Douglas Thompson's Blog
10 March  2007
Hug Your Data

These fingers have barely left a keyboard since the days of Kaypro, Osborne and CPM, the operating system that came before DOS, long before anyone ever thought of Windows. Monitors were monochrome and four or five inches across. Mice did not exist and nobody had a modem because the internet had not been invented yet. Most computers back then did not even have a hard drive. When 10mb drives came on the market they were a pretty big deal.

Given my experience, I do not think I am a complete idiot when it comes to computers. At least I did not think so until last week.

A newspaper I read here has a weekly section that deals with technology and computers. Each week the editor reviews a piece of software that S/He believes is something readers should use. Last week's program-of-the-week was software that "magically" gets rid of junk on your computer so it will run faster. My Fujitsu notebook (and recently given the name "Piece of Shit" in Windows) has been a bit sluggish lately and XP Manager, the program I normally use to clean out the junk files on my drives, does not seem to have made any big improvement. So, what the heck. I downloaded the program and ran it.

The thorough way this program cleaned up my hard drive was nothing short of, well, magic. During the process the program found more than twenty thousand temp files that should be disposed of. Fantastic! How could XP Manager leave so much junk around to slow me down? As the unneeded files were being zapped I got messages that Service Pack Two files were being replaced with other files of an unknown type. But why be nervous? The geeks who have enough time to make software to give away free must be brilliant enough to trust.

In the end, most of the files on my hard drive vanished, leaving empty folders. That's thorough cleaning if you ask me! Like most people, I do not back up my data every hour, much less every day, but some of my data could be restored from backup CDs and thumb drives. However, I am left without any software, fonts, or all that music I downloaded at considerable expense.

The moral of the story? Well, back up every hour if you cherish your data. And avoid any software that claims to be "magic," because it probably isn't. And last, make a rational choice between what your computer really needs and what S/He needs to fill an empty space with on a newspaper page.

Honestly, this has cost me many hours and tens of thousands of baht (many hundreds of dollars). I will never believe anything S/He has to say again.

By the way, XP Manager is a pretty darn good piece of software. It has never let me down, unlike some newspaper people.

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