The Blue Screen of Death, or “Dude, Where are My Files?”

| March 13, 2012 More

You get up one sunny Tuesday morning. You grab a cup of coffee and turn on your laptop to check email. And there it is: the “Blue Screen of Death.”

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The scenario has two possible outcomes:

Option 1: Your heart sinks, you become nauseous and you start to panic as you realize you’ve lost your family photos, email addresses, saved files, and business records. This is a nightmare.

Option 2: You sigh, realize you’ll need to find a little extra time to fix the problem, but know there is no need for panic. Your files are securely backed up on an external drive or remote server.

I’ve faced this situation twice, and can tell you that Option #2 is definitely where you want to be! Although I had to spend money to replace my laptop and time to restore my files, the effort was minimal compared to the amount of work needed to recreate all of the information on my hard drive.  Let’s be honest, most of us are addicted to technology. We rely on our computers for nearly everything and are lost without them. Losing all of your data in an instant is no picnic. Fortunately, there are numerous products available for backing up files quickly and securely.  

An external hard drive can be purchased at an office supply or electronics store. The benefit is that once you purchase the equipment, there are no ongoing costs. Your files are stored in your own home or office, so there are no risks of having your personal data online. If used regularly, an external hard drive can be a good, inexpensive option. The drawbacks are that you can’t access the drive if your computer crashes and you are out of town. In the event of a fire or other disaster at your home or office, your backup data may be lost along with your computer. Also, many people purchase an external hard drive, copy their files once, and never bother with it again. Newer files or changes to old data are lost if your hard drive crashes.

Another alternative is online backup services. Mozy, Carbonite, IDrive, and Jungledisk are just some of the popular services available. Prices vary from a few dollars a month to $100 per year for a single PC. Some services offer discounts if you plan to back up multiple computers. Nearly all online backup services offer a free trial, either for a short period of time or up to a specific file size. offers a plan that allows home users to back up 2GB of data for free. Users who choose an online backup service may be able to save a few dollars on the cost by searching for coupon codes or getting referrals from existing users.

I have used for my home and business backup for several years now and have been pleased with their service. I signed up for Carbonite after losing the contents of my hard drive. I’ve had one crash since that time and was able to fully restore my data from Carbonite’s backup with a few clicks. One of the features I love about Carbonite is that the backup is constant. After the first backup (which can take up to several days to complete), my files are backed up in real time. Whenever my computer is connected to the internet, Carbonite continually scans and backs up new or changed files in the background. I never have to remember to back up my data.

If you own a computer, it is essential to have a system in place for backing up your data. Don’t wait for the Blue Screen of Death. If something is important enough to save on your computer, it’s important enough for you to protect.


*disclaimer: I have received no compensation from Carbonite or any other company for this post. All information is based on my own personal experiences.

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