Backup and Recovery

Best backup practices and recovering lost data.

How can I recover data from a damaged hard drive?

Episode 1361

Adam from San Diego, CA
Laptop hard drive exposed

Adam's laptop hard drive became unreadable when a battery failure happened and he needs to get the pictures off it. Leo says that since the hard drive can still be accessed, he may be able to get them back with a recovery software utility. Piriform Recuva is the one that Leo recommends. The key thing, though, is to never write to the drive again until he manages to get the data he needs off of it.

Can I install an old hard drive into a new computer?

Episode 1360

Scott from Santa Monica Fwy, CA
Laptop Hard Drive Exposed

Scott wants to know if he can take the hard drive out of an old computer and then put it into a new one. Leo says yes, but he should only use it as a data drive. He could probably put it in an external USB enclosure so he can plug it in when he needs to. He could install it as a secondary hard drive as well. If he wants to use software from that hard drive, that's a lot more problematic due to registry issues. He may be able to dual boot from the older driver, but the device drivers won't work. So he'll have to work around that and use a boot manager.

What's the difference between online and offline backups?

Episode 1359

Tristen from Cincinnati, OH
USB Thumb Drives

Tristen wants to know how to backup his computer so that he has a copy locally. Leo says in the old days, we would divide backup into online, nearline, and offline backups. Online backup would be a hard drive connected to the computer that is synchronizing with data directories. So he'd have a copy on the computer and on the external drive. Nearline backup would be if the drive were put up on a shelf, and disconnected from the computer. Offline backup would be off in the cloud or at a different location entirely. It's best to use all three methods and keep multiple copies.

Why can't I backup to Carbonite and DropBox?

Episode 1358

Marnie from Orange County, CA
DropBox Sync

Marnie is having issues backing up her folders with Carbonite. It says it can't back up because folders are being synced to DropBox. Leo says that's likely true, and that both are competing for the same files to back up. It may be that Carbonite has to wait until Dropbox syncs before it backs up. Leo says she can stop DropBox, uninstall it, and then reinstall it. That could make it much easier to work with.

(Disclaimer: Carbonite is a sponsor)

Why did the computer technician wipe my drive?

Episode 1355

Gloria from North Hollywood, CA
Recuva by Piriform

Gloria took her computer in to be fixed and they wiped her hard drive. Leo says that when working to diagnose a computer's problem, they have to get the computer to a so called "known state," and that usually means wiping the drive and then restoring it to a factory setting. That way they can separate software and hardware issues. So it's important to backup the hard drive, and even create an image that she could restore before sending it in. She could maybe use Piriform's Recuva to get her data back. It's free to try.

What are some alternatives to Seagate Lyve?

Episode 1353

Richard from Sonoma, CA
Seagate Lyve

Richard had Seagate Lyve, which would enable him to backup all of his photos to a Seagate hard drive or its Lyve unit. Then Seagate shut it down in December. Leo has moved to Synology and it works great. It even has a photo station program that does exactly the same thing as Seagate Lyve. There is even an Evernote server. It's not cheap, though. A good open source option is FreeNAS.

What's taking up the storage space on my iPad?

Episode 1353

Doug from Hollywood, CA
Apple iPad Pro

Doug is confused how iTunes works with backups. What is the "other" section of his iPad? Leo says that "other" in his iPad is cache files and other stuff that can't be deleted unless he does a restore. The trouble is that a lot of stuff gets saved there and it can build up over time. Leo recommends backing up his device, then erasing it and restoring it. It will then remove all those temp files. This is really the only way to do it.