We all know the paralyzing feeling of having a computer frozen on the “blue screen of death,” or worse, a computer that won’t turn on at all. Family photos, financial documents, novels in progress—our home computers often contain our most personal and valued information, which is why regular backups are important. If you realize something is seriously wrong with your machine, the next steps you take will make the difference between recovering data and losing it forever. To prevent potential data loss, Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Mike Cobb of DriveSavers, Inc. recommends the following:
- Pay attention to noises. It’s normal for computers to make some noise, like the hum of the ventilation fan. Other noises are certainly cause for concern. If you hear any grinding, clicking or whirring sounds from your machine, call a professional data recovery firm.
- Update your software. When you’re busy working on your computer, it’s tempting to ignore the software update notifications that pop up periodically. Don’t dismiss them for too long—those updates often include features that improve data security and virus protection.
- Prepare for electrical surges and failures. Always plug your computer into a surge protector, which provides protection from any unexpected voltage spikes. If sudden power loss could cause your computer to lose data, consider adding an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) device to serve as a backup power source.
- Find a permanent place for your desktop. Laptop computers are specially designed to be moved frequently, but desktop computers are not. Try to move your desktop as infrequently as possible. When you do move it, make sure the machine is completely powered down, as moving a running desktop could damage the hardware.
- Don’t try DIY solutions. When a computer is seriously damaged, the standby solution of turning the machine off and on won’t solve the problem. Similarly, many people with computer troubles turn to their smartphones to search for answers or text friends for advice. The Internet is awash in misinformation about how to recover data, and many “solutions” will actually make the situation worse. Call a professional data recovery firm instead.