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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in laterlife 


Getting the most from your computerYou can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.

Jackie has also written the books shown here - you can find more details about these by clicking on the cover images above. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s. 


Every day computer activitiesVia Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, why not email her 

Or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too..

View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers



February 2012


Q: I switched on my computer and it wouldn't start up at all. Is there anything I can do to save all my data?


A: This is, sadly, a very common problem. The most dangerous time for a computer is when you turn it on or off because of the surge of power, and so this is when a problem can suddenly arise.

Here are some of the common reasons for not starting up:


1. It may not be the computer itself but actually the monitor that is the problem, so check that the light comes on. If not, you may need to replace the power supply.

If you don't get the normal start-up screens, you may have a problem with the computer's power supply. Alternatively, it could be more serious as the BIOS (the software running your system) may be corrupted and this usually requires expert help.

3. If the reason is your operating system such as Windows doesn't load, you may able to start with a boot up or installation disk and can then follow the steps to repair your system.

4. If you get a message that the computer cannot find the hard drive, it may be a simple matter of a loose connection or, sadly, an indication that the hard drive has reached the end of its life and will have to be replaced.

Prevention is better than cure and so you MUST discipline yourself to copy all important files and programs onto alternative media regularly. As well as saving copies of files onto CDs, DVDs and memory sticks, you can buy inexpensive external hard drives to plug in and you can then get into the habit of backing up your whole system daily or weekly, depending on the material you tend to save onto your machine. If backing up data hasn't occurred to you, or if you have been putting it off - do it today!

Think about keeping more data in space (known as "cloud" computing). For example, your emails will usually be stored on the server as well as downloaded onto your computer and you can usually set your system NOT to delete messages once they are downloaded, so there is always a copy. If you have free web space provided by your broadband provider, store important files online, or if you take lots of photos you can upload them to sites such as Flickr. Always keep CD-ROMS of your operating system, the programs you install and the product keys handy so you can re-install everything once you have inserted a new hard drive.

There are software programs available that are meant to be effective in recovering lost data (although I haven't personally tried any of them), so it could be worth researching into some of these, e.g. on Amazon.

Check the warranty on your hard drive as you may be able to get a new one free if there is a manufacturing fault. That won't include lost data, but for very important material it may be worth paying a data recovery firm to access the files on your damaged hard drive.

If you cannot get the drive to work and have nothing to lose, some people say that freezing a hard drive for a few hours in an airtight bag may allow you to access the files for long enough to copy them to another drive (although I have yet to meet someone who has done this successfully).

Others have bought a new drive that matches the damaged drive exactly, swapped over the main controller board and got the failed drive working again this way.





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The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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