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The dangers of using a computer


I have a Dell computer which i purchased last august. On wednesday it performed an update. At the end it turned off. When it turned on nothing happened and so i phoned dell and then had to go through a whole rigmarol . It looks like i have experienced a major failure and will need a new motherboard. Its possible i will need a new hard drive and that would mean losing my data.
Consequently i have lost all my passwords and it was difficult getting back my email address. So i think in future i shall a manual list of passwords and a list on a flashdrive.


Just use a password manager. Chrome does it for you, or you can find lots of others for free. I use Bitwarden.

Also: get an external hard drive amd back up often.


Its no good if your password manager is on the computer thats broken.


Don’t use one thats tied to a single piece of hardware, its not fit for purpose.


Last time I did a Windows update, after logging on my screen was blank for a good 10 mins or so, but it did come back eventually. Did you try waiting a long time?

It’s odd that you newish motherboard failed at the same time as a Windows update, and an extraordinary coincidence if you hard disk failed at the same time as your motherboard. I would guess your data will probably be OK - let’s hope


it wasnt a windows update it was a dell update.


still a software update, hopefully your hard drive is okay




+1 for password manager. You then just have a single pw to remember and maybe twofactor enabled if you deem it necessary.

Lastpass is good and I have used it for many years. If you lose a device the pws are encrypted and therefore safe. It is also device and ecosystem agnostic so it doesnt matter if you migrate to/from ios and android for your mobile and through macos and windows etc.

I would caution against putting pws (or any valued data) on a flash drive as they are not as stable as people often believe! 20% of flash drives will fail in a 4 year period. Sadly the same applies to hard-drives. The only alternatives are regular to backup to an on-site NAS or cloud storage. If you have an Office 365 subscription or Google account there is a fair amount of free space included.

Flash was designed to quickly move data from computer to computer and has never really held out as a long-time storage solution.


I have never trusted my ipad with storage of important information. It is all written down in my diary which I carry everywhere.


A very able technician visited my home at 5pm and installed a new motherboard and i am back to normal. Thanks for the helpful messages.


Dell get a lot of flak but in my experience they are excellent when the tech fails. Glad you’re sorted!


Glad to hear that you are back up and running.

Maybe it’s worth pointing out that system firmware updates are different from software updates. System firmware updates often involve reflashing the UEFI, the firmware which is responsible for booting your computer. The screen often does go blank whilst this takes place. NEVER switch off during this process - it can be unrecoverable if you do. Software updates are almost always recoverable, though I still wouldn’t advise switching off manually.

An exception would be the Microsoft Surface range, where any system firmware updates can arrive with software updates. And I guess Apple machines, though I haven’t owned one of those recently so it may be different.


My Dell running Windows 10 came with a small free of charge allocation on Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud backup. I try to remember to copy more important files to it whenever they are updated. It also has the advantage that it can be logged into from other PCs/laptops.


I have had further problems trying activate windows, The activication code are injected into he motherboard . Dell technical support-which i think is a call centre in india have been in contact with me all morning, Fortunately after a lot of work taking controle of my computer remotely they have managed to solve the problem…


Personally I would never trust my backups to the cloud. There are a number of reasons, including:

  • Why would I trust all my precious data to someone else’s computer?
  • If it’s on the internet it can be hacked. Never believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

External hard drives are very cheap nowadays. I have several that I run rotating backup on. The oldest backup is generally a month or two old, meaning if necessary I can go back to older versions if I have accidentally lost some data and that loss has been backed up.

Call me paranoid but I’m never going to trust any of my data, ebook/music/video purchases etc. to be held safe on other peoples’ computers.


Same here, and you’ve also reminded me that I haven’t backed anything up for several months now. Maybe a job for this evening…


External hard drives are fine. But you do keep them offsite, don’t you? Otherwise the drive could be nicked, or destroyed by fire, at the same time as your computer.

Nothing is 100% safe, but cloud backup is IMO best. You could encrypt important files, and use multiple backup sites, for extra secutity.


Why would I trust all my precious data to someone else’s computer?

Someone else’s computer is safer because it is stored in a RAID or equivalent structure. This means that if your hard drive fails, which they often do, then the data is also on another drive so will be preserved. A new drive will swing into action and the safety is ensured. Similarly multiple data centre sites mean that if one goes up in a fire, then another also has the data in deepstore.

In short, because people whose job it is to look after data are much better equipped and prepared than you or I can be.

If it’s on the internet it can be hacked. Never believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

Is your computer able to access the internet? If it is then congratulations, it’s on the internet! You can be hacked too! Individuals are frequently the targets of phishing and hack attempts which when successful open the entire contents of their connected lives (phones, smart gadgets, as well as data) to the hacker.

A question which is valuable to ask yourself however is: do I actually own much material which would really be of value to someone trying to hack me? Unless you are a public figure with compromising photos or documents, your holiday snaps really aren’t that useful to your average hacker! This means the worst you can expect is probably someone opportunistically trying to wreak havoc in an attempt to extort some cash out of you, these are usually pretty infantile attacks and easily headed off by folks using twofactor on important accounts.


Yes, a friend and I swap them! :smiley: And a member of staff keeps our business backups at her place.