Backup and Recovery

Best backup practices and recovering lost data.

How can I wipe a Windows computer that's locked with a password?

Episode 1462

Don from Los Angeles, CA
Windows 10

Don recently got a used PC, but it's locked with a password. Since the password prompt comes up after the PC has loaded Windows, Leo says it's easy to wipe it and reinstall the operating system. All he needs to do is download the Windows 10 installation tool from Microsoft called the "Media Creator's Tool", and put that on a thumb drive. Then he can boot to that drive, format, and reinstall it from there.

How can I get my Windows computer to update?

Episode 1458

Rene from Corona, CA
Blue screen of death

Rene is having trouble updating Windows. It stalls out at 80%. He then reboots and it goes back to before he tried updating. Then he gets a blue screen and he can't restore or update. Leo says that not an unusual problem. If you think about it, with millions of computers, there's going to be a certain percentage that will experience issues like this, and updating while a computer is running is nontrivial. It could be something is blocking it, like a third-party antivirus app. It could also just be a bad download. Or this could be the Intel Spectre/Meltdown fix that is causing problems.

Why doesn't Word read my backup data files?

Episode 1449

Carl from Upland, CA
Microsoft Word

Carl has made backup flash drives, but he can't read the Word Office files that are on them. Leo says that the files are .DOCX files created by Word and he'll need to open them with Word. Instead, what he's seeing is "word salad" which is Word format commands that tell the software what fonts to display, indents, margins, etc. So if his other app doesn't understand the format, he should try using Word's built-in backup solution, then restore it with the other copy of his app. There could be something that gets corrupted in the transfer by just dragging and dropping.

How can I back up sensitive information to the cloud?

Episode 1444

Christian from San Diego, CA
Microsoft SharePoint

Christian is installing new computers at his accounting company. He's going to be transferring the data from one computer to another and wants to know if Google Drive will work. Leo says absolutely not. There are serious privacy issues handling a client's financial information and personal details. Carbonite is a better option that is encrypted. He'll want to be sure that the data is not only encrypted at the destination but also in transit and that the keys are well controlled, ideally only by him.

How can I image my new computer before I get started?

Episode 1443

Charles from Colton, CA
Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

Charles bought a new computer and is trying to back up his operating system before he gets going. Leo says it's a good idea to make an image right at the beginning. He can even do it on a small 8GB USB thumb drive and keep it in his pocket. The laptop will likely have a rescue utility that will enable him to create a restore rescue disc, but he can also use the Windows 10 backup feature. Just press Windows Key and type "Backup" and then go to backup settings. Then click "Backup and Restore (Windows 7)." This is actually an image backup, and it will create a system image.

Is there a computer that doesn't come with adware?

Lincoln from Palm Springs, CA

Episode 1438

Lincoln wants to know if there's a computer he can buy that doesn't come with any trialware? Leo says that most computer companies do this to offset the cost of manufacturing them. Even Microsoft will bundle trialware in the install. Leo advises uninstalling all that stuff from the very beginning. Leo says that Microsoft is edging towards putting advertising in the OS through popups, and that's a bad thing. So Lincoln should get rid of it all, and install only the programs he always uses, then create a stock Windows install by making an image copy that he can boot up to just in case.

How can I recover the data off my hard drive?

Episode 1432

Denise from Camarillo, CA
DiskWarrior

Denise's external hard drive can't be read by her Mac. How can she recover it? Leo says that there are disc recovery tools that could help Denise. One is called SpinRite, but it's a bit expensive and is difficult to use on a Mac. AlSoft's Disc Warrior is another good option, but it may not be the best option because it can only fix soft failures.