Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management. Follow him on Google+. He publishes on and aNewDomain and volunteers with the Alexandria Film Festival. He is also on Linkedin. To subscribe to emailed updates about additions to this web site click here.


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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