21 November 2013

Computer problem and backup plans

I got out of bed as usual and turned on my desktop computer upstairs. I have the same routine every morning. Then I came downstairs to make a pot of tea and start reading mails and writing a blog post. As I got to the bottom of the stairs I heard a loud, sad whining noise coming from upstairs. No it wasn't Callie, and it wasn't Walt. It was my computer.

I had to go back upstairs in the dark and turn the computer off. I hope it's just the cooling fan and not a hard disk that is dying. Actually, I've never known a hard disk to make noise like that, and I've had several of them die on me since I started using computers at home about 25 years ago. So it must be the fan. That should be easy enough to fix or replace.

The problem is that I have literally hundreds of thousands of photos going back to the 1990s, both raw, straight-out-of-the-camera images and Photoshop-edited, blog versions of many of them, stored on the main hard disk on that desktop computer. The computer itself is nearly seven years old; the hard disk is newer, but not by much. I have a second, external hard disk plugged into a USB port, and I have all the photos and many other documents and archives backed up on that disk. It is therefore unlikely that I have lost much, whatever the computer problem might be, because I just did a backup two or three days ago. I didn't have anything special to do this morning — but now I do...

All that is to say that I don't have access to my photos this morning. What I do have is a collection of photos from my two Paris "vacations" last summer stored still on my tablet computer. Here are some of those that I never got around to posting. These are photos of a big monument to the 19th century French scientist Louis Pasteur that stands in the neighborhood where my friend CHM has his apartment. The Institut Pasteur is also in the neighborhood.

Pasteur of course came up with the process named after him, pasteurization, based on the germ theory that discredited old ideas about spontaneous generation being the cause of food spoilage. In other words, food like broths, wine, beer, and milk spoiled because of germs floating in the air, and not because organisms developed in them spontaneously. He also contributed to the development of modern vaccines, including the rabies and anthrax vaccines and immunizations for animals and humans. You might know a lot more about all this than I do.

The Pasteur monument in Paris is on the circular Place de Breteuil, not far from the Sèvres-Lecourbe metro station, nor from the guilded dome of the Invalides church where Napoleon's tomb is located. There's a well-known restaurant, Le Bistro de Breteuil, on the Place, and there's a fine open-air market a couple of days a week on the Avenue de Saxe, just on the other side of the Place. The Avenue de Breteuil and the Place de Breteuil make up one of the most beautiful areas of contemporary Paris.


  1. Oh dear, there's always something going wrong.
    In this house it usually happens the moment Nick pulls out of the drive on his way to somewhere for a few days working away. Which is what he did just now.......

  2. Wish you all the best Ken, I hate it when that sort of thing happens!!
    Our pix are backed up on "The Brain" [a one 'Terror'byte NAS drive in the system]...
    and on the 750 Mugglebyte by my computer...
    and the 500 Mugglebyte that is plugged into the USB port on The Brain...
    and still, somehow, I have lost a tranche of pix from 2010 when we moved over [and that isn't the reason... they just didn't get backed up across the system... and I must have deleted them from my machine]... AAAAAARRGH!

    Dabs.com in the UK are toing some amazing offers at the moment on USB2 and Network storage... One Terrorbyte drives for £50... and when I think what a 3.5 pouce disc used to cost!!
    But they don't deliver to France... you would have to get it sent to Jean and wait for Boxing Day!!

  3. We can recommend Geek garage in Mezières-en-Brenne, he will fix anything to your spec even if he doen't think you're doing the right thing! P.

  4. I don't know what happened this morning, but everything seems to be working normally now. I took advantage of the situation to open up the computer and vacuum out all the dust and dog hair.

    Tim, my external USB drive is 1.5 TB. The internal drive is 750 GB. Both seem to be working normally. Ouf !

    Thanks, Pauline, I'll keep that in mind.

  5. Ken, I hope the problem is not too serious with your pc, and that it is an easy fix.
    Thank goodness you have everything safely backed up externally.

  6. The gremlins or imps [Discworld] inside your computer wanted some TLC [or the cleaning done]...
    so squawked at you!!

    Our 2CVs are like that!!

    In fact, I beieve that ALL elderly Citröens attract their carers attention that way!!

  7. I've been to Place de Breteuil a couple of times, but never took the time to enjoy the statue's tribute to Pasteur. It's beautiful!

    The Pasteur institute is still on my bucket list since I think it would be neat to see the lab where this genius worked.

    Glad your computer chose life today. Lewis kindly backs up all of my stuff since I am clueless.

  8. Tim, I see a load of 2 TB external drives on amazon.fr for between 80 and 100 euros each. How much is that in pounds sterling?

  9. Next trip to Paris I will have the Pasteur Institute and environs a high priority. Your photos and text inspire me and enlighten me!

    For only seven years I was a commuter in Southern California, fighting the traffic. Now, in hindsight I absolutely know I would be a different person if I had continued that life. TOO MUCH STRESS.
    Yes, the pay was better and of course the sunshine is nice. However, not nearly as wonderful as being able to spend that time doing as I choose and not stuck in a car!
    As for your life, as you have described it, compared to your life before, appears heavenly. I, too, appreciate reading about your vie quotidienne with Walt, Callie and Bertie. Merci, Ken.

  10. Il faut être paranoïaque en matière de backup. Vous avez un disque de sauvegarde et c'est très bien. Il ne faut pas le laissé branché entre deux sauvegardes.
    Le mieux est d'avoir deux disques de sauvegarde, chacun géré par un logiciel de sauvegarde différent, et que l'un des deux disques se trouve dans un lieu différent de celui ou se trouve l'autre, notamment pour limiter le risque de perte de données en cas d'incendie ou de vol.

  11. I so hope your problem was not too serious and you get it sorted out ,,

    Another place for me to see in Paris , I really need more time there, not short trips just a fewer longer ones.

    My husband is an IT consultant for Formula 1 , I have no problems backing up etc , but it is a pain when something goes wrong with the computer , We have server in our loft LOL

  12. Good to see the problem is apparently resolved.

  13. Ah, Le Bistro de Breteuil. We went on your recommendation a several years ago and it was excellent!


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