Nemo Memo
Windows Is Still Better Than Mac, Right?

Mora Black’s reliable, mission-critical Windows laptop crashed, and she lost all her data. She is self-employed, so she was devastated, not having backed up her drive.

Local tech support in Albuquerque (not the end of the world) took several hundred dollars of her hard-earned cash, with no positive results whatsoever. Mora mentioned this in passing, as part of an email message asking for a copy of a contract I had downloaded months ago from her web site.

I directed her to DriveSavers, the premier data recovery service. You can learn about this California company here and in a recent New York Times feature. Make sure you read the conclusion of this article, where DriveSavers’ founder admits to never backing up his own computers. No comment.

Then Mora continued her saga, via email:

* * * * *

Bought new computer. Spent HOURS and HOURS installing all of my programs. Went to bed at about 11:30pm and clicked “shut down.”

Got up in the morning to computer at blue screen saying “preparing to shut down.”

Had to turn it off with OFF button.

Spent day trying to get “standby” and/or “shutdown” to work. Gave up. Went online to Digital Lifeline and was told the computer was bad, but it was past the return date. I called the sales person and was told I could exchange it anyway.

I spent a day uninstalling all programs, favorites, etc.

Returned the computer and took home a new one.

It performed “shutdown” and “standby” perfectly.

I spent the day installing all of my programs.

Clicked “shutdown,” and it wouldn’t do it!!!!!!!###%%%%!!!!@@@@****

I uninstalled one program at a time and tried to perform “shutdown” after it was off the machine.

I spent all day and 1/2 the night doing this to determine which program was causing the problem.

(Mind, it took this long, because this computer was sooooooooooooooo slow in doing anything once a program was installed.)

When the last program was off, it then performed both tasks perfectly!

I looked at the front of the machine asking WHY!!!!????? And noticed it say 256MB!!!!####@@@@%%%%****!!!

I had no idea they still made computers so slow and never looked at this when I bought it.

I bought some high-powered 512MB memory, installed it, loaded all programs, and it works GREAT!!!!!

STOP LAUGHING, JOHN! I was almost driven to drink!

* * * * *

What conclusions can we derive from Mora Black’s black hole of disaster and frustration?

Macintosh computers are sold with insufficient built-in memory, but at least they perform without catastrophic results, although often too slowly. Apple retail and online memory purchases are overpriced, but of high quality. Naive buyers are not aware that extra memory is affordable and essential for optimum usage, and that information is readily available. Are Windozers so “lucky?”

Why does anybody choose a Windows computer when a Mac is available? People need compatibility at work, school, home, and with existing software; they stick with what they know; they think they are saving money; plus a dozen other valid reasons.

I am not a Winbasher. Working with clients back and forth on Mac and Windows day after day, I respect both platforms for their strengths, and learn to live with their weaknesses. Routine digital photography, Internet, iTunes, email, and quite a bit more is essentially identical from one OS to the other. Windows has a couple of features that I consider to be superior to their Mac counterparts, and Macintosh has dozens that I know to be champs. The world is round, life is short, and we all need more friends than enemies.

Why people don’t archive or backup their precious data is a fact I wrestle with frequently, and I take no prisoners on this subject. You either set up and maintain a consistent backup/archive procedure or you don’t retain the services of “John Nemo — Computer Tutor.”

I fault both Microsoft and Apple for making backing up large quantities of data way too cumbersome, but at least Apple gets you to first base with their .Mac subscription service Backup utility. I don’t have enough experience using Windows to comment, except for the third-party option, which does the trick nicely. This is what I advised Mora Black to investigate and implement.

Once your hard drive is hosed, proprietary Mac utilities can retrieve your data, most of the time. I have no similar confidence with Windows, but again my familiarity is limited.

For a small number of hundreds of dollars, every computer user should:

buy and install enough RAM to run their most demanding applications all at once

get religious about archiving and/or backing up their personal data, at the very least

make contact with a professional tutor, troubleshooter, or user group for training, plus support when needed.

I’m away from home, on vacation in California. I keep local external FireWire drive archives of my active iBook files, as they are created. Back in Tucson, I have multiple redundant clones of all three computers, and I brought a full set with me to San Francisco.

During the past ten years, I lost one primary computer drive and one crucial Zip drive — the former (which was restored by a certified Apple technician) due to a hardware malfunction and the latter (which was lost forever) due to my stupidity. Life goes on, and I’m wiser for those bumps in the road.

If you’re still using Windows without any strong rationality for continuing to do so, consider switching to Macintosh. If you need a bunch of rock-solid reasons, post your questions below or send me a personal email message.

You Macpersons and Windozers who have insufficient RAM in your computers and/or don’t archive or backup your data, please remedy the situation immediately, so you don’t have a meltdown like Mora Black did.

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