Hi Folks -
You may haven noticed that I haven't posted for some time now. That's because a few days ago, just as I was logging in to the Internet to put up a posting, my computer screen suddenly went black and a gray box appeared with the words:
Beginning physical memory dump.
You cannot imagine the horror I felt! I tried in vain to turn off the computer and stop whatever devastation was occurring. No such luck. It would not turn off manually, it would not respond to control-alt-delete, and even when I unplugged it the machine continued to run on battery power.
Long story short - the hard drive blew. And although I have saved various critical projects on a jump drive, I didn't have a comprehensive data back-up plan in place so I lost essentially everything.
I have a 2-year old Dell Latitude with a 4-year warranty, so they sent a techie to my house to give me a new hard drive. Then he casually boxed up my old hard drive and slipped it in his bag. WHOA! What about my data? Apparently Dell does not do data recovery AND they have a "part for a part" replacement policy whereby if they give me a new part, I have to give them the old part. NO WAY, I said. If your product failed (they think the hard drive blew because of some sort of mechanical problem) you don't get to abscond with my data. So they gave me 7 days to get my data and return the old hard drive to them. 7 Days. Right at Christmas time. When my whole household was down with the flu (did I forget to mention that part?). Well not the whole household. In accordance with the irrevocable rules of all things Mommy, I did not get sick while the rest of them lay in the throes of agony calling for liquids, pain meds, the remote control, another pillow, etc. etc.
So in a rare lull in the action, I dashed over to the most famous tech repair shop in town. They checked my disk, told me it was torched, and they could send it out to a clean room facility in Kentucky for a "third level data recovery attempt" which would cost me between $1,500 and $2,000. Hmmmmm...how badly did I want my old life back?
I mentioned my struggles to a colleague who thought their number was high and told me about a little shop he used a couple of years ago to fix his wife's computer. He said they recovered data others said was irrecoverable, and they were CHEAP! But he couldn't remember their name - just that they were "a few blocks south of 62." I immediately kicked into gear with my well-honed PhD-level research skills and pulled out the yellow pages. I looked under "Computers" and there was a small, unassuming ad:
Chip Heads. Data Recovery. On Penn Avenue a few blocks south of 62 in lovely Richfield. http://www.chipheads.com/
Their shop was neat, clean, welcoming, and most of all - encouraging! In less than 24 hours they cheerfully recovered all of my data for about $250. Awesome!! These guys are running a great business - I cannot say enough positive things about the great experience I had with them.
So the moral of the story is this: 1) regularly back-up your data. I now have a remote hard drive I save everything to (the guys at Chip Heads will give you good advice on this. Since they don't sell computer gear, they will recommend what is most cost-effective for you). 2) If you have a problem with your computer and you live in the Twin Cities metro area, don't waste your time with the big name, glitzy shops. Go see the guys at Chip Heads. You'll save time and money, and you'll have a great customer service experience.