I was going to hire someone to do this for me, but I simply couldn’t keep my hands off the equipment for a whole week.

First, I solved a baffling problem that arose a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t completely turn off my computer. It used to automatically turn off when I closed the lid, which is what I told it to do. Then, two weeks ago, It would go to sleep — which I told it to never do — and would stay slightly awake all the time, even with the plug removed. I tried holding the “off/on” button for the five seconds and the computer would — instead of turning off — reboot.

I was going to hire a guy to fix it when I decided to Google it. “Why,” I asked, “Won’t my computer shut down?”

It turns out that it can be an internal program — like Windows itself — that’s waiting permanently for updates. Or, it can be any device to which your computer is connected, from the dongle for your mouse or our mouse, to a speaker or, for that matter, a reader for your SD cards. The moment I read it I realized it had to be the Windows update function which until recently I was able to turn off unless there was an update actually downloaded. In one of the recent updates, that option was removed. Now, my computer was permanently on call for a download.

I set it to “skip downloads” for 1 week. You can actually set it for as long as 35 days, but I downloads usually show up on Tuesdays, so I set it to release next Tuesday. Voila! I turned it off and it went OFF. I guess I don’t need “the guy” to fix it after all.

WD 2TB SSD Passport external hard drive

I spent a lot more money than I wanted to spend on two very fast SSD 2 TB external drives made by Western Digital (WD). I’ve had very good luck with WD drives. It’s the only drive that has never failed me.

I always back up to more than one drive regardless. No matter how good the product is, there’s 5-6% sudden death statistic for all single external drives. Higher for some models. No matter what you buy, it might stop working. It might die in a week or six months or be DOA when you get it. That’s just life in the digital lane.

I’ve had at least five hard drives die over the years including some really super expensive ones. This has taught me to hold a powerful belief in backups. I’ve had a lot of external drives go bad too, from the early ones that used actual Mylar tape to traditional (standard) drives. This time, given the volume of material I need to store, I went out on a limb and bought two 2-TB SSDs. Each drive cost about twice what a 4-TB standard drive would cost, but each of them runs about 10 times faster than a standard drive.

Given the volume of material I need to back up, I would have liked bigger drives, but a 4-TB drive cost at least $600 and that was beyond my means.

case for 2TB drive

So when I wrote all of my photo and document files onto the 2 TB drive this evening. Imagine my surprise when all these files — which took up more than a TBs on the computer — needed just 57 GBs on the SSD drive. It turns out the SSD uses exFAT files that are specifically designed for flash drives. They are compatible with all Windows operating system and all newer Macs. What makes them so small is that they don’t have the “overhead” as FAT32 and NTFS files. Things like permissions and other security-related data.

This was great news. It meant these two drives will last a lot longer than I thought they would. Having spent the extra money, I’m really glad.

In between, I had bought a standard 4-TB drive which, it turns out, is not designed for Windows at all, but for a Mac. Well, okay. I should have read the information more carefully but, as it happens, I have a Mac that has a smallish SSD drive in it. This can become the drive space I’ve needed to make that computer more useful and it cost just a bit over $100.

G-Technology builds for Macs. I knew that but somehow forgot when I bought it. Never mind. I have a Mac so all is well despite my blundering.

The second SSD drive — identical to this one, but a different color so I can tell the difference — should arrive on Friday. Backing up my documents took under a minute (documents are tiny compared to photographs). The photographs took just over an hour and I can finish all the backing up before the weekend.

The more difficult and frankly worrisome chore, is deleting. Copying material is easy. Deleting huge amounts can be dicey. I’m going to have to do it one file at a time. I need to remove basically all my files from 2012 through 2016. If that doesn’t give me enough space, I’ll have to add 2017 to the list.

I learned a lot. Not only about back up and flash drives, but about how to find things on Windows 10 which has to be the most confusing version of Windows ever produced. It has all the same functions as every other version of Windows, but they moved things so there are virtual copies of files all over the operating system. I thought this backup wasn’t going to work until I realized that I was copying files from one of the myriad virtual locations. I had to actually find D drive and move them from there. Once I found the drive — it isn’t easy! — everything downloaded fine.

Microsoft, please! Get your house in order. I do not need or want 10 different versions of the same file scattered all over the drive. Just put them where they belong and please, bring back law and order to your operating system!

Not that anyone is listening. In the insane “what were they thinking when they created that GUI,” Amazon just turned my perfectly functional Kindle into a completely dysfunctional Kindle on which I can’t find my Audible library, much less download and play audiobooks.

It’s a thing. It’s going around. Rationality has fled the high-tech world and everyone is doing whatever they feel like without any consultation or advice from people who actually use the product. All I can think of is that these companies have hired a lot of expensive developers who they feel they should be doing something useful to earn their salaries. This is “the something useful ” that kept them busy during the year of COVID.

It’s every bit as good as you might expect given the year of its birth. Software is now 2020 forever. I hate it.

Categories: Anecdote, Apple, Computers, PC-format, Software, Technology, You can't make this stuff up

Tags: , , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. Agree fully re WD SSD Passport – I have mine since ‘forever’ and although it’s full to bursting capacity, it still functions like a brand new one. BUT funny to see your post here and NOW, this week I was surfing for a more capable ‘passport’ – much needed for my photos.
    And THANK YOU for explaining why on earth I have at least 4 or 5 copies of the same photo when I searched for one specific one and although I couldn’t find THE ONE, found 4 & 5 copies of every other pic – in various locations. I thought I had gone crazy and didn’t realise it!


      1. Windows works. But it’s messy. Having worked in high tech and software development for close to 40 years — truly, I have lost track — one of the things I learned is that GOOD software gets cleaned up when it’s finished. Developers go back and delete the “junk” that has no valid use or is too old to function. The cheesy way to do it is to mark it as “don’t use this” and just leave it. This results in huge software where more of the material is useless junk that functional. THIS is Windows and it’s what’s wrong with Windows.

        A lot of the “features” in Windows are really pieces of leftover junk that should have been deleted. And that is why you have trouble even finding where functions or pictures or document are live vs.copies. They have got to clean it up. I think the next version will be cleaner or it simply will stop working. But hey, it’s not my corporation!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beware of G-Drives, I’ve experienced two catastrophic failures and so, will never buy another one. For standard drives I buy “Glyph,” designed for media users/creators. Fortunately I had those files backed up on other drives, but ti was a shock never the less. The word around “Techyland” is much like the warnings in other tech dependent fields “It’s not “if” but “when” it will fail. Of course like many who, at the time couldn’t afford to buy as many, or as big a drive as I needed, pursued my professional life with all my fingers crossed. Not a good way to live.


    • That’s why I always have more than one. All drives fail, some more than others. I’ve had very good experiences with Western Digital — never had one of them fail. All the others including RAID drives, Seagate (twice), and hey, remember Ultram? They’re gone. They were great and then they were crap and disappeared.

      I think I have a small G drive for my Mac already, a little one. I gave this big one to Owen to back up his music files. He’s looking — and maybe you would know — a file converter so everything doesn’t become an iTunes file. He wants everything to a file that any computer can read. HE has an old Mac. It’s about 9 years old, but it’s running the current OS. So far, so good.

      In my experience, all drives will fail. Some will fail sooner, others later. But they have a lifespan of three to five years, after which when they suddenly slow down — or just stop running — or begin making grinding noises. Time to replace It. Way better to replace before the failure! That’s what happened with my huge WD desktop backup (which I’ve been using for laptops for about 7 years). It was fine, then month, it slowed down so much it was like a different drive.

      Uh oh. It shouldn’t have lasted 7 years anyway, so it didn’t owe me anything, especially because I didn’t pay for it in the first place (a credit from Dell). They owed me money and didn’t want to give me real money so they gave me a credit and I bought the drive. But that was two computers ago.

      The only thing about these little WD SSD drives is that they run awfully hot. Everyone has mentioned it, but they seem to be okay anyway. I don’t use them daily so hopefully, they’ll be alright. I’m a monthly backer-upper. I keep all my cards until I’m ready to back up.


      • The thing about SSDs is that there are no moving parts to wear out, they are like big SD, or CF cards only more sophisticated…, we hope? Some tend to run a little warm, but that’s just the internal electrical activity. I have discovered “SanDisk” SSD portable drives where I store all my images.., I use another one to back up the whole computer because, I hate to say it, the G-Drive RAID I was using failed. One day it works, the next it just doesn’t. Can’t live with that. SanDisk also makes a model for use in your computer and I have 1TB drives in both of my MacBook Pro laptops. So far, so good and the other advantage is the computers don’t take for ever to boot.., lightening fast, a refreshing side plus.


  3. Hi Marilyn, well done on sorting out the reason for your computer shutting down. We are so luck to have Google. I use it to help me solve problems like this too. Your final comments did make me laugh. How often do people do things to show how relevant they are and it just makes life harder. It happens all the time in corporate.


    • All these developers have had a whole year to literally do whatever they wanted to do and I think the awful software we are getting is the result. Does ANYONE in corporate ever check with customers? It’s hard to believe what a disaster Amazon has made of what was a perfectly functioning Amazon version of Android. Now, you can’t find anything. It’s just horrible and my question is WHY? Did they do it because no one had ever tried it? Didn’t someone think there might be a reason why no one had tried it? That possibly, it doesn’t work?

      I’m getting really tired of fixing A only to discover they’ve changed everything and I’m going to have to do it again, Sigh.


  4. “All I can think of is that these companies have hired a lot of expensive developers who they feel they should be doing something useful to earn their salaries. This is “the something useful ” that kept them busy during the year of COVID.”

    You’re catching on.


  5. I liked problem solving too but now I just get frustrated and give up.


    • It’s just exhausting and as soon as you get one thing straightened out, they change the software again and you’re back to another version of start. It’s like falling through the various dimensions of reality.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think the only solution is NOT to update. I remember when I had a Pc, every update used to invoke a feeling of dread.


        • Yeah, but these days, you really can’t do that without finding that parts of your computer won’t work with updated software. I hung onto Win 7 until 10 came out, but they were closing down 7 and I had to move on. Now, they simply don’t let you not update. You have to. It’s in their contract. Unless you have an older version of Windows, if you don’t update, they can refuse to let you get a new version of windows when it comes out and it will. I just hope that the next one is better. Win 10 was fine until their recent fixes.

          Liked by 1 person

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