I was working in Photoshop recently when my system locked up—hard. I couldn’t even get into Task Manager. I’d had a few such experiences recently so I did what I usually do: shut down with the power button and restart. Except the restart part wasn’t happening this time.
After opening the case and unplugging all my other hard drives and SSDs I determined conclusively that my Windows system SSD was toast. I was surprised as it’s a Kingston SSD and I have three other Kingston SSDs that have been working great for several years now. Kingston has a reputation for building quality products but this SSD, the newest of the bunch, was dead to the world.
The good news, I figured, is that I have a Carbonite backup plan with their Mirror Image option. Carbonite is a cloud backup service which is great as it gives me a continuous off-site backup. And the Mirror Image feature provides a full backup of my system drive with an updated snapshot taken every day. That backup goes to an external USB drive so I figured all I needed was a new SSD that I could restore to. In the end, that’s about what happened although there were some detours along the way.
The first detour was to the local Staples to get a new SSD as I couldn’t wait a week for a warranty replacement. With the new SSD plugged in, I popped my Carbonite restore disc into my DVD drive and booted up. Hmm, the screen said “Carbonite” but it was garbled and there were no buttons that I could click. Another disc had the same problem so I went into my UEFI settings and found one to boot up with 1024 x 768 resolution instead of HD. I selected the low-res setting and rebooted with hopeful anticipation. But it was no go. Same problem.
At this point, I was getting worried and running out of ideas so I called Carbonite. Happily, I was connected quickly to a native English-speaking tech support rep. After escalation to tier 2 we were able to determine the screen-garbling problem was related to my NVIDIA Quadro graphics card. By changing a different UEFI setting I was able to use the motherboard’s integrated graphics adapter and was then able to successfully boot the Carbonite disc.
From that point on, I was able to start the Carbonite Mirror Image restore software which worked perfectly to restore my Windows system to its state earlier that same morning. The moral of the story, of course, is that backups are essential if you depend on your computer. In my case, I didn’t have any data on my system drive so I could have simply reinstalled Windows and all my software. But that would have taken an entire weekend and I would have lost a bunch of customizations and user settings. Also, there can be issues with some software not being deactivated properly and, therefore, not wanting to reactivate. Having a good system image allowed me to shortcut the system rebuilding process and get back to work quickly.
So, all’s well that ends well. But before I go I wanted to mention one other problem which had been plaguing me recently. After a previous new SSD and Windows installation I was experiencing mysterious semi-random delays. Launching certain programs would take 30 or 40 seconds. But, if I exited and restarted they would start up in just a few seconds. I was also experiencing unexplained hanging during certain other operations, again, sometimes for nearly a minute. The problem turned out to be my anti-virus software. After replacing it with another brand my problems vanished. I won’t mention the vendor of the problem software as I had used them for a number of years previously with no problem. So, it may just be an incompatibility with some aspect of my home-built system. Just a heads-up if you should develop unexplained performance problems. Try disabling your anti-virus software and see what happens.
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