Backup and Recovery

Best backup practices and recovering lost data.

My laptop was stolen, what do I do?

Episode 1531

Jeff from Costa Mesa, CA

Jeff is worried about whether his personal data has been compromised after his Mac was stolen. Apple says not to worry about it. Leo says that if you turned on file vault, then you'd be OK. But if you didn't, then they can hack into your Find My iMac account to find out where you live. Leo recommends clearing out your FindMyIMac searches, and block anyone who may have gotten into it. More likely, they just tried to sell it or pawned it. Apple may be able to remote wipe or brick it. But you don't want to try and go get it. That would be dangerous. Turn over the data to the police.

How can I recover my Windows 10 password?

Windows 10

Episode 1521

John from Dana Point, CA

John has a Lenovo X5 and he put a special PIN code password into his computer. Now it won't accept the code because of the special characters he used. It also won't accept his fingerprint ID. Leo says that there should be an option to recover his account with his Microsoft ID. He should go to another computer and sign onto his Microsoft account to make sure it's working and valid. He can reset it with a new login, just in case. Then he should see if the recovery option appears.

Can I upgrade my iMac?

Apple iMac

Episode 1511

Carlin from Redondo Beach, CA

Carlin has an iMac that's about 6 years old and it's getting slower and slower. She brought it into a technician, who said it was too old to get parts for it. Leo says that's not really accurate. It's always best to take the iMac into the Apple Store when it needs repair or upgrading, and it can be upgraded.

How can I securely wipe my hard drive?

Hard drive

Episode 1510

Andrew from Los Angeles, CA

Andrew misses FDisk in MSDOS. He liked typing from the command line. Leo says that FDisk still exists in Windows, and when he deletes a partition with it, the data isn't lost, it just loses the structure of partition information. If he wants to erase all the data, Leo recommends Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN). It erases the data, overwrites the hard drive, erases it and overwrites it again. Seven times. So there's no way the data can be recovered.

Why can't I backup with the software I want?

Microsoft OneDrive

Episode 1509

Paula from Studio City, CA

Paula was trying to backup her desktop with Carbonite, and now she's finding that Dell and Microsoft OneDrive are overlaying their own versions of backup, fighting for her attention. How can she disable those? Leo says she can disable Dell Backup in the system tray. That's pretty simple. But it will probably restart when she turns the computer back on. So she'll have to remove it from the startup options. Leo says having both local and off site backup is a wise idea. She'll want three copies of everything at all times. As for OneDrive, it's very good, but she'll have to pay for it.

Why do I have to reauthorize my Synology backup with Time Machine?

Synology DiskStation DS216

Episode 1508

Tim from Franklin, OH

Tim uses Time Machine for his backup, but the backup fails intermittently. His Synology NAS is citing improper credentials as the cause. Leo says that encryption certificates need to be renewed from time to time, and if he's encrypting his data on backup, that could be the issue.

There is a post on Synology forums about this: Time Machine, Making it Work. Learn from my Suffering. There are some steps that can help.

Why am I backing up two copies of everything?

Second Copy

Episode 1508

Paul from Columbus, OH

Paul had a Dell XPS computer, then he got an iMac running Boot Camp. He hasn't been backing up since December. He changed the file structure when he moved to the new computer, and now his backups are duplicates instead of a select backup folder. Leo says he can tell his operating system where his home folder is in the partition. Once he's done that, he can delete the duplicates.

Should I reformat my hard drive to speed it up?

Apple iMacs

Episode 1493

Dana from Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

Dana wants to know if he should reformat his iMac hard drive to make it run faster. Leo says often that's the best thing to do. Since Dave has a bootable image from Super Duper, he can do it and be back up in minutes. He should just boot from the image, then copy the image to his hard drive and he'll be back up. Sometimes it just takes a little spring cleaning. Better yet — he can get an SSD and use the hard drive as his data drive. His computer will be a lot faster with that.