The excitement of getting a new computer can often distract us from the important task of organizing the computer and its accouterments. Once the screen lights up, you instantly forget about things like the emergency recovery disk. That is, until there is an actual emergency. Part of being organized is being prepared for the times you hope will never arrive, but often do.
While on vacation and enjoying some rum punch, my boyfriend and I got into a very heated debate about whether a woman should be flattered or insulted by being called an Amazon. In his hurried attempt to Google examples to make his case and avoid being smitten by my Amazonian sword, he accidentally spilled some punch onto the laptop keyboard. At the time, I was mostly upset that I wouldn’t be able to finish my rum punch, but a little later the reality hit. I didn’t know what software was on my computer, where to find my back-ups or my software license numbers. When I called some of the software companies, they said I would need the date of purchase. I could remember the year, but certainly not the actual date.
When I had received the laptop, I’d thrown the box and its contents into the garage. I was finally able to locate the box and emergency recovery disk, but software I had added later was stored in various locations throughout my office. It took hours to find each disk or license keys. All this trouble could have been avoided by either not drinking rum punch while using my computer or by properly organizing my computer in the beginning.
I have since created a Computer Recovery Box. You may never have the occasion to use it, but there is a certain peace of mind that comes from being prepared.
The steps to creating a Tech Recovery Box are as follows:
1. Purchase a lidded box, I prefer the See Jane Work Document or Art Box, depending on the space needed.
2. Label the box with the exact computer it has been created for. For example: Dell Laptop, service tag B5TK3. The service tag or other identifying number can usually be found somewhere on the computer.
3. Purge any software or hardware you will not be using. For example you probably don’t need 4 free mouse pads or a disk with trial software.
4. Download and complete the Tech Recovery Form, then log each product ID, date of purchase, software version, and even purchase location. You should also include the model, serial number and purchase date of the computer.
5. Retain all receipts for the computer, software, and accessories. Some receipts use ink that tends to fade. Photo copy the receipts whenever possible. The larger size paper is less likely to get lost, and the ink won’t fade.
6. If you use an online back up system keep the User ID, Password, and a telephone number in the computer box as well. If you actually need the back-up you may not have immediate access to the internet, but you can at least call and find out what steps will be necessary to recover your data.
I hope you never have to use it, but if your computer crashes or even if you upgrade your computer you may need those old license keys and software. You’ll be glad you took the hour or less to set up a Tech Recovery Box. Once you finish pour yourself a rum punch to celebrate, but please don’t drink it near your computer.