Is Your Data Safe From Your Computer Crashing?

Every week I get the call.

"My screen says [insert error here] and nothing will come up. Has my hard drive crashed?!"

My first response is "Did you backup your data?"

Hard drive crashes don't just happen to your teenager who downloads a virus. They don't just happen to the guy you saw in Starbucks that spilled his coffee on his laptop. They don't just happen to certain people that do certain things, they happen to everyone.

The word "Hard drive" sounds fancy and expensive, but they are really nothing more than a shiny disc with moving parts all around them. They have ball bearings inside, and can spin anywhere from 7,000RPM to 15,000RPM! (Just as a point of reference, even $650,000 Ferrari's only go to 10,500RPM!) Ball bearings can fail, dirt or dust can get inside the hard drive, or maybe you just got a "lemon" by a stroke of bad luck. Whatever the reason, most of the time it is NOT the user's fault that it crashed!

Sometimes your data can be recovered, sometimes it can not. Imagine starting from scratch on your computer, with nothing except what came with it the day you bought it. Scary thought, isn't it? The secret to avoiding this situation is to be proactive, not reactive.

You can't prevent your hard drive from crashing, but you can take steps to preserve your data before it happens. This can be done very in a very simple and affordable way to even the most novice home users. We've setup backups for hundreds of home and business users which can run automatically and as often as needed. We even offer remote monitoring for business critical backups.

The best backup strategy is to have a full image backup of your hard drive along with incremental backups. This way if you have a hard drive crash, you can restore the image backup and then each incremental backup in succession.

Don't Trash Vista Just Yet!

A reader asks: I just read your article about "Downgrading Vista to XP" but my Vista computer it still slow. Is there anything else I can do to speed it up?

My answer: Yes! There are 4 things every Vista user should know about how to fine tune their system. Vista comes with dozens of new features over XP and uses a TON of resources - memory and processing power - which is why it runs so much slower.

All new computers we sell with Vista are already tweaked, so you don't have to worry about this! If you're one of those poor souls that bought another brand computer and are unhappy with Vista, don't throw it out the window just yet! These 4 tips will have your computer screaming along in no time.

Here are the four steps to turn your Vista into XP:

Step #1 - Strip unused features with vLite.
vLite is a great program written to strip Vista of all the "bloatware" functionality that it comes packaged with. You can use it to create a much smaller OS (operating system) with only core functions. You can use it to remove unwanted features and drivers, reset the product keys, and tons of other tweaks. After generating the installer, it will then be transferred onto CDs or DVDs, and then you can install Vista faster with this new installer.

Step #2 - Disable Aero Theme.
You can easily disable the Aero Theme and use the classic interface like XP. You can decide on what level of similarity you want your Vista towards XP. For me, I would just keep the Aero theme without transparency support, then maybe changing the Windows menu to a 'classic start menu.'

Step #3 - Remove or Disable Advanced Features.
By removing advanced services like Superfetch, ReadbyBoost, Search Index, and/or Themes, you can free up more resources for your Windows. You may remove the services during the vLite installer creation, or retain them for future hardware upgrades. If you include them in the installer, you can still disable them later.

Step #4 - Optimize your Windows
There are many optimization tips around. If you want to save yourself some time, you should get the step by step "Unleash Vista Power Advance Guide". You can also use some free tweaking tools for Vista which should help you tweak Windows registry easier.

That concluded all steps. However, step #4 is a huge topic, you need some studies before performing any tuning, or you may need to re-install your Windows again! Remember to ALWAYS backup your Vista hard disk image before trying any tricks!

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