Being the “Tech Guy”

Firstly, let me state I enjoy my geek status. I like the fact that some of my friends and family rely on, and hopefully value my support and assistance when it comes to all things tech. Whilst stopping short of giving my life meaning it does give me a warm fuzzy feeling when my nearest and dearest are tech enabled because of my actions.

When you go into PC World (or other Microsoft Certified high street tech store) with an issue, the solution is often a Nuke and Pave. A full wipe of the hard drive, and re-installing the OS and transferring personal data from back up. Depending on how good the back ups are you may lose data you will definitely lose £100 as they charge you for 15 minutes work.

I hate this.

I like to try and fix the problem rather than deleting it. For the most part on the Windows side I was successful. However, it is stressful being an amateur (self taught) tech guru. Here are a few tips to make your tech guy relaxed.

Backup Your Own Data:

This is vital. The more regularly you back up, the less data you will lose, even if the guys at PC World have at your machine. But from a “Tech Guy” standpoint a good backup is great in case I mess up. I am a amateur, I am not perfect. Your backup is my safety blanket.

Offer Tea (or drink of choice):

Second on the importance list. A thirsty tech guy, is a irritable tech guy. Also (and I speak from experience) if I’m spending eight hours removing 82 trojans from your PC so that you can salvage your data and you don’t give me a drink. The nuke and pave “I can’t recover it” solution will soon be arrived at.

Don’t blame me, It’s not my responsibility:

You have asked me to (or I said I would) look at your machine. I am probably your friend/relative. I will try to best of my ability and knowledge to fix it. However if I’m not able to or as part of me fixing it, it goes wrong. I need to know I will not be blamed for the next fifteen years. I will already feel worse than you do.

Don’t Expect it to be completely free:

I will, provide my time and “expertise” for appreciation, sexual favours and Tea. (not all at the same time unless I’m very lucky.) However to fix your issue You may need to purchase a component or a piece of software. I will try to use free (open source) alternatives, but I do not have a “special place” to order stuff from where the “tech pixies” pay for stuff.

“It’s Not Perfect” (but it’s mine)

I will try to make every effort to recover your machine to where it was before the issue. In doing so I may have to delete things, move shortcuts, destroy saved games. Small sacrifices necessary to get your machine working. It may not be perfect, but it’s working.


I will leave you with instructions for general maintenance or guidelines after the fix. This is so you don’t repeat the same mistake again.

 Do what your tech guy has told you. Everyone wins.

(28DW) Getting Ones Back Up

I’m gonna take a wild stab in the dark and say you are reading these words on some type of screen. OK you could have printed it out but I’m sure the “Please consider the environment before printing…” nazis would have got to you. (On a side note, do those people ever consider that putting that message at the end of emails actually wastes print toner when the document is printed, and therefore is bad for the environment)

So, your MacBook retina display / PC / iPhone / iPad / Android etc is now quite happily displaying my blog. Now think for a minute, what would you do if suddenly and for no reason your device of choice died. Just like that. OK now you have tried holding the power button down, crying, prayer (to a God who before you never thought existed) you ring a geek friend, who in no uncertain terms tells you “It’s fucked mate”

Now, you take your wounded tech to the local Apple Store / PC World. They are able to fix it, but it was your hard drive that was the problem. Maybe copying Gaga’s dress made out of only magnets was a bad idea. “It’s ok, we’ll swap the hard drive and restore from a back up”

A back up…. you are sweating now. The guy in front of you in the store, with the lanyard, only left school yesterday, but you feel so inferior to him. Back up? Why did no-one say anything. Well they did. BACKUP YOUR STUFF.

Luckily it’s very easy to do and there are a number of free (aside from the cost of a backup drive) or cheap ways to do it.


On the Mac (I start here and move to lesser devices… haha, and they say Apple people are pretentious) Backup is very easy.

  1. Buy a suitably sized external hard-drive, the larger the better, has to be at least the same size as the drive inside your Mac.
  2. Plug drive into Mac
  3. If drive is PC formatted, open up Disk Utility, format to Mac OS (Extended Journaled)
  4. When drive is mounted, a box will appear asking do you wish to use “your hard drive” as Time Machine.
  5. Click Yes.

Your Mac will then perform a time machine backup, copying all your stuff. The first time you run this it will take longer than the subsequent times.

One downside to time machine is that you can’t boot from it. (Your Mac will not start from it) If you want this, Carbon Copy Cloner is the best around. It used to be free, but it’s not anymore. £25.95 for use on your Mac or any Mac’s you look after. Time Machine is a place to start for any Mac owner.. for free.

Carbon Copy Cloner in Action

Carbon Copy Cloner in Action


OK, surprise surprise I don’t have a PC. So I can only go on the recommendation of Alternative to.. and a PC Alternative to Carbon Copy Cloner is Clonezilla. It’s free, give it a go. Alternatively use Macrium Reflect.

Cloud Services:

iPhone / iPad:

Most of you will now be using devices that are compatible with iCloud. Just make sure you have iCloud backup turned on and you should be ok. For additional piece of mind, occasionally backup your iDevices to your computer too.


Android has no equivalent to iCloud in terms of full device backup. However Google do sync all your contacts, bookmarks and photos. If you sell them your soul to do so. If you don’t like Google, or do not trust them not to be evil. Consider Indefend Mobile.. and why you brought an Android.

* *

There is now a plethora of cloud based backup services. From Dropbox (use this link to get a free 2GB storage) to Both of these services start out free and have mobile apps, both are useful for storing single files that you need to access or update on the go, both have sharing functions.

In the states there have been services like SugarSync for a long time. This is an offsite backup, always useful to have. Bitcasa is a UK alternative and something I am considering.

In conclusion, there are now so many documents, photos and save game files we hold dear to us. So many ways of keeping them safe. Don’t wait until you are burned by hardware failure. It’s not a question of if it goes wrong.. it will. Make sure you are ready. And don’t get caught..

Screen Shot 2013-02-09 at 18.31.34

Please check out the work of my 28DW reprobates  at The Resident Weeble and A Piece of Pandemonium  or kittens will die.