This clip from Sex in the City is probably the best way to describe the lesson - it's about 3 minutes, but worth it.
In short: back up your files on your computer. I'm serious. I don't care how you do it, just please have a back up.
And don't say It won't happen to me. I am too careful about what I do. Because it will. And I was, too.
I had a nasty virus on my computer that tried to eat it alive last night. I'll try to make a really long story medium-length. For someone like me who is normally pretty careful about installing (or rather not installing) things that are unfamiliar, having this virus was a) unexpected and b) unpleasant. Really - mom gets annoyed at me sometimes because I don't open most of the email forward she sends me. (love you mom!)
When I restarted my computer after installing some normal updates (java, firefox, etc...), it kept telling me that I had viruses, threats, security breaches, etc... it was coming from pop-ups, my alert center, etc. At first, it looked like it could be legitimate because it was a virus through a fake version of AVG Spyware 2011. AVG is something legitimate that I have downloaded on my computer as a spyware program - and it was a pretty good fake. What didn't look legitimate was that the pop-ups told me that I have to pay $27.99 to download the upgrade to AVG 2011 in order to run it. Fortunately, I know to know that's not real, or safe, to have my only option to get back into my computer to be to pay $27.99 (unless it's the Best Buy Geek Squad telling me that's what it costs to fix it).
I couldn't do anything. I couldn't get on the internet to google the problem (on firefox, internet explorer, or google chrome). I couldn't access my files. I couldn't run my actual spyware program. I couldn't do anything. Thankfully, we have 4 computers in the house at any given time, so I was able to use a different one to google the problem, download an anti-malware program, burn it to a disk, and put the disk in my computer. From there, I was able to run the scan.
Virus scans take a long time. I had it in my mind that I wouldn't go to sleep until I had it fixed, but after it scanned for an hour, and it was well after midnight, I fell asleep. In the morning, I woke up, the scan was done and there were 5 viruses/threats that it was able to get rid of. Good enough. And I was off to work.
It wasn't until I came home tonight that I had a chance to check out the damage. And at first look I could see my internet (including my bookmarks and history)was working fine, my programs appeared to be there, and it was running pretty well, which was a relief. That being said, the fact that all of my some of my folders on my hard drive and a ton of my files (read: all of my pictures [important] and some other stuff [moderately to not important]) were gone. Awesome.
Upon further look, I found about 800 files in my recycle bin - oh good! I can restore them!
Nope. The folders they belonged in were gone. They had no place to be restored to. Awesomer.
Special thanks to Jim for giving me the idea to look in a windows restore area that has previous versions of the hard drive saved. Jackpot! and Awesome. For real.
When I tried to copy folders back over, it said they already existed, but they didn't show up. Try again. Still claims the folders exist already. Sigh...
Then we figured out how to 'unhide' folders and voila! It was back! As I type, things are loading back up, and everything is back.
You may be wondering at this point why, if I was able to restore everything on my computer without going to my backup, why I'm getting on my back up your darn files soap box. Because what if they weren't there? What if it had crashed completely.
Take a moment and think about the feeling you would have if you lost all of the files on your computer. Everything.
Now think about the feeling that you would have if that happened, but it was OK because you had them saved someplace else.
Quite a difference, huh? We're pretty reliant on technology and, if you're like me, have a lot of your important stuff on your computer. All I know is that I can tell you that I was pretty relaxed about this whole situation because I had my important stuff backed up. And that, my friends, is worth more to me than 100 x the cost of the backup system and time it takes to do it occassionally.
Have you had experience with a nasty virus? Were your files backed up?