Here today, gone tomorrow (with my data)?

Here today, gone tomorrow (with my data)?

11:48 AM, 10th November 2021, About 2 years ago 11

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It’s been a while since I gave anyone access to my computer, but the time has come when I need help with storage, speed and backups. Who do I trust to do this?

Firstly, is the person techy enough to know what they’re doing, and secondly, will they secretly install spyware or run off with my data?

I can’t seem to find any computer repair trade associations which could give me confidence that the person knows what they’re doing and is trustworthy. Many of the repair shops seem to only be around for a few years.

What do other people do?


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Paul Shears

22:18 PM, 10th November 2021, About 2 years ago

As someone who had a 37 year career in I.T. from hands on down to component level engineer to global programme manager, my answers are:
1. No one.
Learn it yourself at a really basic level and get the system fit for purpose. Your purpose. Not someone else’s purpose.
There is no reason for you to keep trying someone else's processes and the latest I.T. fads. Most do not last long.
However I have long since found that there is a good reason why Microsoft has dominated the market and why basic use Microsoft Office will satisfy almost any functional purpose. If you do not find some software application naturally intuitive in use, then use something else. But basic Microsoft Office is about as easy as it gets. Also you do not necessarily need to master all of Microsoft Office. I never have done so myself. Just look at the functionality that each application offers and ignore the ones that are of no value to you.
2. Perhaps get advice and assistance from someone that you know and trust. Otherwise you are out on a limb and at every sort of risk as soon as you employ a stranger. Whenever, due to time pressure, and corporate process restrictions, I have handed my laptop or PC over to someone else, I have regretted it and had to rebuild it myself from scratch anyway. It used to take a whole day to rebuild a PC properly. Now it takes less than half that. This is especially true if you have a high end computer and it will tend to be more stable as well.
3. Pay for at least two sorts of computer protection every year. I happen to use McAfee plus Safe Connect and Malwarebytes. Since doing this I have not had to rebuild my computer which used to be a repeated task every few months. Windows has its own security in addition to the above.
4. Run a defrag & clean-up programme regularly which can be automated.
5. Buy the highest spec laptop or mini PC that you can and forget about upgrading the thing for at least five years. It's just a functional piece of equipment and nothing more.
6. All this stuff really is getting easier and more reliable. The complexity behind it can fill up your life if you are not careful.
7. I assume that you are not in any way burdened by any corporate I.T. If so, be grateful. Corporations and both large and small organisations can, and will, mess up any and all I.T. and reduce it to less functionality than the cheapest piece of junk that you can buy in the likes of PC World.
8. Downloading "Apps" will create problems if you don't know exactly what you are doing. Most are a bigger burden than their supposed functionality may compensate for. They often contain viruses, Trojans and other software that you obviously will not want on your computer.
9. Back-ups can be automated or just use a simple drag and drop copying system.
10. I recently did a free upgrade to Windows eleven and it was quite to smoothest upgrade of its type that I have ever done.
11. There really is no need to acquire much in the way of tech skills to support most of basic computer use these days. Much of it has been reduced to plug & play or very near to that level. You can understand most of it at a layman’s level.
12. Storage is dirt cheap and getting cheaper.
My advice is to have a second hard disc, preferably solid state. On the one hand this gives you total physical control of your data which no “Cloud” storage ever will. This is why my company could never convince the M.O.D. to buy into anything other than their own private “Cloud” storage which was in reality nothing more than the storage of data on their own private hardware. Private “Cloud” if you will. So not really “Cloud” at all.
The downside of this is that if your computer is stolen or damaged you could lose all copies of your data.
One solution is to have a second physical device to copy your data to such as a physically small hard disc or a large USB stick.
Remember that text takes up little storage space. Pictures take up much more. Detailed pictures take up even more. Videos even more.

Graham Bowcock

10:56 AM, 11th November 2021, About 2 years ago

Ask around.

My firm uses the local "go-to" guy. He has a good reputation with local businesses which is a good start. He did our set up for the new firm 2 1/2 years ago and it works well. He knows what we have got and can often do manitenance remotely. Because he supplied the kit he makes sure we use the various guarantees.

You will probably never get an absolute guarantee that an engineer won't do something wrong with your data, but make sure they are registered with ICO; you will at least have some comfort that they are aware of the issue.

It's definitely worth getting somebody in - personally I have no interest in getting involved in the detail of IT and my time is better spent elsewhere, and I suspect the same is true for most people.


11:30 AM, 11th November 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Shears at 10/11/2021 - 22:18
Thank you Paul for your suggestions. I use Norton but have had trouble with it that even the computer people I used couldn't sort out (you can't just drag and drop). My young and techy kids can't either!

I'm not wild on using the cloud - except for a few photos, I have 2 hard drive backups (one stored in an annexe) with the intention of regularly swopping them but there's even issues with that that I need help with.

I've asked other people who they use and they are in the same situation. My locksmith who stores lots of lock data from various banks has someone come down from London at huge expense - he definitely doesn't use the cloud.

I was tickled pink when doing GDPR and the advice was 'consult your IT department'!


11:36 AM, 11th November 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Graham Bowcock at 11/11/2021 - 10:56
I've tried our local 'go to' people and they don't know norton. 'Wise Guys' may be my next try - has anyone tried them?

I've no interest in becoming an expert so I'd really like to get someone in to fix things who I could learn just a bit more from.

Its a good idea to check ICO registration.

Another thing I could do with help with is how best to dispose of an old laptop? I had an old one of the children's that went off to Africa with the promise it would be wiped before it went. I'm not sure I'd do that with one of mine though.

Kathy Evans

19:42 PM, 11th November 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by JB at 11/11/2021 - 11:36Norton products are pretty bad and have been for years. For AV, if you want to pay, try ESET - most of the free ones are now awful and bloated (perhaps Comodo or Bitdefender). Plus Superantispyware free edition (not Malwarebytes, which has deteriorated. For backup, Windows has backup built in, but it's not great. If you want to be able to restore to any new computer, look at Allway Sync (to an external USB drive) - it's pretty cheap and you can try it free for a the first x thousand files or Macrium Reflect (more comprehensive but also more expensive). Many small businesses don't need ICO registration as they keep customer data only for accounts and billing. More useful would be Vendor qualifications/partnership, like Microsoft. COMPTIA or Apple (but partnerships are not always available to smaller businesses). MS Partner and MCSE and COMPTIA qualified BTW, but I don't really do consumers, but business.

Old laptop. Dban to clean disk or take disk out and smash it/magnetise it and then take to Council tip - they have electronic recycling.

Paul Shears

10:46 AM, 12th November 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by JB at 11/11/2021 - 11:36
The command that you need is "Format C" assuming that it has only a single storage medium. What I mean is that you only have one hard disc and no additional storage medium such as a second hard disc, solid state drive or a storage chip plugged into a slot.
If it has more then it will be "Format D" etc.
This is not quite theoretically bullet proof because some determined hacker type, could try and recover you data but, in practice, it has always worked for me.
Frankly who is likely to even bother?
It has happened though including to Paul McCartney.
If you load an operating system on top of that it is a bit of overkill but it may help.


15:53 PM, 13th November 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Kathy Evans at 11/11/2021 - 19:42
Thanks Kathy, I'll take a look at your suggestions most of which I'll have to google! Kaspersky was all the rage a while ago but I couldn't face swopping so took the easy route and continued with Norton. I tried to separate my photos & videos and save onto a photostick and back up everything else daily onto a SS external hard drive but am even sure if that is working as I intended.

I wasn't keen on windows built in backup - I can't remember why now!

I'll have a look for those vendor qualifications, I've never heard of them before and suspect many others haven't either.

It seems a shame to smash up something that could be used but it seems the safest way.


16:52 PM, 13th November 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Shears at 12/11/2021 - 10:46
Hi Paul thanks for your reply.
I have a SSD plugged in for backups.
I think my email address book could be very useful if you're into scamming.

Kathy Evans

22:40 PM, 13th November 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Shears at 12/11/2021 - 10:46You can recover data from a "normally" formatted disk (and it probably won't be C: any more as you'd need to boot from an external drive - can't saw off the branch you are sitting on). You need something that overwrites the old data also and really clears it. Dban is free and easy to use - many tutorials on web - but it doesn't work on SSDs, so you'd need to use something else (Killdisk or even built in windows diskpart)

Kathy Evans

22:45 PM, 13th November 2021, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by JB at 13/11/2021 - 15:53
You won't get as much benefit from an SSD disk for backup as you would for using for the operating system and files. Might as well go for a much cheaper-for-the-size regular spinny (SATA) disk

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