I had a bad experience last Saturday, I turned on my computer and nothing happened. ;-(
I wrote those words over 2 years ago and they still scare me a little. I have survived 2 hard drive failures and a failed ME install since then. Hard drive failure doesn't have to be a catastrophe, just be prepared in advance. Because you can be sure of this, if it hasn't happened to you yet, it will.
The most important thing is to have as much of what you need stored in backup as possible. If you have important records, back them up regularly. Use a zip or jazz drive, and use it regularly. Backup your bookmarks offsite too. I use mybookmarks.com. One trip and viola!! All your bookmarks are back on your machine. Use it on a regular basis, about once a week or so to keep up with all your shortcuts. Of course all the links I needed were available right here at Fort Badger. Almost as though I planned this place as a back up. ;-)
1) Install the antivirus program first. That will insure all the rest of the programs and drivers you install are virus free. Always reboot after installing any program or peripheral, this will help locate and resolve any software or irq comflicts.
[I actually installed Road Runner first so that I could go to Avast and download their highly effective antivirus program. It is most highly recommended by TechTV and that's good enough for me. It's also free for home use, there it is, my favorite word again! Once you get your antivirus program in place you will be able to breathe a bit easier. I can't stress enough how important it is to keep your definitions up to date.
2)Install your firewall, Black Ice or Zone Alarm or whatever you use. I use Zone Alarm myself. I have heard mixed reviews of Black Ice and Tech TV doesn't recommend it's use. However, they highly recommend Zone Alarm. Also free for home use, need I say more!
3) Install Port Blocker from the analog-x site. Remember, don't start the port blocker program till after you have connected to the internet. With these three utilities installed your computer is protected from randon hackers/crackers. While you're at the Analog X site you might as well download POW too. It's my favorite popup blocker. More Free stuff!! Joy, joy!!
4)At some point you will have to download the latest updates to your installed version of Windows or whatever and also you will want to download the latest updates of Outlook Express. At this point would be a good time to do it. If you don't use windows or Outlook express I suppose you will already have what ever system you use up to date.
5) At this point I installed ICQ, the very latest version. I have been meaning to get around to that. The only good thing about this reformat is that I have all the latest versions and updates. As fate would have it, one of my chat buddies recently suggested to me that I should write down the numbers of all my chat buddies. I'm glad I took her advice. I have a little booklet where I record all my passwords and screen names at the various sites I register at, also the email address I used there, I have 7 addresses you see. I wrote my buddy list numbers in there too, thank goodness.
6) Then it was time to get real; Real Clipboard and Real Player that is. I love Real Clipboard. It is what the windows clipboard should have been to start with. I love it so much I actually *drum roll here* paid for it!! It is share ware and you can use it for free. However I found I used it so often, for so long that I finally felt compelled to donate for it. Worth every penny, and as added lagniappe, Uri will provide you with all updates free after one donation. I am using version 3.1 and I only donated for version 1.89. That Uri is quite a guy.
I will eventually get all 3 of the main media players but I use Realplayer the most so it is the first one I downloaded.
7) I install peripherals and offline programs last. Virus' can come from drivers and compact discs as easily as from the internet. Keep that in mind and keep that antivirus updated at least twice a week.
I wish that I had saved more of my pictures in my website folder. That was an oversight there. Some pictures I will have to rescan, some I have lost forever. Well, can't think of everything I suppose. Maybe I need a cd burner.
I know that a hard drive crash is no fun, but if you plan ahead and use your options wisely it doesn't have to be the end of the world. The hardest thing I found, is getting my precious machine back exactly the way I liked it. All the little tweaks and settings that made it just suit me. Sorry, I can't help you with that. I can only hold your hand so far.
All the links on this rant can be found elsewhere on the site along with some additional information about these products. To find them, just click contents at the bottom of this page and then go to the must haves section.
I hope this is a help to all of you who are thinking of reformatting or have a reformat forced upon you. ;-)