Recovering from your online backup – don’t make this big mistake!

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I recently got a phone call from a business client. I’ll call him Matt for this story. Several months ago, Matt had a hard drive crash on his business computer. For a lot of people, this would have been a disaster. But thankfully, Matt had allowed me to set up an automated online backup for him, so all of his important files were safely stored away from the computer. I replaced the hard drive and reinstalled Windows, and Matt said that he and his partner could download his backed-up files and get them back on the computer. So that was the last I heard of that situation, until this past week when Matt called me.

cloud backup


As soon as he asked me the question, I knew what had happened.

He said, “Back when we had the new hard drive put back in the computer, we downloaded all the documents from the online backup and they were all there, no problem. Now we want to go back and download the pictures, but we can’t find them. Do you know how we can get them from the backup account?”

Not good. Those pictures are now gone.

Here’s what happened:

1. Matt’s computer crashed.

2. Replacement hard drive was installed, and Windows was reinstalled on the new drive. At this point, it’s a functioning computer but all of the backed-up files are still not back on the computer.

3. Matt logs into the online backup account and downloads the Documents folder to his computer. These are the important files that he needs for his business, so he gets those documents and decides to just come back and get the rest of the files (pictures) later.

4. Now the computer starts doing the online backup again. But what does it back up? The important files that are on the computer (as it’s supposed to do). But at this point, the only important files on the computer are the Documents. So the pictures are not getting backed up.

5. Online backup services typically only save backups for 30 days. So when you do a backup today, the backup you did 30 days ago gets bumped off (deleted). So 30 days after the crash, the backup that had ALL the original files got deleted and now the only thing to be found in the online backup account is the Documents folder.

So today’s lesson is this:

When you are recovering your files
from your backup service after your hard drive crashes,
make sure you recover ALL of them at the same time –
NOT just the ones you need right away.

Or, if you aren’t sure what to do, just call me.

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