Backup and Recovery

Best backup practices and recovering lost data.

Can I fix my crashed hard drive?

Episode 1486

Chip from Cherry Hill, NJ
Hard disks

Chip has a failed hard drive and doesn't really want to spend over $500 to repair it. Is there a way to do it himself? Leo says that a hard drive dying can mean a lot of things. It could be a hardware failure or it could be a software failure. It could be a corrupt sector on the boot record. Software failures are easy to fix and inexpensive. Hardware failures will cost a lot. Drivesavers charge a lot because they have a clean room with all the parts, and can replace bad parts and recover the data.

What happened to my files on my external hard drive?

Episoide 1473

Bonnie from Costa Mesa, CA
Hard drives

Bonnie bought a new computer and when she plugged in her external hard drive, it said it was empty. Leo says that if she still has the old system, she should plug the hard drive back in and see if the files are there. If not, then something went wrong and she didn't back up her data as she thought. That's why it's always a good idea to keep the old system around for awhile until she's moved everything over. Windows 10 should be able to see the files from that XP drive no problem.

How can I get rid of duplicate images on my phone?

Episoide 1473

Glen from Malibu, CA
iCloud Photos

Glen has a ton of images on his iPhone and some are duplicates. How can he get rid of them? Apple says he has to delete them one at a time. If Glen has them backed up to iCloud with the iCloud Photo Library, he can enable "optimize disc space" on his phone. That will replace the full-size versions with smaller versions on the iPhone, while iCloud keeps the full-size versions. But once he deletes them, they get deleted from iCloud as well.

Why can't I read my hard drive?

Episode 1468

Jonathan from Long Beach, CA
Western Digital 6TB USB Drive

Jonathan plugged in an external drive but he can't see it on his Mac. It wants it to re-initialize. Leo says it could be a host of things from the drive, to the cable, to the USB port, to even a software error. So he'll have to break it down. First, unplug the drive and plug it into a new port. If he's using a USB hub, try directly into the computer instead. Make sure if it's a powered drive that it's getting power. Jonathan can run Disk Utility on the Mac and see if it sees the drive. If he sees it there, then that means that the drive is starting to fail or the formatting is corrupted.

What can I do if my NAS has gone bad?

Episode 1468

Bruce from Villa Park, CA
Western Digital Sentinel DX4000

Bruce has a network attached storage (NAS) drive and he's getting an error message. He's worried he's lost the data. Leo says that if the network RAID was set to RAID 0 or "scary RAID" then there's a chance that's the case. But if it was set as "redundant" then if one drive has gone bad, replacing it will fix it. The error message Bruce is getting indicates the entire Western Digital NAS has been corrupted and the only thing he can do is reboot the NAS and see if it self-corrects. Bruce also said that the error occurred with all the drives taken out of the machine.

How can I transfer programs to a new computer?

Episode 1467

Rick from Santa Monica, CA
Microsoft Surface Pro

Rick just upgraded to a Surface Pro with an i7 and tons of great specs. How does he move all his programs and data as easily as possible? Leo says programs are not easy at all and there's no decent tool that can do it. Data is the exact opposite — it's easy as pie. But Windows installs program files all over the place, making it difficult to move an entire program package to a new computer. That can cause what Leo calls "DLL hell" because he'll eventually get a warning that a DLL file is missing. It can also cause problems with other programs and even crash the computer.

Are encryption services really secure?

Episode 1467

Gary from Cheektowaga, NY
Encryption

Gary is an attorney and has heard of a business product called LockBin that promises to encrypt his data. Is it legit? Leo says that there are limits of privacy with an encryption service. If the service can give him his password, then it has access to all his data and it's not really reliable. If they can't give him the password because only he knows it, then he's in good shape. The downside, though, is that if he forgets it, he's out of luck.

Apple to Store iCloud Keys in China

Episode 1466

Tim Cook

In a move that is causing concern with privacy advocates, Apple has announced it will store iCloud recovery keys in China. Leo says that it's really no different from what Apple does here, but it will make it easier for the Chinese government, or any government for that matter, to gain access to someone's data. Apple does protect your privacy from selling to advertisers, but if the government really pushes, Apple will cave to what they consider an "appropriate" law enforcement request.