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.
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.
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.