Backup and Recovery

Best backup practices and recovering lost data.

Can I install Windows 10 on a new hard drive?

Matt from Los Angeles, CA

Episode 1261

Matt dropped his laptop. Now he gets a blue screen of death and a 'hard drive damaged' message. How does he get his Windows 10 installation back if he installs a new hard drive? Leo says as long as Windows was authenticated, Windows 10 is tied to the computer. Once Matt installs a new hard drive on his computer, he can download the Microsoft Windows 10 ISO and then activate it. He should create a recovery media on a thumb drive as a safe backup. He should also check his laptop's firmware, as there may be a way to read the serial number if it's an HP.

What's the best cloud storage for back up?

Bob from Detroit, MI

Episode 1261

Bob needs a cloud based storage solution for being a digital pack rat. Leo says he should think about what he wants to store in the cloud and what he wants to store locally. If security is an issue, or if his data consists of large files like movies, then he should keep that locally.

The cheapest solution is Amazon's Glacier. This would be for things he doesn't need all the time. At $0.007 per gigabyte, it's ideal as a "just in case" scenario.

Why aren't I getting my text messages?

Anna from Sherman Oaks, CA

Episode 1259

Anna has a mobile phone and she's having issues with missing text messages. She's been told a reset will help. Leo says it could and it's not all that bad to do once in awhile. She should just make sure she's backed up all of her images, videos, and music before she does. Apps will just reinstall.

Anna should go into settings, and look for "Backup and Reset." This will backup her settings and apps. Then she can do a factory reset once she logs back into Google. It'll install everything and she'll be back up and running.

How can I read a drive formatted with a Chromebook?

Barry from San Diego, CA

Episode 1258

Barry uses a Chromebook to transfer his images to an external hard drive, but now he can't open it in Windows. Leo says that issue may be that the Chromebook formatted the hard drive in a format that Windows doesn't recognize. It's likely formatted in a Linux format, like EXT 2 or 3. Barry can get an extension to Windows that will be able to translate it. Check out Ext2FsD.

How can I back up my images from my iPhone?

Episode 1252

Lisa from Cypress, CA
Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus

Lisa has a few hundred pictures on her iPhone. What can she do to prevent running out of space? Leo says that chances are, she has plenty of room right now. But what if she loses her phone? That's why Apple has iCloud. Lisa can turn on and enable iCloud and it will backup the images via Wi-Fi. She'll only get 5GB of storage for free, but an additional 50 GB is only about $20 a year.

How can I back up my photos while on vacation?

Episode 1251

Scott from Richland, WA
Apple Photos

Scott is about to go on vacation to Australia and he wants to know how iCloud works with the images on his iPad. Leo says that he can turn on iCloud Photo Library in his phone and it will upload his images when connected to Wi-Fi to save space on his phone. Can he upload from his Nikon with his iPad? Leo says he can shoot raw, but it may not go up to the cloud. They will upload high quality JPEGs. But Scott should be wary, because Nikon also adds a lower quality JPEG that it loads to the LCD for review. In many cases, the lower quality image will get copied instead.

Why did some of my photos disappear from Apple Photos?

Episode 1250

Claudia from California
Apple Photos

Claudia is finding that half of her photos have disappeared in Apple Photos. She's taken her computer into the Apple store and talked to a genius but they have no answer, except that she has a second library. But the photos aren't there either. Leo says that the second library is the old iPhotos library. But that doesn't answer why her photos have vanished. They've also disappeared from her backup. Apple wants to wipe her drive and start over. Leo says it's common for tech support to want to wipe and go back to the original install. But the problem is, she'll lose her data.

How can I recover data from a damaged hard drive?

Episode 1249

David from Orange County, CA
NewerTech Universal Drive Adapter

David has an external 2TB Seagate Baracuda hard drive and he hasn't been able to transfer the data from it, because it's damaged. Can he roll his own data recovery or does he have to pay for it to be recovered? Leo says that there are several levels of data recovery. Level 1 is a soft error -- a data error caused by a bad block. It's easily fixable with a good utility. Level 2, on the other hand, is a physical issue. This could be a scratched drive, a bent lever, etc. If he has a level 2 error, he's going to pay ten times the amount to repair it -- often in the thousands.