My laptop died and was backed up online. Now what do I do?
December 16, 2014 6:54 AM   Subscribe

My laptop completely died and I backed it up automatically on Crashplan. I cannot get a new laptop. Where can I save all the data?

My 7 year old laptop recently stopped working. I use Crashplan to back up my home computers and the laptop had 158.2GB work of "stuff" on it according to Crashplan. It is too big to download online, so Crashplan will charge me a fee and send my information on CDs. My problem is that I cannot get a new laptop at this time. I do have a desktop, but its memory is far more limited. I do believe I can selectively download files/data. Unfortunately I am not very tech savvy so this feels overwhelming. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! What I am most concerned about recovering are my music files and photographs - both of which consume the most memory. Thank you very much!
posted by anya32 to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You need to decide which files you want to restore, then restore them. You might need to Google around to find out exactly where you expect to find those files. Have you seen this guide?
posted by devnull at 7:11 AM on December 16, 2014

Can you get an external hard drive that will connect to your desktop by USB and restore your files to that? It'll cost money, of course, but probably not much more than having Crashplan mail you disks.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:13 AM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here is a similar guide
posted by defcom1 at 7:13 AM on December 16, 2014

I do have a desktop, but its memory is far more limited.

1TB (i.e. 1000GB) USB hard drives don't cost much any more.
posted by flabdablet at 9:44 AM on December 16, 2014

Also, if you're like most people you'll probably have way, way less than 150GB of irreplaceable personal data in that backup set. Most of what takes up space on my own computers, for example, is movies and music that I could easily rip from the original discs again if necessary.
posted by flabdablet at 9:49 AM on December 16, 2014

First question; is the laptop hard drive dead, or just other stuff in the laptop? The simplest thing would be to pull the hard drive out of the laptop, put it in an adapter, and access it from the desktop machine. Any computer tech shop can do this for you in about 30 minutes of work, the adapter's about $40.

If the laptop drive itself is dead, then congratulations, you have a backup! Commend yourself for being forward thinking.

The challenge is of that 158 GB, you probably only actually need a few GB. You probably don't need the old installed programs, Windows system image, etc. But there's no easy way to only get at the files you want. Do you know where you tended to put all your stuff on your laptop? Your "My Documents" and "My Photos" and the like is a good place to start.

CrashPlan has a Web restore option which will let you selectively pull back files. It's limited to 500MB per restore set, but that should be sufficient to get essential word processor files and the like. If you know where all your important files are, that will probably be sufficient.

The next best option is to get an external hard drive for your desktop and do a full CrashPlan restore to that drive using CrashPlan installed on your desktop. Be sure you don't accidentally overwrite your desktop! 2.5" USB3 drives are the best bet right now; these Seagate drives are excellent. (Ignore the backup software that comes with it, stick with Crashplan.) 156 GB is a lot to download but not terrible. At a relatively slow US broadband speed of 6Mbps, that will take 58 hours. Might want to check your ISP doesn't have some data cap before starting that.

CrashPlan will also ship you a hard drive of your files for $165. In the US they suggest this for only backups of more than 300GB. Presumably that price includes the hard drive.

I would not take CDs/DVDs. It's going to be a big stack of discs.

CrashPlan should be able to help you through this. Their docs on restoring are a good place to start.
posted by Nelson at 9:58 AM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all - this is very helpful information and I was not even thinking about the old programs being included! I will read through all of this in more detail tonight and will post when I finish my restoration/decide what to do for future readers. Thank you again so much! You all rock!
posted by anya32 at 7:07 AM on December 17, 2014

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