Backup and Recovery

Best backup practices and recovering lost data.

How do I make a set of Windows restore discs for my computer?

Win from Madison, WI

Episode 1080

Win has a Lenovo computer and needs to make recovery discs. Leo says that there's probably a utility on it that will allow him to do it. Lenovo might also ship him a set for a nominal fee. What about doing it before he connects it to the internet so it won't be infected? Leo says it's unlikely, but that's good thinking.

How can I securely erase a file from my Mac?

Mike from Glendale, CA

Episode 1080

Mike has written a novel, but he has to send in his computer for repair and is worried that even if he deletes it, it'll be recoverable. How can he be sure? Leo says to first make sure he's made at least three copies of it so it's backed up. Then he can erase the computer by using Apple's built-in "secure erase" feature. He'll have to reboot the Mac and hold down Command and R keys, and then launch Disc Utility. There's a secure erase feature in there that will write over the drive several times and remove all the data. Nobody will be able to recover that.

How can I recover videos off a bad SD card?

Wally from Adrian, MI

Episode 1080

Wally has a corrupted SD card and while he can get videos off it, they can't be played. Leo says that if the video file isn't complete, there's a good chance he won't be able to play it. There may be software that can rebuild the corrupted video, but what he really wants is to get every bit of the data off every sector. Leo uses Recuva by Piriform. It's very good. Then, open the files in VLC Video Player. It's the least vulnerable to file corruption issues.

Why can't I backup more than one video at a time with Carbonite?

Mark from Santa Ana, CA

Episode 1080

Mark is a bit frustrated that he can't automatically backup videos using Carbonite. Leo says that is by design, because videos use up a lot of bandwidth. It would kill his internet access for days, weeks, or even months just to backup videos. It's fine for documents and images, but he really needs to do the math in order to do video and then determine when he wants to do it. Leo says that's why he recommends backing up to a hard drive that he can take off site.

(Disclaimer: Carbonite is a sponsor)

How can I transfer my programs to a new computer?

Sherry from Palm Springs, CA

Episode 1078

Sherry has to replace her XP computer. Is it possible to transfer her programs to the new computer? Leo says that moving apps really isn't doable. She can use the Microsoft settings and file assistant (Easy Transfer wizard) to move her data, but the apps really need to be installed fresh on the new computer. Leo says it's a recipe for disaster to try and transfer those. There's going to be apps she won't want to use anymore, also. Sherry should start fresh with that new computer and install the apps as she needs them.

Why did my RAID erase my data?

Gene from Olympia, WA

Episode 1078

Gene replaced a network drive on RAID 1 and when it rebuilt the RAID, it made all the drives blank! Leo says that RAID 1 (mirrored) is designed to write the same data to all drives and when one fails, it can rebuild the RAID from the other drives. Leo thinks that during the rebuild of the RAID, the drives were erased. It's not the same as partitioning and setting up, and it may not be recoverable. Leo doesn't think it's a good idea to run BIOS RAID. It's not a good choice and RAID is never a substitute for backing up. He should also make sure he replaced the correct drive.

What's wrong with Windows File utility?

Tom from Riverside, CA

Episode 1074

Tom has a computer running XP and he's having issues with the accuracy of the number of files in his folders. Leo says that it sounds like the file index is corrupted. He can rebuild the index in the control panel. Windows XP's copy utility is broken also, so Microsoft's answer to that was to offer a separate file copier called "Robocopy." He could also try refreshing the folder in the folder menu. Otherwise it's probably time to upgrade to Windows 7. He should make sure to backup his data too.