one of your machines again, nor will I recommend them.  Just awful.

Next I tried to figure out whether his Internet connection was up to snuff.  He's paying for a 105/50 connection, but his cable modem had a blinking orange light - likely some sort of problem.  Comcast told him to ignore the light.  I ran a speed test, and he's only getting a 13/12 connection - horrible, and not even close to what he's paying for.  He and I are declaring war on Comcast Commies!

Then I tried to figure out a way to log into his backup service.  Finally I got the account password reset, logged into his backup service - and discovered that he'd never actually backed up anything at all!  That meant that all his photos and documents existed in only one place: his old computer's hard disk.  Which, of course, might not be in working order.  Yikes!

So I removed his old hard disk, took it back to our house, and rifled through my boxes of junk to look for a magic widget I bought a couple of years ago.  This thing turns any SATA or IDE disk into a USB disk.  If Tim were really, really lucky, that would mean that I could mount that old disk on my Mac as an external drive, and recover his files.

Well, Tim must be doing something right, because that old disk spun right up.  Further, my Mac already had a read-only NTFS file system driver installed - so I could read it with no fuss at all.  A few minutes of work with the Finder and I had all his files on a thumb drive.  A half hour or so later, they were on his new computer.  Yay!

Now I've got him running on BackBlaze, my favorite cloud backup ... and I've recorded his credentials so he doesn't get in trouble like this again!  He'll have to find some new way to live dangerously :)

No comments:

Post a Comment