Monday, July 5, 2010

How I Recovered from a Crashed Laptop

I just realized that I haven’t done a single Tech post since last 2 weeks, so I thought I will share my experience of recovering from the crashed laptop. As I have been saying since last few days, I lost one of my crucial laptop for daily work 1 week back. Within 24hrs I was able to transfer the whole system on another machine. The delay mainly occurred because my backups were at home and the laptop crashed while I was in office, so I had to wait till I got back home to restore my backup.

First and foremost the only and only reason I could recover so fast was due to backups. I can never stress enough on how crucial it is to take backups especially if your livelihood depends on computers. My current backup plan is as follows:

  1. Daily full backup of my 3 machines (2 Laptops / 1 Desktop at home) at night
  2. Live backup of “My Documents” using one of the online backup service.

I religiously backup my 3 machines every night using Acronis on a 1TB desktop hard drive. Currently the drive is connected to the desktop and shared over the network. I would prefer to have NAS but its little expensive and I feel overkill for 3 machines. For live backup I use Dropbox which gives me 2GB of online space for free. This system has served me well in bad times.

But crashes are never predictable and never easy to recover. Even though I had full and working backup, it wasn’t easy to use it. Due to the copy protected software I could not just copy everything on another machine and use it. None of the software would work. So I decided to use a virtualization software and use the backup from acronis to restore to a VM (Virtual Machine). I used Vmware 7 to create a VM and restore my backup but after the restoring the machine wouldn’t boot up. It kept on giving me BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) with error 0x0000007B which means un-mountable boot partition. After searching on the net I found that this was due to conflict in IDE drivers and is common when you have SATA drive. There were few workarounds to this problem but all were little complicated.

So finally I decided to pull out the hard disk from the laptop and plug it in the desktop. A few restarts and all was working fine. All copy protected programs were also running fine. So I am guessing they are bound to the hard disk serial and not the mother board.

Moral of the story: Always backup but don’t be sure that you will be able to use them :). Have a backup plan in case backups fail.

Update: Got the quotation from the HP service centre. They want me to pay 28k for repairing a 2 year old laptop :) Good luck with that HP………

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