How to Save Your Computer and its Data

Replacing a computer is easy enough, but retrieving the lost data that was stored there can be expensive and incomplete. Here are a few ways you can ensure you've got a paddle left once you end up the creek.

Computers can be temperamental, serving up a glitch or more a day to frustrated users. Not as frequent, but a lot scarier, is a hard-drive crash. And as computer geeks say, it’s not whether your hard drive will fail, it’s when. Given those odds, your best bet is to be prepared for the day your hard drive bites the dust.

When your hard drive gives up, you can replace it or buy a new computer. That’s the easy part. The real loss in a hard-drive disaster is the information on the drive. To save that, you should have back-up storage available. One of the simplest options is an external hard drive. For less than $100, you can get an external drive that can hold every file and program on your PC, making the restoration process a snap. Backing up your data onto DVD disks is cheaper but more labor intensive, plus you run the risk of damage or loss. Tip: If you don’t have back-up capability, get it now.

Things have improved a bit since the ENIAC days

But what if you weren’t foresighted enough to back up your drive? Recovering that lost data can get expensive. You can call on a computer professional to try to recover your files, but expect to pay upwards of $300 for the service. Even pricier are data recovery specialists who can charge $300 or more, just for their software. But if you have critical files on the failed disk, the service could be worth far more than whatever you pay.

As for repairing that now useless computer, a hard drive is fairly simple to replace for some one who is reasonably tech-savvy. Anything more complex than that may cost you well more than price of a new computer. If you do buy a new one, remember to get an extended warranty in case your hard drive does a swan dive again.