Well, now, I suppose every one thinks about this now and then, but how many are ready when the hard drive fails, and the only possible recovery method is reformatting?
I just experienced this adventure, now a memory in the very close past (finished recovery about an hour ago).
I bring the matter up here to remind every one: BE PREPARED!!!!!
It WILL eventually happen. So keep copies, backups, images etc, so that when it happens, you will not lose your data. You may have to re-install and configure your software, but the main thing, you don't want to lost 20 or more years of work!!!
Redunancy is the key to safety!! My Norton Ghost failed because the computer was troublesome when I made it, and Norton apparently was not correctly installed. But my redunancy paid off, and not a single midi file or Sibelius file was lost. No data loss except some WAV files that I had planned to trash and remake.
REDUNDANCY OF BACKUP IS CRITICAL.
Final thought: Keep a copy of all your software serial number, software keys, etc that are needed for installation. I keep mine in a wordpad text file (rtf), keep a copy of it on a separate device or drive. Also keep all my various passwords in the file. Saved my ... these past two days. Not much benefit to having Sonar, Nero, whatever, if you can't install them! So: BE PREPARED.
There are 2 programs that I totally rely on for backups and recovery.
1. PowerQuest Drive Image 7 - After a fresh XP install, I do a windows update and all the possible tweaks for an audio PC. Update all the hardware drivers (soundcard, midi interface, etc...) and do a backup/image of the drive. I then go ahead and install all my programs. Update them and play around with it for a couple of days til i'm sure everything is running fine and stable. I then make another backup/image of the drive. I do this both to DVD medium and a separate recovery hard drive in my PC. I then test both backup/image files by going back to the first one then the succeeding one. If stability is compromised by a brand new install or update, I can always go back to its previous working state without any hassles. BTW, when I first do the backup/image of a fresh XP install, I save the "wpa.dbl" file found in your Windows/system32 directory to floppy or USB Jump Drive. The "wpa.dbl" file holds the hardware configuration information and activation state of the current Windows XP installation. It can be backed up to permit activation if you reload Windows XP.
2. Runtime Software's GetDataBack for NTFS - This awesome recovery program has saved me a lot of times trying to recover important files from a soon-to-be-dead hard drives. It works great on external firewire or USB2 hard drives as long as the drive is still spinning, it'll recover all your files for you. More info can be found HERE .
I totally agree with the post above. Backup is very important. Don't contend yourself to one medium, I usually do several backups to external hard drives, CD and DVD. I also save serial numbers/software keys to pdf file and save either to floppy or USB jump drives. Saves a lot of time and you won't have to scrounge around looking for it in its boxes.