#1 Windows Vista sucks. Just like every one of Microsoft’s other first ‘stable’ release of a kernel, the second release will be far superior to the first. When they’re about to retire a kernel, they’ve pretty well got it ironed out right. If your machine has Vista on it, upgrade to 7 as soon as you can afford the extortion. Yeah, Vista was the crap sandwich you got slammed with. Yeah, M$ should give Vista users the upgrade as a bug fix, but they don’t. Oh well. The lesson there is to business owners like me – DON’T DO BUSINESS LIKE THAT!
#2 Even when you do the responsible thing and make a set of proper recovery disks from the recovery partition, ask yourself honestly if you will be able to find them when you need them in six months, a year, or two years. Or, if you’ll find the esoteric backup disks from six years ago in the search for the ones that you will actually inevitably need. Where the heck did I put those things? I remember putting them somewhere I specifically wouldn’t lose them.
#3 When you are sliding your laptop in and out of a bag over the course of a year, that little key code sticker may rub to the point that it is no longer legible. Take a picture of it, copy the number down and put it with your disks in a place that you will find them when you need them. I can’t imagine that it would hurt to put a piece of heavy, clear packing tape over the sticker to preserve it. Apparently, it is possible to retrieve the product key from the system, but it sounds like a PITA.
#4 When you are dealing with hardware types and software that you have never much messed with before, it’s going to be more of a challenge to get your data hacked out than it was every other time you’ve had to do it on a previous system.
#5 You aren’t too busy to back up files. Believe me. You’re never too busy to back up files. Blank CDs are cheap, as are external hard drives. They will pay for themselves in the frustration that ensues from not having them. The little <$20 USB drive enclosures are priceless. They help with data backup and recovery.
#6 When the laptop keeps crashing and you suspect it is due to overheating, figure out how to fix it before something bad happens. If you try to ignore it and keep working, something bad will eventually happen.
#7 When you think that you probably ought to backup your data and reconfigure your system so that it runs better and more securely, then do it. The time you plan putting in is so much less frustrating than the time you put in to recover from an emergency. For a few moments, my machine would boot between Vista, XP, Debian, and Ubuntu. The condition of the drive layout and boot manager(s) is what’s leftover from that.
#8 When +$200 to the computer shop to patch up your jacked-up machine may as well be $2,000,000, make sure that will never be an issue by maintaining the health of your system before it gets to that point.
#10 Murphy’s Law is a big, old, ugly foot that he’ll shove in your door if you open it a crack. When you have failed at all of the above much to your utter embarrassment, it ain’t gonna be pretty.
Yes. My laptop is currently a brick. No. I haven’t found my backup disks yet. It’s a dual-boot Debian Linux/Windows Vista box and I corrupted the GRUB bootloader when the computer crashed due to overheating while I was trying to load pictures from an SD card. So now, it won’t boot up. I don’t really use the Linux partition except for data storage, so I could fix it with a Vista boot disk (which I have somewhere, just can’t locate) to overwrite the MBR to simply boot Vista. There are methods to use a Linux boot disk to repair the GRUB which would restore the computer back to the configuration I had it before the crash, but that obviously doesn’t automatically fix the fact that I’ve lost my recovery disks and my product key.
Using another PC, Knoppix 6.2.1, a USB drive enclosure for my laptop hard drive, and black effing magic, I was able to retrieve all of my valuable files. Today, I shall burn them to a DVD with a date written on it. As soon as I’ve got the scratch, I’m going to make the jump to 7. This is no longer something that I’d like to do, it is now necessary. I don’t use Linux on the box, and there’s really no reason for it to be on there. When I move to 7, I’ll eliminate Debian.
Right now, I’m kind of in the ‘bargaining with God’ mindset. That is, once I sort this mess out, I swear I’ll keep a dedicated CD folder with all of my backup goodies (recovery disks, product keys, regular file backup disks), all properly labeled and organized, in a place where I will not lose it. It’s not the flashiest piece of hardware on the block, but I rely on my computer way too heavily to not be prepared. There are many like it, but this one is mine!