Sep 02

Computer CrashWhen I was going to Singapore for my bi-annual Visa Run last week, I brought my Laptop with me, because it showed occasionally some flickery display. Sometimes white colours would turn into green light shining through the LCD, pretty strange behavior. Looked like a cable inside the thing was loose or not properly installed. No problem, I thought – still warranty. Down at the Asus Service Center in ‘The Adelphi’, right next to Funan IT Mall, I unsuccessfully tried to to reproduce the Error for the Service Staff to see – when disaster stroke.

After a standard Reboot, the machine took about 10 minutes to load into Windows and after that – nothing anymore.


“Obviously a Hard Drive Crash” said the Technician. Auha!

Having to do with Computers for the last 20 years, this was the first one happening on me, so I guess it was just about time. Luckily it happened while in Singapore and and right in their Service Center. So Friday, 2 days after, I could pick up my precious gadget with a brand-new hard drive and tightened display.

Open Hard Drive - Don't try that at home.Great Service, nice and friendly Staff and – best of all – FOC, Free Of Charge.

The only difference: instead of a 90% full disc, it was now 90% blank, besides Vista Ultimate and some Asus Bloatware. My old Hard Drive was already on its way to Taiwan for further inspection, so I was told.

I congratulated myself, that I had backup-ed at least my Documents Folder onto a USB hard drive, before leaving Bali. So all Documents, Pictures, Videos and Website Contents were safe at home.

Uhhhh! What a relieve.

But now the real pain started, to re-install all the little, nifty Updates, Settings, Programs, Tools and Games I used before. Thanks to my idol Lee Kuan Yew (or other family members of the Lee Empire) for ‘Wireless @ SG’, the Free Internet Initiative in Singapore, the first part was the easy part. Sitting in Funan’s TCC outlet (The Coffee Connoisseurs – something like Starbucks or Coffee Bean), I downloaded and installed the 34 currently available Vista Updates in less than 15 minutes.

Hah – I love the Speed of Broadband in the Morning!

Even better than 3G in Bali.

AVG Antivirus, Free Download Manager, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Firefox, GoogleBrowserSync, Skype, Zoundry Blog Writer took a bit longer. Especially downloading my whole Yahoo Inbox into Window Mail, which I couldn’t finish. After 2 hours I had to rush picking up my Visa from the Indonesian Embassy and moving on to Changi’s Terminal 1 for my flight back home. With another hour to spend I used the facilities at Changi to download some more Tools and completed downloading the rest of my Inbox just in time.

Unfortunately there is no ‘Wireless @ SG’ at Changi, to use the Internet, you have the following choices:

  • use one of the plenty Free Internet Terminals, or (if you want to use your own Laptop)
  • bring your own Ethernet Cable to connect it
  • buy an Ethernet Cable for SGD 19 in the Terminal’s Computer Shop, or
  • pay SGD 6 for 30 minutes ‘StarHub Wireless’

On the plane it struck me.

MS Vista - Windows Mail, no password protection?Didn’t I configure my E-Mail to automatically sync down to my old hard drive? My whole E-Mail traffic was there for every Asus Geek in Taipei to see. Great. How about sites I joined, confirmation e-mails with Accounts, Passwords and other personal information? The Browser stores Account Information and Passwords as well. Oh yes, all there. And Windows Vista Mail doesn’t even have a Master Password for launching Mail. The Windows Login Password I had to remove for the Asus Technician.

Am I paranoid? After all – the Hard Drive crashed, or didn’t it?

Somehow I had a strange feeling about the whole episode. It can’t be good to have Accounts and Passwords so openly exposed, even though on a probably disfunctioned Media. Maybe they send it somewhere for repairs, because it’s still under warranty? Maybe it was simply some other problem? Who knows, not me. The feeling in my stomach got worse.

Did you see the movie ‘One Hour Photo‘ with Robin Williams? Then you know what I mean. In every corporation there are always employees who take a bit more interest in private data of customers. And then, there are so many stories about Identity Theft out there. Hm.

So nervously back at home I changed a couple of dozens Account Passwords, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, Google, Adsense, Paypal, Feedburner, Xing, WordPress, Dreamhost Hosting, Digg, Netscape, FTP, LogMeIn, Portals and Aggregator Sites and what else I could remember of. What a pain!

But then I felt better.

So, it’s now Sunday Evening and I’m almost done installing Games: Civilization IV, Silent Hunter III & IV, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Gothic III, Battlestation Midway, Warhammer – Mark of Chaos, Prey, Heroes of Might and Magic V and old time favorites like Far Cry, SimCity 4, Railroad Tycoon 3, Doom III or Serious Sam II.

Slowly I’m getting back on track, so expect a few more ‘normal’ posts the next couple of days. ;-)

Backup Files and User Settings regularlyLessons learned:

  • Backup, Backup, Backup! (Do it regularly: Documents, Files and User Settings)
  • Don’t leave personal documents on your Hard Drive, when bringing your Computer in for repairs
  • Erase Private Data and Cookies from Browser Cache (especially Auto-Formfill), before bringing your Computer in for repairs
  • Have a Mail Password, use Webmail only or use grown-up Desktop Mail Programs, which provide Master Passwords, like Mozilla Thunderbird, Eudora, Foxmail – or – if it has to be something you paid for – MS Outlook
  • Sync your Browser-Favorites for fast Recovery
  • Change your Passwords frequently

So am I over this episode? I certainly hope so. At least I can sleep well again tonight. ;-)

What Computer Mishaps happened to you? Do you have similar stories to tell?

Please feel free to comment extensively!

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written by Chris

10 Responses to “Computers can be a Royal Pain…sometimes”

  1. Tariq BamadhajNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    It will always be a fine balance between security and user-experience. If you were to always wipe out your personal data with every shutdown, you would definitely be secure but then comes the tasks of always having to input those same data or running them off your hdd or usb drive the next time you need to use it.

  2. ShamsNo Gravatar AUSTRIA Says:

    Dear Mr. Nomad, You have a very nice site. I am very much impressed!! Wonderful. I am happy to know that you are in many Asian countries. I am from Bangladesh. Hope to read more from you. Shams.

  3. GSNo Gravatar ROMANIA Says:

    You should rather use an encrypted partition for sensitive data. It is a little slower but it’s definitely a good ideea for any mobile device (What if you loose that device ?).
    Even windows own encrypted filesystem is better than nothing and usually enough to detter the usually over curious geek (EFS is the easiest to use as it is already integrated.But it has some weak points…)
    For further informations, start here :
    and then
    and finally about windows own efs :

  4. sjbaliNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    hey chris…

    i don’t get it!! Why you gave your hard drive away?????? A new one isn’t that expensive! Don’t you know that you can recover everything, even on a broken hard drive??/ Even after dozen of formats????

    Guess the Guys had a lot of fun whit it ;)


    Since there is so much software out there, recovering files aren’t that difficult anymore, of course a backup is still a must!!!


    … so when we will do our going eat and catch up story??? :D


  5. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Dear GS and Sjbali, you are definitely right and I learned my lesson in the hard way. I will now use encryption and take better care of my personal data. The thing is, everything happened so fast. I was there actually to get my display fixed when suddenly the hard-drive gave up. It wasn’t even clear if it was crashed or just any other problem. So I left it there for the Service Technicians to fix it. When I picked up my computer 2 days later, the old hard drive was already on its way to Taiwan for further examination, as it was a Laptop still under warranty. Tough luck basically. Arlglglgl! ;-)

  6. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Hi, Chris!
    I’m also using AVG Antivirus for my anti-virus program and Firefox for my browser…

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