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Your computer will break

This past week I've helped about 5 people with different computer problems.  It got me to thinking of some basic concepts that I teach in my class that I think are relevant to everyone.

How will you recover your photos when you spill water on your computer?

On your home computer there is probably no more precious file than the photo memories you've taken.  Instagram, Facebook and Twitter might be a way you can store those memories but one strategy my wife and I used when our children were born has been great.  For mother's day we got our favourite pictures from the past year developed (ridiculously easy online and with our local photo store).  We made two really nice photo albums - one for my wife's parents, one for mine.  We took the time to print out labels of who was in the photo and the date/location.  Each year we had a ritual of adding to the photo album.  No problem if our computer gets fried or we lose access to our Facebook account - our precious memories are preserved for us, our children and our future grandchildren.  No technology required to access them in the future (I remember when you kept backups on floppy disks, they weren't future proof.  What makes you think social media will be?)

Your phone/computer/tablet are machines - they are breakable

I remember talking to someone when the line went dead.  They called me back a few minutes later and sheepishly apologized, they dropped their phone in the toilet. Watching how often people drop their devices, spill on them I'm amazed at how robust they actually are.  The one laptop my friend got me to look at had a hard drive that would horribly screech when powered on.  Something was preventing that motor from turning properly - could be a microscopic bend in the metal from a drop, some object smaller than a grain of dust could have gotten in.  Point is, it is not something that is easily (or cheaply) fixable.  Other local companies in town thought the same way.  All that data - gone.  A good backup system would have made a world of difference.