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    July 15th, 2008

      We can break the cycle – We can break the chain
    We can start all over – In the new beginning
    …And start all over…♫

    Words and music by Tracy Chapman.

    I get calls all the time from lawyers whose computers have slowed to a crawl.  What was once a zippy new computer starts to act like it is mired in concrete.  Chances are, your once-zippy computer has been infected by something that your current security software is powerless to stop.  And while you could try to clean the machine, it is probably faster (*and easier*) to simply reformat the hard drive and start all over. So how do you do this?

    First: back up your data. Purchase an external hard drive and copy all the data over to this external drive.  Be sure to copy over any photos, browser favourites and all documents that you don’t want to lose!

    Second: make a list of all the applications you have on the computer.  Start with “My Programs” but scour all the folders to ensure that you make an accurate list of the software that you will need to reinstall.

    Third: ensure that you have the installation disks for all the applications *including the operating system* (or know how to download them)  together with the requisite software keys and/or user names and passwords necessary to reinstall and use them on the newly cleaned computer.  You don’t want to find out that you can’t find or recall these after the computer has been cleaned!

    Fourth: copy necessary drivers for your scanner, printer etc to a flash drive.  These are sometimes hard to find on the Web.

    Fifth: take a deep breath and reinitialize the hard drive (commonly called reformatting).  Reinitializing the drive writes zeros to every addressable location (called zero-filling) and identifies any bad sectors on the drive so they are not used.

    Sixth: install the operating system and your security software – firewall, anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware  – and ensure that it updates and installs the latest signatures and that the operating system checks for all updates and patches. This may take a while and may necessitate one or more reboots of the computer.

    Seventh:  install all your applications and drivers.  Check for the latest updates and patches to these applications.

    Eighth: run a security scan on the external hard drive on which you copied your documents, photos etc and once it is found to be ‘clean’, copy over your documents, photos etc to the newly cleaned computer.

    Ninth: institute a regular backup procedure, so that your data is not just sitting in one place, vulnerable to a hard-drive crash or virus attack.

    By taking these steps (as onerous as they are) you can break the chain and start all over with a new beginning.

    This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 15th, 2008 at 10:48 pm and is filed under Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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