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June 12, 2010
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June 17, 2010

My data backup is worthless

Every once in a while, a customer will call us a few days later with this very statement. ” This data backup you made is worthless!”

I always ask ” Why do you say that?” The three most common responses:

  1. I cant find any of my stuff
  2. I cant re-install my programs
  3. What is all this junk?

Lets start with issue 1

The computer stores data differently than how we  see it while we use it. Some of the storage folders are dynamic, meaning they change names depending on the user. For instance, in Windows XP, the MY Documents folder, actually doesn’t exist. Each user has a folder called my documents, and it is located at c:\Documents and settings\%username%\My documents.

If you go looking for c:\ my documents, you wont find it. If there is only one user, there is no telling what the actual user name is. It was set up when you first put your name into your pc. If you have a used system, it could be anything. Even if you change your display name, the computer does not change the c:\Documents and settings\%username%\to match.

So when you get your data backup, look to see how many users there are, and look through all the user files. Your things are in there, somewhere.

Now on to issue 2)

You can’t re-install programs from a basic data backup. We actually go to great lengths to explain this as early as possible in the repair process. The basic data backup copies your files, folders, and whatever else is readable from your old hard drive to your new hard drive or disc.

The reason you can’t re-install from the backup, is because you need the actual program to install itself. When you install a program, the installer program copies the files you need for your particular system from the cd to the pc. Then you take the cd out and save it (hopefully). What gets copied to the pc is not the entire cd, and is not enough for the program to re-install itself without the original install cd.

Some of the older windows 95-98 programs were so small, they may have actually copied the entire “floppy” to the pc. Then you could re-install from the pc because you have a copy of the floppy.

It may be a bit confusing, but they try to save space on the hard drive by not copying everything. They assume you will keep the cd in case you have to re-install………

Lastly issue 3)

We don’t know!  Seriously, how did you get all this stuff?

The Personal in Personal Computer means that everyone’s computer is different. The things you install, download, save, will not be the same as the next person. There is no way for me to know what you have and where you put it.

Most programs put things in the same place by default. The end user (you) can still change that. Every time you save, it asks where do you want to put it. If you use the same folder that comes up each time, then everything will be there.The computer is even programmed to open up to the last place you saved before!

Sounds good right? Until you (or someone) accidentally switches the location, now all your old stuff is not in the same place with your new stuff.

Think of it as trying to cook in a strangers kitchen. Where are the big pans? Small pans? Whipping spoons? Tops, bottoms, lefts, rights? It’s THEIR kitchen. You have no idea where their stuff is. You have to go hunting. Hopefully its in places that make sense. Hopefully you don’t have to look behind the fridge for the spoons, and in the garage for the bowls.

That’s how we handle customers data hunts. We can look in the most sensible places, or the places where most programs put the data.  If it’s not there, who knows where it is.

If you don’t, then we definitely do not. We can help you find it, just takes a little time. We don’t mind spending the time, you are in fact, our best customer!