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Computer Meltdowns – The Things That Can Meltdown

6 min read

Over the past several months, three of my electronic devices—one of my laptops, two USB thumb drives, and my BlackBerry—temporarily or permanently went ‘sideways’. Here’s what I mean by that…

In late March of this year I experienced another computer failure. While ‘crash’ has specific meanings in ‘computerese’, it fits the bill here. For a few days prior to the crash, my laptop was running sluggishly. One fateful Tuesday night, I added the proverbial ‘straw’ on the laptop’s back. I purchased an HD webcam, installed the software, and began to play. What happened next? I could not shut it down properly; I had to power it down manually.

It was not to restart.

I eventually recovered that laptop (another story, for another blog post), but lost data I had not backed up recently. And I had to reinstall all of the programs.

In April, and again this month, I had USB failures. The access to one was getting sluggish—yeah, there’s that ‘sluggish’ word again! I copied everything from the one in April to the hard drive of my desktop computer, and bought another USB to replace it. I broke the old one into pieces (just in case someone smarter than me got their hands on it, and could have somehow got the data off it.) A little over three weeks ago, I transferred all of my school courses from one USB that I figured was on its way out, to another one with higher capacity. I had inherited the ‘newer’ one, so it wasn’t store-bought. The next day, while trying to save files to the newer USB, I got several error messages. I eventually figured out that I’d have to ignore the messages, literally hundreds of times, simply to get the files safely off it.

About two weeks ago, my BlackBerry simply shut itself off. I *thought* I’d been closely watching the battery levels—apparently a critical thing to do with BlackBerrys (according to the good folks at CrackBerry, and other places). I could not reboot it: when I tried, I got the red light for a few seconds, and then nothing. I did the battery pull trick, and still nothing. Before panicking, I hit the Internet and went with a suggestion I saw more than once: power it up, even if seemed it wasn’t powering up, and then try the battery pull again. Voilà!

So what’s my point? While not a techno super-geek, I am a techno geek. I’ve been involved in the training, teaching, use, and testing of new software for over two decades. If all of what you just read can happen to me, it can to happen to you too.

In my next blog post I’ll talk about the very obvious values of backing up data—even for a BlackBerry or other smartphone—and some of the techniques, from simple and cheap, you can use to do just that.