System Recovery Tips-Computing Services - Carnegie Mellon University

System Recovery Tips

Computers are so ingrained in our lives that losing use of them can be debilitating. Some common causes of computer failures are:

  • You become the victim of a malware attack
  • Your computer is accidentally and abruptly turned off
  • You experience a hard drive or other hardware failure; symptoms might be clicking noises at startup or louder than normal whirring sounds

To prepare for a hardware failure, serious malware infection, or other computer disaster, follow the tips below; they will make the restoration process less painful.

  • DON'T store files randomly, all over your hard disk; keep them organized. Save files to your "My Documents" (Windows) or "Documents" (Mac) folders.
  • DO backup essential files on a regular basis. For Windows computers, this means backing up your Profile (i.e., C:\Documents and Settings\username); on Mac computers this entail backing up your "Home" folder. On both systems, this backup would ensure that you have a copy of your documents, music, pictures, and application settings, making those files easier to restore if necessary.
  • DO create one full system backup set. If you didn't do this when you first launched your new computer, contact the vendor to determine what they recommend. Most systems will prompt you through a full-system backup process.
  • DO select a backup media. External backup drives are a convenient choice and many models are available for under $100.  The newer thumb drives hold a lot of data and are also an inexpensive alternative. You might also consider DVD+RW.
  • DO establish a consistent backup schedule and consider storing one of your backups off-site.
  • DO test your backup process to make sure it’s effective.
  • DO store any media that came with your computer in a safe place.

Last Updated: 12/20/13