Things to do when your computer dies

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life58 Comments


On Saturday, something that I think I knew deep down in my tech-lovin' gut was coming, happened. My computer went to gray screen and there it remained.

Now before you all feel too sorry for me, let me be clear: I am still able to access the Internet. Thank God!

We have three laptops, one iPad, and three iPhones in this house. Granted, none of these devices contains my personal content. I mean, see that photo of the little plastic hangers? I had to open that on Cole's laptop…and use NO filters on it whatsover! I don't even have a full version of Photoshop on his computer. Just Elements 8. Can you even believe that?

I know what you're thinking: the horror!

As I wait for word from the Apple Store, I wanted to share a few things with you.

1. Yesterday, while driving to said store, I was explaining to Aidan that honestly, this hard drive death couldn't have happened at more fortuitous time, as I had just uploaded some very important class content to Big Picture Classes the night before. As I'm going on, waxing all positive, she responds by saying: "Wow, Mom, it's times like this when I really think all that therapy you've been doing is working." Nice.

2. When your work schedule is suddenly cleared out for you, courtesy of a big, gray screen, it's amazing how you realized just how trashed your house has become. Laundry? What? I have to do that EVERY week?

3. Without work, you can undertake long overdue projects that make you realize that time is a bullet train. Case in point: Cole and Dan went up to the cabin this weekend while the girls stayed home. With Cole out of his room for a few days, I decided it was time to replace all of his kid hangers with adult ones. His shirts and pants kept falling off of them. Sigh. He's not a toddler anymore people. He starts middle school tomorrow. That noise you hear? My uterus just contracted for one last memorable time.

4. I can't do Project Life this week. Where is the humanity in that?

Hopefully, my computer will only need a new hard drive. We are crossing our fingers on this because a new computer, especially the one that I use for my work, is not in the budget right now.

Until then, I'll guess I'll slog it out by logging into my email on my son's laptop, or my iPad, or my iPhone.

I really have become a poster child for First World Problems, haven't I?

Somehow, I feel this video captures the general malaise that I'm certain will set in the longer I am without my beloved tower of power.


Eh bien, je suis toujours ici.

Adieu, sweet internal 1.5 TB drive. Adieu.

NOTE: To all of you who do not currently have a back up system, it might be time to consider one. Although my computer is on its way to meet its maker (literally, up to Heaven where it will reunite with Steve Jobs), I have been running a double back up system and all of my content—files, photos, and music—are ready and waiting to be installed onto the new drive. If I didn't have this back up in place, I would be posting to tell you I was leaving my life to join a traveling circus. That is all.


Cathy ZielskeThings to do when your computer dies

58 Comments on “Things to do when your computer dies”

  1. #1
    Kendra B

    Yikes! sorry about your computer!! Realizing its been a couple weeks, I just did a backup of mine 🙂 How much do you love the Henri videos . . . I love all 3, but I think 2 is my favorite! Cracks me up every time!!!

  2. #2
    Theresa Grdina

    OMG! This clip is hysterical!! I cannot stop laughing!!! Oh…sorry about the hard drive. Off to laugh at the cat some more……

  3. #3
    Mary Jo

    Sorry about the computer! But I have to laugh because I have been wondering when it was time to change my ten year old son’s hangers over to bigger ones. Yep, still using the smaller ones here, too. It looks like I have at least another year or two, right? 🙂

  4. #4

    Indeed, you do! I just realized that all of his stuff was falling off the hangers, and Im really trying to get him to keep an organized closet. Bigger hangers are sure to help that, right?

  5. #5
    Mrs. V

    I have a back up now after my MacBook crashed Mother’s Day morning when I was right in the middle of transcriptions for the last round of interviews for my dissertation. I quickly shifted to the reasons I was lucky as well, such as just having shifted my main working draft over to a different computer. I didn’t have a back up for anything from about August to May. I had pushed it down many times on my to-do list hence knowing in a busy life I no longer wanted to rely on myself to periodically back up. Project Life was another reason to feel lucky – with lots more pictures in albums than I typically would have had otherwise!

  6. #6
    Vanessa B.

    I wish I could sound more sincerely sorry about your computer but that cat video has me in stitches. Off to watch that again. Oops, I mean, so sorry for your loss.

  7. #7
    Andi Sexton

    Confession: I have the innards of a dead external hard-drive where my photos and digital scrapbooking kits/materials and, sniff, my pages are residing… 2006-2011. The quote to see if they can be recovered is $1,000. Keep in mind. This was my ‘backup’.
    I would love to hear what backup system you use!

    Henry the cat kills me.

  8. #10

    I hope nothing is seriously wrong. I have my own pathetic Mac story. My own Mac was in the shop (thankfully covered by Applecare) and I was using our second Mac, usually used by my mom. Alas, one day it wouldn’t start up at all and we had previously been told it was living on borrowed time. For almost 24 hours we didn’t have a computer, and life just didn’t feel right. Fortunately, the nearest Apple Store is a hop, skip, and a jump away, and we went home with a pretty MacBook Pro. At least my hard drives were backed up. Clearly I meant that we were pathetic, not Apple;)

  9. #12

    Here’s a thought- perhaps a post comparing and contrasting back-up options; what you’ve tried, what you like/dislike, what you recommend? (Or perhaps you’ve already done such a post?)

  10. #13
    Anna Ely

    My daughter’s laptop for school died a couple of weeks ago and we were on pins and needles praying it wasn’t the hard drive. Thank goodness it was the motherboard (if that can be a blessing?! LOL) because she hadn’t done a recent back up of her hard drive. She is a writer and ALL her stories were there. Thankfully they were able to remove the hard drive with her files intact and now she has a new computer and files are updated and BACKED UP!!! Whew! Disaster averted!!

  11. #14

    I learned the backing up lesson the hard way 😉 I have a back up and the back up of a back up too. I would die if I lost the kids pics and no amount of therapy could help 😉

  12. #15

    I use Time Machine & Carbonite to back up my data. I was told last week that my MacBook hard drive has bad sectors & needs replaced. I just had to repair the trackpad so alias, it must wait.

  13. #16

    Its okay, Vanessa. I cannot tell you how much that video made me giggle. I keep watching it. There are two other Henri videos. You should check them out.

  14. #18

    Horcrux. You know how to be funny in your pain! : )

    My present computer is about four years old, but… the drive that failed is one i bought later and added in; and the original drive failed about a month ago, but I was only using that for storage.

    The scary thing is that I ONLY started backing up again (after Simple ended, I felt like I didnt need to back up as often) about 6 months ago. Ay yi yi.

    I still need to explore offsite back up as well. Ali E told me CrashPlan is working well for her. Have to look into it.

  15. #20

    Andi, I use Apples Time Machine app, and I use Western Digital hard drives. I bought a 2TB for my main Time Machine back up. And then I bought a second one for a general back up of older files, that were already on a different back up drive. : )

    Time Machine works well for me.

  16. #21

    Shauna, Ive never posted about that. The only back up Ive ever used for my home computers is Time Machine, which is part of the Mac system. I will report on how it works next week, when I get my computer back, with its new, totally blank hard drives. : ) They told me all I will have to do is plug in my external back up and the Mac will ask me if I want to restore from the Time Machine back up. Hopefully, that will work for me.

  17. #22

    “all that therapy you’ve been doing is working”…..INDEED!! 🙂 There is no amount of therapy that could have saved my sanity had this happened to me!!!LOL And yes, I do backup, but I have huge fears about that not being there when needed…..apocalyptic sort of loss!! WHERE do these fears come from?! Thinking I need to look into off site back up like AE does as well.

  18. #24
    madeline St onge

    LOL at that video,

    Hope the mac is fixable Cathy, I have everything bakcked up on my external hard drive since I lost everything when mine dies a few years ago

  19. #25
    Margy Eastman

    Bummer, Cathy. I just subscribed to Carbonite last month. Now, I am at peace.

    Thanks for sharing the Henri video. Hilarious! It takes a special gift to create something so funny using subtitles.

  20. #27
    Heather B

    Agh! So I went & ran the drive utility stuff (check/repair) & my hd has problems on the computer I care about! I have to reformat etc…… never done that with my mac before – but it’s time for a time machine backup – I keep 90% of my files on external drives & back up between plus Backblaze online, but as far as installed programs etc. I have let my Time Machine fall WAY behind….. the drive got too full & it was running when I didn’t want it…. went to run it & it wouldn’t load which is why I checked the HD….. rebooted after failing to fix the disc & got Time Machine to start backing up – then I guess I am trying to reformat/reinstall my mac os…. how on earth do I do that? I am an old PC gal who did that all the time back in the day – but I also had a disc with the OS on it……

  21. #28

    cathy that note just killed me with laughter! (that probably wasn’t the wisest choice of a word, killed, with your hard drive just passing and all, but still!

    i do feel for you; but am so glad you backed everything up!

    how do you do your backups?


  22. #29
    Jen Hart

    Oh Cathy, what a post. I hadn’t heard of Henri before and I was certain he was going to be waiting for the answer from Apple 😀 It is a great clip.

    This is timely for me too. My silly old windows machine packed up for a final and terminal time. This has been the year of Apple. We wanted to be part of it, we wanted it to have us in it’s life, so I finally got an iPhone in January. Well the kids now have touch’s and then I persuaded Mum she needed an iPad (which she never puts down), so my lovely family decided to indulge me and bought me a MacBook Pro last week. Oh boy what a week I have had. I read about the Time Machine and I am totally going to suss out how it works!

    I wish you the best of luck, I can totally empathise. This needs to be addressed by world government. Everyone from the first and third world should have an apple product and 4G. End of wars, we would be too busy ahhhing over how pretty we look on Living Earth HD.

  23. #30
    Texas Susan

    Time Machine rocks! However, it IS on an external hard drive, and no hard drive can be trusted. I also use Backblaze, plus I back up all my photos to Smugmug in unlisted galleries, AND I back up my photos to DVDs. Am I a tad obsessive?!?

  24. #34
    Angela NJ

    After you finish your laundry and catch up on Project Life, I would like to better understand your back up process. We are an Apple-loving family, but I currently only have my Photo Library backed up on a WD external drive. I’m worried that’s not enough. Any tips you can share as you blaze new trails next week will be appreciated. My fingers are crossed that you won’t need additional therapy and I’m glad you’re not leaving us for the circus…yet. Thanks and good luck!

  25. #35

    I will read through your previous posts, Cathy, but honest to goodness, that video is HILARIOUS. Our son is a double language major (French and German) and he’s sending it out to as many people as he can find.

    As for the hangers, that’s nothing. We sent our son (said son as mentioned above) to a leadership camp this summer, and I went berserk. Old hangers, old shoes, new bedding, decades old toys under the bed. You name it – it was examined and then deemd worthy of keeping or going on the Goodwill tour.

    Honestly, cleaning out my kids’ crap is almost as good as sex.

    It’s true – I’ve lost it. And I’m happy with that!!!

  26. #40

    I hear you girl….my computer was not behaving properly but I didn’t want to spend the $2,000 if I didn’t need to. Well the decision ended pretty abruptly and my computer no longer stayed on – it booted up but once you logged on and hit enter it just booted up and went in a loop again. I had been backing up on the 1st of every month so I was 3 weeks out with all my photos which included some special events and an important letter that I had been working on for aboutr 4 weeks which was very detailed. I have thankfully been able to get the stuff off the hard drive off the broken computer because I stored it on a separate hard drive but I hear you…. get a regular back up plan in place. I might do mine weekly once my nephew sets everything back up again. I do know you will love the spare time because you can’t work on your stuff….a little blessing for you to have a break. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

  27. #41
    Jane Simmons

    I know how totally ill at ease I feel when something goes wrong with my computer — lost a motherboard to a lightning strike last year.

    But here’s a thought — re Project Life, I hate for you to miss a week — why not upload your pictures to be printed and do the rest entirely by hand and using more of Becky’s cards? A little more work but back to the scissors and paste might be fun.

  28. #44

    Good idea, actually! I just cant access my photos from last week. : ( They are backed up, but i would have to download a 135 GB iPhoto library file to my daughters computer. She said, No way! So, I may just use iPhone photos. Well see!

  29. #45

    Well, thats a bummer to lose anything! But yes, im going to be doing a little work on my daughters computer this week, but mostly, I will clean and organize my house, which has been severely neglected of late!

  30. #46

    Havent commeted before Cathy, I love your blog and your honesty. You will laugh, right when I started to read this post, my automatic back up started. I am much more calm about the fact that my hard drive could Kaput any second, because of back up. ; )

  31. #47

    Good for you, Patty. There is a sense of relief for sure. Now I have to get an offsite plan, like Crash Plan. Too worried that even when I get my new hard drive, itll die too.

  32. #48
    Heather B

    On the bright side I was able to get TimeMachine to work & found directions to reformat….. after following those while booting up it asked me if I wanted to use my TimeMachine & whammo – 90% back to normal! Background/icons everything! Only thing not working right is Photoshop (cs4 & elements)…. can’t find the license info – so I am just trying to reinstall from disc – hopefully that takes care of it.

  33. #51
    Dawn F.

    After my first day back at school (i’m a teacher), I am wiped out. I come home to survey the disaster of leaving my husband in charge of the 3 kids (I use “in charge” loosely). I blog surf and catch up on your posts – the video has me laughing hysterically. Of course, I am so very sorry about your computer. Thank you for the laugh.

  34. #52
    Lynda P

    Omg CZ, I thought I was the only that cringed when I exchanged my sons toddler hangers for adult ones! My daughter could benefit from it too, but I can’t take a hysterectomy right now! My boy is a Jr & daughter just flew into 7th grade!
    Hope your computer woes are fixed soon, so you can continue with the lifestyle you are accustomed too!

    😉 Bauhaus!

    Lynda in Calif

  35. #53

    Hi Cathy
    Such a bummer about the computer…I looooove my macbookPro and when it acts up, I totally panic…but I also backup with Time Machine to an EHD. Would love to hear any info / experience you have with off-site backup…The ones I’ve looked into seem really expensive per month! Will check into Crashplan again if Ali is happy with it.

  36. #54

    I just saw your Big Picture Classes video, and your message was amazing; thank you! Then I hopped on over to your blog (LOVE it) and enjoyed your recent posts (love this one about the computer nd hangars). Finally, I watched the video with the cat (talking); I laughed so hard I cried! LOVE your blog & your messages – I relate perfectly. Take care, and keep on plugging along; you are an AMAZING woman!

  37. #55

    Hey Valerie, thanks so much. : ) Hope you keep coming back. You never know when another video of a talking cat will appear.

  38. #56
    Joonas Lindfors

    I am glad that i found this article for a very informative purpose.Computer is something that important in life of people now a days and without any idea on how to fix your computer might be bad.In Helsinki many of IT companies encountering their computer dies but they really know how to do with it and that keep me think that i need to have a knowledge on it in case that its happen to me.

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