Composer Lost 5 Years of Work After Laptop Was Stolen

burnt-hard-driveA Reminder To Have a Data Back Up Plan

A sad news story today in the Southend Echo. A composer in Leigh had his laptop stolen during a burglary. He had saved 5 years of composition work on it.

The laptop, a MacBook Pro 15”, was stolen along with a Nikon camera. The laptop contains over 5 years of music that the owner had been composing.

He described the work as his life’s work, and had aspirations to start a career in music on the back of this work. Now he has lost everything.

The police have requested that anyone with information about this crime should contact Dc Gail Wilkinson, Southend Target team on 101. Also, if you are offered a MacBook in unusual circumstances call the police.

Always Backup Your Data

While this is a tragic case, it should act as a reminder to everyone to backup data stored on a computer. Although in this case the musician had his laptop stolen, there are many ways you could lose data on a laptop, desktop PC or a mobile phone.

Hard Drives Fail

Hard drives fail quite often, especially in laptops which tend to overheat more often. A serious hard drive failure will result in loss of data. Also, if you use Windows and save all of your data onto your Windows user account, if the operating system crashes or you suffer a serious virus, you will also risk losing your information. No hard disk drive will last forever – they always die eventually. Be prepared.

Accidents Happen

You can also lose your data from a simple accident. Drop the laptop in water, or just drop on a concrete floor from a height could be enough to corrupt the data.

Have a Data Back-up Plan

There are many ways to backup data. The best way is to use some form of automated backup solution – you can guarantee that if you rely on manual backups you will forget to back up just when the hard drive is about to die on you. Some suggestions (hint: doing more than one of these is a good idea):

  • Buy an external USB drive that is larger than your computer drive and copy all important information over to it on a regular basis. As well as photos and videos, also backup downloaded music, emails and web bookmarks etc.
  • Copy the most important data to DVD (such as composed music and family photos) , in addition to an external USB drive.
  • Make use of free online storage for photos – use Google’s Picasaweb and Yahoo’s Flickr to save your most precious photos. While you may not be able to recover the images at the same quality (compression / loss of resolution may occur) you will still have the image to display on a computer, if not one that can be printed well.
  • Use social media. If you take many photos on your camera, you can also upload direct to photo sharing websites. Facebook provides a tool to allow you to download all of your data, including photos, with one click. So use Facebook to backup your best mobile phone photos too.
  • Backup to the Cloud – there are many online vaults where you can store data.
  • Get some software. Backup software is cheap. In fact, there is one free product that makes it simple to backup –

If you backup on a regular basis, ideally to multiple locations, it does not matter if your computer is stolen.

Be Fire Proof

Even if you do backup to external USB drive and DVD, this may not be enough. If your house burns down you will still lose all your valuable data. In the old days before computing house fires would always destroy family photos (and the negatives). Today this does not need to be the case.

If you do not wish to pay for online / cloud storage, you could ask a family member to keep a DVD with your most important photos. You can get a lot of jpegs on one DVD. You could even ask to store a USB drive somewhere.

Data Recovery Services

There are data recovery services, however they tend to be very expensive. IT experts will charge between £400 – £1000 to recover data from a faulty hard drive. For less severe failures some PC stores will charge less, but they cannot recover data when the drive has had a serious failure.

Backing up your data is always far cheaper and less stressful than attempting to recover it after a distaster.

Whatever method you chose to do, do back up. And do it often.

Photo credit: pyroclastichawk on Flickr – photo shared under the Creative Commons Licence.

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