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Be Prepared

The website editing engine has been down most of the day and so I'm late posting an entry.

M-Wise computers in Westbrook concluded that my laptop's hard disk had died but still managed to recover all the data and install a new 60GB drive and my copy of Windows XP , all for £90.

In fact, there was only one file that I was worried about losing and in the end I found it. Having experienced at least four separate systems crashes in the last two years - remember I write for the computer press - I now have a separate 80GB USB drive attached to any machine I'm working on for any time. As a result, I mirror all my data and when something like yesterday's crash happens, it's no longer a disaster. In this example, I had restored everything I needed, about 3GB of files, photos and programs, to the repaired laptop inside ninety minutes.

My advice to you then is to expect your PC to crash one day and at the worst possible time. You can avoid the pain with a visit to PC world and an investment in an external USB hard drive to mirror what's on your PC. It's not expensive and better than losing several thousand family photos or all your music.

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