If you’ve been working with a personal computer for any length of time in your home or office, (and I think it’s safe to say most everyone has at least some experience in this regard) or even if you’ve just heard other people talking about them, you may have heard them use the term “meltdown” at some point. It’s kind of a catch-all phrase for when the darn thing stops working right in the middle of some important work you are trying to complete, or when it simply won’t start at all. If you’ve ever lost important data or media files you’ve been storing on a desktop computer, this can be enormously frustrating, and most often, it motivates us to begin a regimen of making backup file storage of one sort or another. There are all sorts of ways to accomplish this, with a variety of “cloud storage” options, as well as data storage on discs and thumb-drives, or even just a portable hard drive that you keep in a separate location. In one particular case recently, I received a request from friends of mine to help with a computer meltdown of a very different sort.
Imagine being awakened in the middle of the night by a fireman standing in your bedroom telling you that your house is on fire. Just the thought of it gives me the shakes, but it happened to my friends a few weeks ago. Everyone is fine and there were no injuries, and the story seems to be unfolding toward recovery well enough. There was insurance on the house and its contents and they are safely moved in to a rental house nearby, and are receiving assistance from family and friends. They were very lucky in important ways.
When I offered my help, it began with clothing and groceries and the comforting of friends, but a few days ago, they asked if I thought I might be able to recover the data off their desktop computer. It had been sitting on a desk in the living room, and was exposed to what the firemen described as “about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit” temperatures at the height of the fire. I was skeptical from their description of the condition of the computer, but agreed to give it a try anyway.
When I finally got a look at the inside of the scorched electric panels and melted plastic pieces and roasted transistors, I was even less optimistic that anything might still be retrievable from the meltdown, but I pulled the hard drive out and installed it in an old desktop in my family room and to my surprise, it booted up and revealed that all of the contents were still quite intact!
The “brains” of the computer were fried beyond recovery, and my hands were filthy after poking around inside the blackened innards of the fried computer, but the smile on the faces of my friends….that was priceless!