Where There’s Smoke…

…there’s fire. My computer evinced smoke this fine morning. You may infer the rest.

Topic for open discussion: Advantages Of Backing Up Your Computer.

Update New machine due Wednesday; posts to follow. Luckily, I am backed up.

Update Wednesday. Due to and incompetence by Dell, my new computer will not arrive for a few days more. Posts have restarted, however.

Update Thursday evening. New thing arrived. Had terrific battle with Windows to get it off and install a civilized OS instead. But it is done and I am back in the saddle.


  1. Xenophon

    Hypothesis: All electronic equipment runs on smoke — magic smoke.

    Observation: When you let the smoke out, the electronic equipment stops working.

    Conclusion: Left as an exercise for the student.

  2. mrsean2k

    From the “after the horse has bolted” section.

    I use:


    $100 per year, per 100Gb tranche.

    * you can back as many devices as you like up to it

    * it has a “zero knowledge” philosophy – all data is transparently encrypted / decrypted client side

    * it automatically keeps multiple versions with differencing to keep space requirements down

    * no artificial bandwidth limits

    Blah, blah, blah: but I like it enough to pay actual money for two separate accounts.

  3. DAV

    Dangers of Smoking

    Offline storage is best reserved for things that are super critical: what you wouldn’t want to lose if your place catches fire.. $100 buys a 1TB drive. For Windows I’ve been using Acronis. Linux is a bit easier to backup. I use http://simplelinuxbkup.sourceforge.net/ but all you really need is cron script that saves /etc, /home and /var (I feel that it’s easier to re-install software than to backup downloads but try to keep local mods). The utility generates a differential and runs through a cycle (I use weekly with daily diffs). It’s mostly painless but you do have to leave the machine on. Total time per day around 40 minutes. Most of the time is spent making the differential. I use two network drives and alternate between them daily.

    Mirror drives are relatively easy but aren’t much help when the whole box goes down in flames unless they are external.

    ‘Course, you already know all this. 🙂

  4. Ray

    With any luck it’s just the power supply and the MOBO and hard drive are OK. I’ve had one bad power supply, but more often the hard drive fails. Usually they don’t suddenly stop working but start to have problems like boot failure. When your computer starts to have trouble booting, time for a new hard drive. If it’s the MOBO and the hard drive is ok, the computer tech has software to transfer the contents of the old hard drive to a new computer. If the hard drive was smoking, you are looking at big bucks to recover the contents.

  5. Tim

    One really needs two forms of backup. One in house to an external device and one offsite (online) in case the smoke is from the house and not the computer.

  6. Nomen Nescio

    I was told that the first sign of a PC failure starting to occur is if you suddenly can’t enter text. Soon after that, all will be los

  7. I always thought it was when the HD became so noisy one couldn’t hear the baby monitor over it that time had come for replacement. I like the “magic smoke” idea. And since when has a little smoke coming from the box been a bad thing? From the days of the 8088 I thought they all smoked a tad as a by-product of chewing up and digesting data “bytes” streaming in. What else would keep them alive?

  8. Chuckles

    Sic Transit Gloria Mundi


  9. Doug M

    Let it go. 90% of your precious data is in fact crap.

  10. Doug:

    Once upon a time, my 10% was part of my masters’ thesis. Nowadays I keep everything on big fat removable drives, and back those suckers monthly. My rule of thumb: store nothing important on a hard drive that can’t be dismounted and locked up.

  11. DAV

    “Luckily, I am backed up.”

    Not posting for a while creates its own back up.

  12. Scott B

    @Mike Anderson – A yes the removable drive…I fondly rememeber the death tap of JAZ and Zip drives I so diligently backed up my thesis on…

  13. Scott B

    @Mike Anderson – A yes the removable drive…I fondly remember the death tap of JAZ and Zip drives I so diligently backed up my thesis on…

  14. Adam H

    Hey guys let’s get back on topic!

    One advantage is that your computer will not be sticking out as far into the middle of the room so it will be less intrusive.


  15. SteveBrooklineMA

    Pshaw. It will never happen to me.

  16. bob

    Good luck with the new computer. I ordered a new Dell desktop XPS8300 almost two weeks ago. Fedex delivered it today. When I opened the box I couldn’t believe it. The darned thing has a black face, and the rest of the cabinet is white. My wife can’t stand it. We both assumed it would be black.

    I bought it from a sales agent at Dell over the telephone, and had no idea. Now, mate says it doesn’t match the rest of the electronic stuff in my office.

    So, back it goes.

  17. Earle Williams


    Good thing you sent it back. You and your wife don’t need to shackle yourselves to a slow computer. Go black. Because black is faster .


  18. So the professor is receiving a new machine instead of a computer? After seeing my d-i-l’s latest computer/phone/cordless-screwdriver/pulse-oximeter/baby-monitor/microwave-oven/flashlight/fax/scanner/camera/AK-47/television set that fits in her hip pocket I guess that’s the proper thing to call it. Good luck with the “user manual”, though. Her’s is writ so small it fits on half a postage stamp.

  19. Thanks, Earle Williams, for that link. I’m trading in my Apex 8088 today. Always wondered why it was so slow.

  20. Ray

    I knew ther must be some rational explanation for why those gamer computer casses were always painted black. The mystery is explained. I previously thought the black paint manufacturers association had bribed the computer case manufacturers.

  21. Earle Williams


    Yah, ya shoulda got the 8088-2!

    [recalls the old Leading Edge computer with fondness…]

    You could try black spray paint on the case, inside and out.

  22. bob

    Thanks, Earle. I am glad to have my opinions supported by real science.

  23. Earle, I would of thought silver or aluminum spray paint would be better because it would look more like duct tape, and everyone knows duct tape on the hood of a car makes it go faster. What is the “Dell” thing everyone is talking about?

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