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Saturday
Jun112011

When computers crash and burn

This week I got to my studio all vocally warmed up and ready to work, when I noticed my computer, an HP desktop, had apparently frozen in the midst of a start-up.  The keyboard was unresponsive, so there was nothing I could do but a hard-reboot, holding down the power button and then turning it back on.  Strangely, while the hard drive spun up and the power light came on, there was no signal to the monitors.  Completely baffled I tried a few other things and then had to give up - time to call in the experts.  I had seen a sign posted by my favorite coffee shop for a company called MyCrazyMachine.com and decided to give them a try.  To make a long story short, they traced the problem to a burnt out motherboard.

Yes - a pretty hardcore crash and burn, and this desktop was only 2 years old, a very fast quad core PC.  The fine folks at MyCrazyMachine bought a new, better, motherboard and new firewire card, installed them for me, and upgraded the operating system from Windows Vista to Windows 7.  All in all I was up and running again in about a day and a half, without losing a single file.  Here's the preemptive steps I took to do this!

Backup

SyncBack is a great, free little program that automates backups.  I have it installed on my home laptop and studio desktop.  Every night it backs up all local files to an external hard drive, which in the studio means all audio files, project files, etc...and at home all my personal stuff.

DropBox

Shouldn't have to explain too much what this is :)  I have it on both computers, and store all invoices, marketing materials, voice over resources, etc...anything I would have to possibly access from anywhere.  SyncBack also backs this up, so all my important files are actually backed up in 5 places if you count the "cloud."

Remaining Problems

For some reason the fans on my desktop with the new motherboard are running extremely fast and loud - much louder than before.  More like a jet engine.  On steroids.  I can hear it inside my booth and it's picking up on the mic.  I'm researching some quieter PC fans and will probably have the tech folks out to install them.

A Few Things Learned

There were two key components of my system I didn't have backed up - settings files for two programs I use: Filezilla for FTP access/transfer, and AutoHotKey for system scripting and macros. The Filezilla settings stored all my FTP usernames and passwords for various clients and accounts.  I'm able to solve this for the future by backing up the XML settings file in the Program Files Folder.  Similarly, the AutoHotKey file that contains all my custom scripts resides in the program folder, and I now have a SyncBack profile backing this up.  Live and learn!

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