Hardly a week goes by that we don’t have to inform a client that their computer problem is beyond even our miraculous technical powers. Said client then must either purchase a new computer or erase everything on their old computer and start fresh. To add insult to injury, many of these clients then have to scramble to find all the software they purchased over the years. All too often, the software can’t be found. At this point, they are granted the opportunity to invest in my personal geekonomic stimulus plan by purchasing hundreds of dollars of brand new software from me. Oddly, many of you don’t appreciate that contribution as much as I do and don’t mind telling me so.
It seems that many of you don’t know that most commercial software comes with a product code printed on the packaging. This code must be entered or the software cannot be installed. Many of our clients either have the code but can’t find the installation discs or, worse, they have the disc but can’t find the code. We can help you with the disc but if we give you a “free” code, we break the law and can be put out of business. I love you guys but I don’t love you that much.
So, here are some suggested resolutions for 2011 that will prevent or at least mitigate this inevitable disaster. First, resolve to back up your stuff. People with small amounts of data can back up to a blank DVD or CD. Larger amounts can be backed up to inexpensive thumb drives. Huge amounts of data can be stored on high capacity external hard drives. For the ultimate in protection, consider off-site backups such as Carbonite.com or my shop’s own remote backup solution.
It is not possible to make backup copies of the software installed on your computer so if disaster strikes, you will have to re-install everything from original sources. Think hard about what software you regularly. Resolve to find all those discs and product codes and put them in a box where they can be easily found when (not if) disaster strikes your computer. Don’t forget software that was purchased over the internet. You’ll want to make a backup copy of the installation file you downloaded and include any email message that may contain the necessary product code.
Those with laptops need to be sure your Windows product code hasn’t rubbed off or become unreadable. It’s usually located on the bottom of your laptop. If it shows signs of wear, you need to write the code down and keep it in a safe place. This is important because if we have to reload Windows and can’t read that product code, you may have to fork out $200 for another copy of Windows.
Do this right and you can put people like me out of business. Ignore my advice and I hope to see you all during 2011! Happy New Year!