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Get a handful of tips that can save you a lot of frustration if your hard drive dies.
Watch today at 5 p.m. and tomorrow at 3 a.m., 2 p.m. Eastern.

By John Christopher
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Whether you're ready to face it or not, the day will come when your hard drive will simply give up the ghost. Today Kelly Cheesen, a data crisis counselor, and I will share these tips that can help prevent the loss of your precious data.

Print this. We suggest you keep a printed version of the tips you'll need handy. The day your drive dies you probably won't have access to the Internet to look at these.

Back up, back up, back up. OK. There we said it. If you value your data, take the time to back up your critical files. Do it right now, because Murphy's Law -- Anything that can go wrong, will -- rings doubly true when it comes to computers.

Don't ignore warning signs. If your hard drive emits unusual noises (clicking, grinding or metal scraping), turn it off immediately. This symptom typically indicates a head crash that can destroy your data. Hard drives spin fast, at 7,200 to 15,000 revolutions per minute. Extensive damage can occur quickly. If you don't have a backup and need to recover data, you should contact a professional data recovery service like mine, DriveSavers, and immediately, as this situation demands work in a clean room environment.

Here are some .wav files of noises to be wary of.

[Bad Bearings] [Cycle Click] [Excessive Clicks] [Grind] [Raygun Sound]

Use utilities wisely. Disk utilities can provide excellent preventative maintenance by fixing directory corruption problems. But they can also render data unrecoverable in the event of extreme corruption. Always save an "undo" file (a record of the changes the utility has made to your drive) in the event that it does not correct your problem. Symantec's Norton Utilities software in the Mac or PC flavor is capable of creating an undo file that you can save to a floppy disk.

If your drive turns to dust, here are some tips for recovering lost data.,24330,3360413,00.html
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