First a warning—this is not a blog on photography tonight. Second, I apologize for missing last week. I was neck deep in getting a big complicated work project out the door and frankly just wasn’t home until very late most evenings. In addition to dealing with the work project I also got to spend a lot of time over the past three weeks trying to recover Sarah’s computer. As most of you know, she is a very dedicated H.S. Math teacher. She is always searching for material which will help make her lessons more interesting and relevant to her sometimes less than motivated students. Apparently she found something on a teacher website which looked useful, but proved deadly. She downloaded it and immediately knew that she had found some kind of virus. It turned out to be a really nasty virus. I spent about 7 hours trying to first identify the strain and to remove it. It was an Adware virus, which had some very robust self-protective features. The installed, but unfortunately out of date virus definitions on her computer were no help. I tried running a variety of web based tools, but each time I got close, the virus would shut the computer down, preventing any removal. I recognized that this thing was way beyond my skill level and so I took it down to Micro Center. In my experience they have some of the best tech support people around. After 3 days, they called me and said that it was taking “longer than usual”. After 5 days, I let the horse run free…no, wait wrong song, their lead anti-virus tech called me to let me know they had physically isolated her computer from their networks and that the really powerful tools that they rarely got to employ, were not working either. They pulled her hard drive and tried to recover her data. Two days later they called back and admitted defeat. The virus had won and their only option was to completely reformat the disk.
Now I am a backup fanatic. My backups have backups, but I should have been more diligent in making sure her computer was also set up that way. When I picked up her computer last Friday, I then spent the entire weekend reinstalling software, rebuilding iTunes and restoring her peace of mind. Thankfully, she has been using Dropbox to store all her teaching materials. As a secure cloud app, all that data was saved. The same was not true for anything else.
Folks, be sure you have records of your software licenses and keys somewhere. I use the very secure 1Password app to keep track of that stuff. I spent a good bit of time with the nice people at Microsoft. Thankfully, they had the records, since her Office software was part of a good deal they grant to teachers.
Back up your data to an external drive or to the cloud somewhere. It will save you a lot of grief. Oh, and here is a duck.