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How Long Will My Hard Drive Last?

Backblaze is a company that has been performing data backups to hard drives for several years. Their server rooms consist of literally thousands of hard drives, which gives them a unique opportunity to study drive lifetimes.

Dozens of hard drives are seen here in the Backblaze data center. (photo: Backblaze)

Backblaze also studies failure rates of hard drives by model number and manufacturer and publishes a quarterly report. In a study they did in 2013, their data showed that after 4 years of use, 20% of all hard drives failed. They estimated that after 6 years, half of all hard drives in use worldwide would fail.

I have a customer who is still doing her company bookkeeping on a 12-year-old hard drive. I had another customer recently give me a 20-year-old computer running Windows XP and its hard drive fired right up. So obviously, many drives will run for much longer than 6 years without having any major issues. But let’s remember that hard drives are mechanical devices that will all fail eventually, so a current backup is a good idea too.

If a drive does fail, you can sometimes recover data from the damaged drive, but it can be an expensive and time-consuming process. It’s a LOT easier and much less expensive to back up your files and swap an older working hard drive with a new one than it is to try to recover your data from a crashed drive.

If you’re using an older computer with an older hard drive, I can replace that old hard drive with a new one and copy your data over for you. In most cases, people also see an increase in speed with a new drive.

Trust me, it’s better to do it before it becomes a crisis.

Backup and Wipe

At some point, you will replace your computer with a shiny new one. If you decide to sell, donate or dispose of the old computer, it’s important to properly wipe the data off your old hard drive first.

A 2017 study from the National Association for Information Destruction found that improper data erasure is very common.

When a hard drive is formatted, you’re usually only deleting the file system, making the data invisible but not gone. A file recovery program or special hardware can often recover the information.

To test this, NAID bought several hundred devices sold on sites like eBay, and they were able to recover vulnerable personal information on 40% of the devices and drives. This included the recovery of passwords using basic methods and free tools from the internet. 

Sensitive files that can potentially be recovered from an old hard drive include financial and tax information, work project files, personal photos and videos, medical documents, passwords, your web browsing history, and more. If you don’t want these files and information falling into the hands of your computer’s new owner, or worse yet, a hacker, you need to perform a secure wipe of the drive.

PC Overhaul can securely erase hard drive’s to Department of Defense standard DoD 5220.22-M. This overwrites every area of the hard disk 3 times with randomized data, ensuring nothing can ever be recovered.

But before I wipe your old hard drive, we should back up your data first. Very often, people think there’s nothing important on an old computer. Later, after the computer is gone, they sometimes realize they are missing files that may have been left on the old computer. Don’t make this mistake!

I can back up all your important files to an external drive or the cloud, then securely wipe your hard drive with professional-grade software and provide you with a certificate to verify the process.

And if you are going to re-sell or donate the machine, I can also reload Windows on the computer and perform some tweaks to the system to make it better than brand new.

Contact me today to get started.

Scam Alert: Get a text with a surprising pandemic deal? Don’t click the link!

Nearly everyone loves finding a great deal – including computer hackers and scammers. Con artists often offer too-good-to-be-true discounts in the hope that price-conscious consumers will jump on these “deals” without doing their research.

Recently, the Better Business Bureau’s BBB Scam Tracker has seen numerous reports of scammers impersonating well-known companies and offering COVID-19 themed discounts.

How the “Special Offer” scam works

You receive a text message from a large, well known company, claiming that the company would like to help people out by offering them an amazing deal due to the pandemic. These special offers range from free or discounted services to gift cards and even cash.

Examples of text messages using this ploy:

• “COVID-19 refund. Verizon Company is giving out $950 to all users of our Verizon service. If yes, kindly text your Verizon.”

• “Due to the pandemic, Hulu is giving everyone a free one-year subscription to help you stay at home. Get yours here (link).”

  • “AT&T… Sorry for the coverage issues… Here’s a little gift: [link]”

Unfortunately, these messages are not really from any of these companies. They come from professional online scammers who want to steal your personal information. After clicking the link, you will be prompted to log in to a lookalike website that scammers use to get your real login ID and password. With that information, scammers can access your accounts and make purchases using your saved payment methods.

While the latest BBB Scam Tracker reports mention Hulu, Netflix and Verizon, watch out for scammers impersonating other companies, too. If one company name stops being effective, they’ll quickly switch to another company.

How to avoid text message scams

Here are a few ways to avoid being scammed-

• Treat all messages from unknown senders with caution. If you receive a message from a number you don’t recognize, be careful. Many legitimate companies engage in SMS marketing, but keep in mind that consumers must opt in to receive messages. If you haven’t given a company permission to text you, it’s probably a scam.

• Don’t click on links from strangers. Scammers often send shortened links that don’t let you see where they really lead inside the body of their text message. If you click the link, you could be directed to a dangerous website, or you could unknowingly download malware onto your device.

• Research and confirm deals directly with the company before you accept. If you are really hoping the deal is legitimate, go to the company’s official website, email them, or just call them to inquire about it. The company will let you know if the deal is real or not.

• Install antivirus software on your computer and mobile devices. This kind of scam can come from text messages or emails, so make sure all your electronics are protected. Antivirus software can scan for malware and alert you before you open a malicious website link.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN DROPPING OFF YOUR COMPUTER

What should I bring with me when I drop off my computer?

  • If you are bringing your Laptop for service please bring the power adapter.
  • If you are bringing your Desktop for repairs you will not need to bring any cables, just the CPU tower (aka “the box”, but not the mouse, keyboard, monitors etc.) Some All-In-One Pc’s and newer desktop computers have a laptop type power adapter with a power brick, which should be brought along for service. If you are not sure, it’s better to bring it along.  
  • If you are having Windows re-installed on your device please bring in any software that you would like installed (additional charges may apply depending upon services being performed).
  • Contact us about any other devices you think you may need to bring along in order to complete your repair.
  • You will need to provide the PASSWORD or PIN to log onto all user accounts on the computer your computer. If you are unable to provide the correct password, an additional fee may apply to remove the password and complete your repair or service.

What information will I need to provide when I drop off my computer?

  • You will need to provide your name, contact information and any passwords required to log onto the computer.
  • Provide any details about the problem you are experiencing. Information about how often the problem happens, if there are specific things that seem to trigger the problem, and how long it’s been occurring can be very helpful.

Is there a customer agreement that I will have to sign?

No, but there are some basic policies that each client should be aware of and understand –

  • I understand that in some cases my data cannot be saved and that “PC Overhaul” cannot be held liable for the loss, alteration or corruption of my data.
  • I understand that hardware failure can occur at anytime and that “PC Overhaul” cannot be held liable for any hardware failure that may occur.
  • I understand that in some cases repairs done to my hardware may void the manufacturers warranty and that “PC Overhaul” is not liable for voided warranties.
  • I understand that if I do not pick up my computer within 30 days, or make arrangements for future pickup, I forfeit the items left behind to cover the cost of services preformed by “PC Overhaul” .
  • I understand that payment is required when the product is picked up.
  • I understand that any parts special order parts may require payment in full before they will be ordered.

 Will my data be erased?

It is always recommended that you back up any important data if possible before dropping off your computer for service, or a backup can be added to your service. PC Overhaul cannot be held responsible for lost, corrupt or damaged data. We will never delete your data without your permission, but your hardware can fail at anytime. A current backup is your best insurance policy.

Data Recovery – Deleted Files, Formatted Drive, Raw Partition, Mac File Recovery

IMPORTANT – If you experience any symptoms of  hard drive failure, the first and most important thing to do is turn your computer or external hard drive off right away. Continuing to use the drive may cause more damage or overwrite the data you’re trying to recover.

Pc Overhaul uses proven professional grade data recovery software to recover your files and data from a variety of data loss scenarios.

Deleted File Recovery

Accidentally deleted a file? I can attempt to retrieve lost files after accidental deletion or emptying of the recycle bin or trash.

Formatted Recovery

Accidentally formatted a hard drive and want to recover the data? There’s a good chance the lost files are recoverable from an accidental hard drive format. Data recovery software can search for and recover most file types.

Raw Partition Recovery

Sometimes the file system on your computer can become corrupted. When this happens your hard drive partition becomes damaged and is seen as “RAW.” I can scan for all recoverable files from any inaccessible storage device and recover them by file type.

Mac Data Recovery

My professional level data recovery software can retrieve photos, videos, music files, documents, emails, and more from Mac-based devices, including MacBook and iMac computers.

Other Reasons For Data Loss

There are many potential reasons for data loss, including virus infection, malware attack, failed Windows Update, bad or damaged backup process, human error, power surge or failure, system crash, OS re-installation/upgrade, hard drive crash, software crash, or other unknown reason.

Contact me if you are experiencing any of these issues and I will recover your data as soon as possible.

Surfshark VPN Black Friday Deal

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Take advantage of this incredible deal to get 24 months of Surfshark for $2.49/mo + get 3 months for free!

2020 Amazon Laptop Deals Under $500

If you’re looking for an affordable computer under $500, but worry about sacrificing performance, look no further.

The 2020 Newest Lenovo IdeaPad 3 boasts a powerful Ryzen 3 CPU, which beats the intel i7-7600U in CPU Benchmark’s comparison. The 8GB of RAM provides enough memory for virtually all productivity tasks and less demanding games. And the 256GB SSD hard drive delivers up to 100 times the performance of traditional SATA HDDs. This translates to faster boot times, quicker file transfers, and consumes less power than SATA drives.

The Newest Acer Aspire 5 offers the same CPU, RAM and screen size as the Lenovo above, but has a smaller main SSD hard drive at 128GB, with an added 1GB of traditional SATA storage in a second hard drive. this would be good for someone who is not going to be installing a lot of programs, but has a large photo, music or video collection.

I’m cheating a little by including the Asus X512DA-BTS2020RL, because it lists for $522. But for that little bit of extra money, you get a much faster CPU and video card. The Lenovo and Acer both have a Ryzen 3 CPU and use the Ryzen Vega 3 graphics card. The Asus X512DA-BTS2020RL has a Ryzen 5 CPU and the much faster Ryzen 8 video card, and also doubles the storage of the Lenovo with a 512GB SSD hard drive.

These are all good choices for anyone who uses their computer for web browsing, email and word processing, but wants more power and storage than a Chromebook will provide.

Creating A Data Backup Plan

We live in a digital world, where the only copy of our irreplaceable photos or important business data sits on a mechanical hard drive that can fail at any point without warning. Yikes!

Data loss can be devastating personally and professionally, and although data recovery is sometimes possible, the process is expensive and can’t always recover all of your files.

Creating a data backup plan can save you time and money if you have a hard drive crash. It may seem complicated, but it can be done fairly easily using the 3-2-1 backup strategy.

Cloud storage can be used as part of a 3-2-1 backup plan

The 3-2-1 Backup Strategy

The 3-2-1 backup strategy is made up of three rules, which are:

  • Three copies of your data- Copy 1 is your original data (your primary copy). For most people, this data is located on the C drive of their computer. You should also have at least two backup copies of this data.
  • Two different storage types- Both backup copies should be kept on two separate storage types to minimize the chance of failure. Storage types could include a USB flash drive, internal hard drive, external hard drive, removable storage drive, DVD, tape or cloud backup.
  • One copy offsite- At least one backup copy should be located offsite, away from your primary copy. This protects you from a natural disaster that could destroy all the local copies.

For example, let’s say your files are on the hard drive on your home computer. For your first backup copy, you can use an external hard drive, which you can easily access if you need to retrieve a file. You could then set up a cloud backup as your second (archive) backup copy.

If your computer hard drive fails, you can get your files back from either of your two backups. The external hard drive should be your first choice, because copying is much faster via USB cable than downloading from the cloud over your internet connection. But in the event your house catches on fire, or you have a power surge that wipes out both the computer and the external drive, that cloud storage backup is going to be a lifesaver (and worth every penny).

If you’d like to have me set up a backup plan for you, contact me for data backup service.

Clean up Google Chrome, Reset Search Engine and More

If you use Google Chrome as your web browser of choice, you may wonder what you can do when it starts acting up. Here’s how to repair, reset or clean up some of the most common issues with the Chrome web browser including increasing the performance of slow loading tabs, resetting a hijacked search engine, blocking excess pop up notifications and more.

Clean Your Cache

Google Chrome stores your temporary internet data in a cache to make regularly visited sites load faster. Over time, the cache can become overloaded. This can slow down the opening of browser tabs and affect your overall browsing performance.

Cleaning the cache is a quick and easy process that only takes a few seconds to accomplish.

First, click the three dots menu button in the top-right corner of Google Chrome, then click Settings. On the left-hand side of the page, click Privacy and security, then choose Clear Browsing Data.

You can now select whether you’d like to clear your browser history, cookies or cached images and files. Check the box for “Cached images and files” and click Clear Data at the bottom right.

Note: Now that you have cleared the cache, sites will load slowly the first time you visit while they build new cached files. But overall browsing performance should be improved.

You can also clear your browser history and cookies by following the same steps. Keep in mind that clearing your cookies means you will have to log back in to any website that was ‘remembering” you, so have your usernames and passwords handy before you take this step!

Stop Notifications and Pop Ups

Some sites won’t work properly with pop ups disabled, but the pop up feature has been abused by advertisers. The most common way to end up with pop ups is to accidentally alow a site to send you updates.

I visit a large number of tech sites, and I often get pop ups asking me to allow them to notify me of new stories or features on their sites.

Clicking Allow means you’re going to get pop ups whenever they have something new they want you to see. To remove these annoying notifications, click the three dots menu button in the top-right corner of Google Chrome, then click Settings. On the left-hand side of the page, click Privacy and security, then choose Site Settings.

Scroll down to the Notifications option.

Here we can see which sites we have Allowed or Blocked for notifications, Scroll down to Allow and find the site or sites you’d like to block notifications from. In my case you can see I have allowed several Google sites like Google Docs, Google Drive, and Google calendar as well as Netflix to send me notifications. Underneath that are two sites I would like to remove- greenmangaming.coim and ibtimes.com.

Removing those pesky notifications is as as easy as clicking the three dots and choosing “Block”.

Reset Search Engine to Google Search

If your searches are suddenly redirecting you to a strange place, you can easily go in and change your default search engine back to Google.

Click the three dots menu button in the top-right corner of Google Chrome, then click Settings. On the left hand side click Search Engine.

Here, the search engine has been changed to eBay. I want to change it back to Google.

Click Manage search engines, find Google in your list, click on the three dots menu to the right and choose Make default. Your search engine should be reset to Google.

Disable Chrome Extensions

Extensions can add new features to Google Chrome but can sometimes dramatically slow down your browsing, especially if you’re running a bunch of them at once. You can disable extensions without uninstalling them to see if performance improves.

Click the three dots menu button in the top-right corner of Google Chrome, then click Settings. Near the bottom, click on Extensions.

You can toggle extensions on or off here. Disabling or removing extensions you don’t need or use anymore will free up memory and improve browser performance.

Reset and Cleanup

When all else fails, you can reset the browser to default settings. This will reset your startup home page and search engine,disable all extensions and clear temporary data like cookies. Your bookmarks, history and saved passwords will not be cleared.

To perform the reset, click the three dots menu button in the top-right corner of Google Chrome, then click Settings. Near the bottom on the left, click on Reset and clean up. then click Reset Settings.

From the same menu, you can also choose Clean up Computer.

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