Brain Dead In San Diego

By Art Gresham, Editor, Under the Computer Hood User Group, CA
May 2019 issue, Drive Light
1editor101 (at)

Sunday, March 31st, was “World Back Up Day.” Even if you don’t do a complete system backup, please back up your important documents (i.e.- photos, videos, office docs, PDF files and any other files you deem important to you) to a USB drive, CD/DVD, external HD or the Cloud. Take the pledge and spread the word.


“I solemnly swear to back up my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.” I will also tell my friends and family about World Backup Day –
friends don’t let friends go without a backup.

Did you read the World Backup Day information in UCHUG’s March newsletter? The editor sure did. He (by which I mean I) put it there. So for the 64-cent question. Did I do a backup? No. Bad on me I guess. But no harm done. Right? Not so fast there buck’o.

As I started building the current newsletter (and following the scare raised by the Email issue our President reported this month) I was looking at the screen when it began having very weird patterns of color flashing over the entire screen. Quick as a wink I thought I should get a photo of it in case it turns in to something. Fishing my cell phone out of my pocket, and looking up, suddenly the color patches were gone. Back to normal screen. Strange but oh well. Grab the mouse and go back to work……work… come on mouse WORK. Nope. No Work. No keyboard, No mouse, no Nuttin.

Power off, by brute force (power strip) and back on. Nothing. Not even the familiar Beep Beep, and CMOS screen. Nothing. Cycle power and try again. Nothing. Deep breathing. Go practice some Yoga. Or VooDoo. Calmly go to bed and hope it heals itself over night. Hey, it’s been known to happen.

So now it’s the next morning. Power on. YEAAAA, it boots like normal; everything is well again…… for about two minutes then…. Color patches. Frozen mouse and Keyboard. Dead.

So now I need a spare computer to use and try to get back on track. Perhaps the hard drive is still intact. I calmly disconnected the machine – a Gateway brand. Fortunately I have my older generation computer, a Dell, still sitting beside my working system (which is no longer working). The Dell boots up right where it left off last October when last it was powered up. A starting point. Pull it out and remove the Gateway hard drive and place it in the Dell. They are similar 1 TB drives so no real compatibility issues. I expect it will work, with just slight performance reduction because of a slower CPU.

At this point many, or most, of you are saying. Wait. You can’t just swap a hard drive into a completely different CPU box. The operating system will complain and you will have to go through a bunch of fixes to get it to recognize all the different hardware. Wrong. You must think I am using some proprietary operating system like Windoze 7 or 8 or 9 or 10!!? Nope. Both systems were running Linux, Mint 17 and 18. More significantly, upon taking my up-to-date system hard drive, putting it into the older CPU box, and giving it power — it instantly recognizes everything, mouse, keyboard, internet connection. Boots up to exactly where I left it on the broken machine yesterday morning. I have lost nothing much more than time and some worry. Of course the operations are slightly slower. But much faster than DEAD.

So at this point you may think I resumed building the Drive Light. You would be wrong. The first thing I did was to start a backup And there is the moral of the story. Back up, Back up, Back up! You never know when the computer will die and you may not be so lucky as to be able to perform a ‘brain-ectomy’ to bring your data back to life. Moving on now. Got a newsletter to put together.