Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Worst Nightmare

Last Thursday I experienced my worst nightmare as a computer user. Despite firewalls and constantly updated anti-virus software, my computer became infected and was rendered inoperable. I have no idea how it happened because I don’t go to questionable websites, don’t open email attachments if I don’t know the sender, and do a complete scan every week.
Yet technical support said that based on the error message I was receiving, it was an infection from a new virus. What was the damage? I lost all my emails and my address book, and I lost all my files since my last backup in June (including this Sunday’s sermon). I’ve since ordered an external hard drive and will now do mirroring, plus the occasional additional backup to a stick drive. I’ll also make sure I back up my Outlook Express® address book, because it’ll take months to reconstruct it.

Is there any upside to this fiasco? There are a few benefits that came out of this.

First, it provided me with an opportunity to warn you of the possibilities of an infection or a hard disk crash (they do wear out and fail, you know). Do disk mirroring, backup your address book, and don’t go to questionable websites. I was careful and it happened to me. If it happened to me, it can happen to you.

Second, my thanks to Dell Tech Support. The rep spent hours on the phone with me reformatting my hard drive, reinstalling Windows XP®, reinstalling drivers and utilities, and giving me advice. Working with this guy was a positive experience and I appreciate all the time Vinay spent with me.

Third, by clearing out my hard drive, I got rid of 4-5 years of accumulated junk. My computer is now lean and mean, as fast as it’s ever been. It’s like having a new machine! It runs faster, boots up faster, and shuts down quicker. I’ve been told by experts that every few years you should do a complete backup and then do what I was forced to do. Of course you must also have all your program CDs, and it involves getting all the updates and Microsoft service packs since you purchased the software. That takes some time, and then you must configure the applications to the way you like them.

Fourth, I learned the value of frequent back-ups and backing up those things I don’t usually think of, such as my address book. I won’t make those mistakes again.

Fifth, I got a sermon illustration out of this experience, which I’ll relate in my next post.
Yes, most of Thursday and Friday were spent on this disaster, but there were some benefits. I just thank God I had my original CDs of most of my programs. I didn’t have my Word for Windows® CD (which was an old version anyway), so I downloaded the free suite from®, and they are working fine.

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