Computer crashes are a modern-day disaster, especially for businesses. We depend on these magical machines to do everything for us and we expect they will never ask for anything in return. Unfortunately, too many people and businesses have already found out that computers do need a little TLC to keep things running smoothly. Your computer is much more than just a simple tool. Once you accept that, you will strive to take better care of the machine.
Armed with a little know how, you can learn to minimize the pain caused by hard drive and total computer crashes. Strategies for coping with computer crashes are three fold. First, you must take preventative measures to ensure a crash never happens. Second, you need to have a backup if for some reason your preventative measures did not work. Third, you need to learn the steps to take once your computer does crash and how to retrieve important business information.
- Run the bare minimum: Most computer crashes are the result of overuse of your computer’s memory. Basically, you are running too many programs all at once. You might not even know what all is running, but if you make a point to shut down programs not in use then you will ensure your machine runs faster and smoother for the programs you are using.
- Extra disk space: Although your computer may say you have an extra 250-500mb of disk space available, it will run a lot better if you have more. Right click on your C: drive from “my computer” and select properties to see how much disk space is available. As long as you stay above 500mb at all times, you shouldn’t run into any problems. If you see your computer screen freezing up frequently, it is most likely the result of not having enough disk space.
- Keep clean: Just like an oil change on a car, you need to clean out the system every once in a while. Once per month, run the disk cleanup and disk defragmenter (located in program files) to give your computer a fresh start.
- Virus protection: Viruses may not seem like a big deal now, but once your machine catches one of the big bugs it may never return to normal. Choose one reputable virus protection software and keep it updated. You don’t necessarily need it on at all times as long as you remember to run a scan once a week or month to keep your machine free of bugs.
- Stay updated: Although it may seem like a never ending release of updates for your computer, it is important to stay up to date with the latest patches and operating system. The reason updates are released is because they found problems with the last version and fixed them; so if you don’t update you will be using software more susceptible to crashes.
- Eating and computing: It may seem like a no brainer, but keep the food and drinks away from your computer if it is important to your business. Don’t risk a coffee spill that will potentially cost you thousands.
- Monthly backups: There are several large companies on the Internet that offer data backup services for a small monthly fee. If your data is important to you, these backups are vital. They will take an image of your hard drive or even sync every file when it’s updated and when the dreadful computer crash occurs, everything will still be intact.
- Multiple hard drives: For the not-so-computer-savvy folks, one hard drive seems fine. But, one hard drive can crash and leave you without any backup of your files. Get a computer geek friend of yours to help you set up multiple hard drives. One hard drive should have all of your files, another should be a backup of all your files, and another should run your operating system. This way if one fails, you can easily switch it out and never skip a beat.
- Daily archiving: Choose a location on your drive that will host all of your important documents (not executable program files) and install software that archives those documents nightly.
- Multiple methods: Don’t just count on having three hard drives or doing online backups, do both simultaneously. If one backup method fails for some reason, you have another safety net.
What to do post computer crash
- Stop, drop, and roll: Ok, you do not need to drop and roll around on the floor (unless there is, in fact, a fire), but you definitely need to stop what you are doing. Literally, do not touch your computer again unless you are a data recovery professional. Every time you try something else on your computer, it will slowly begin erasing all of your data.
- Examine the situation: Is your hard drive smoking or making weird noises? If so, turn your computer off immediately and follow the above rule.
- Call data recovery professionals: Unless you have experience fixing hard drives, your business probably can’t take the chance of losing all the data permanently and you are much more likely to recover from the crash if a professional is working on the issue.
- Use your backup: Luckily, you backed up your data on an extra hard drive and a remote backup and archived files, right? If you did, you are in great shape and can easily pick up right where you left off by using one of your backups.
Send for repairs: If you must send your hard drive in for repairs, take the following precautions. Before removing the hard drive, ground yourself to prevent any electrical current destroying your data. Pack the drive with a few inches of foam around it and make sure it doesn’t move around in the box. Then mail it in to a reputable repair service.