Dennis D. McDonald ( is an independent consultant located in Alexandria Virginia. His services and capabilities are described here. Application areas include project, program, and data management; market assessment, digital strategy, and program planning; change and content management; social media; and, technology adoption. Follow him on Google+. He also publishes on and aNewDomain.


By Dennis D. McDonald

I came downstairs to my basement office Monday morning and saw what a Windows user is most fearful of -- the Blue Screen of Death. Something had happened during the night to cause a massive failure on my Dell Latitude D505 laptop.

blue.jpgThe machine would not reboot. It would not find the hard drive. I tried my Dell utilities disc - no hard drive.  I tried networking from my ancient  backup laptop running Windows 2000 -- still nothing. And the constant clicking coming from the dead drive told me what I did not want to hear -- there appeared to be a mechanical problem.

I called Dell -- I have Gold service. We went through my litany of problems. They basically said the drive is toast.  So Dell sent a replacement drive, which arrived next day that I quickly installed.

Meanwhile I needed access to various networked systems for my work and I was able to use my old laptop temporarily while I reinstalled everything (!) starting with Windows XP.  This process along with reconfiguring various network and device connections lasted on and off through Thursday night.

I do keep regular backups of many files (but not applications) on a small hard drive connected via a USB port so I was not totally fried.

But all my iTunes music -- and all of the manually entered Classical music indexing data I had created -- was gone. Fortunately I still have the original CD's so I have the basics.

But the albums and cuts I had bought from the iTunes store were also gone.  I figured since I had proof of purchase I could re-download.

No dice. iTunes is very specific -- you need to keep backups  and are out of luck if you experience a failure like mine.

A couple of the cuts I downloaded (from Gloria Estefan's "Mi Tierra" album)  I did burn to a cd so I will experiment with reloading. We'll see what happens, given the file protections that are built into the Apple service.

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