I admit I never saw it coming. My desktop (a Dell Inspiron, 300 GB with Intel Pentium chip) had been fine the day before - no problems. Then yesterday morning the first ominous sign as I switched it on, seeing a totally blank screen. The LCD monitor wasn't the problem as it worked fine with my old Windows 98 (accessed instantly using a dual switching device). Worse, the newer Dell computer (which my wife got me six years ago as a Xmas gift) made NO sound whatsoever.
Multiple checks ultimately led us (wifey is a computer guru - who once worked for a major radiotherapy corporation as a trouble shooter for software, hardware) to conclude a dead hard drive (and dead fan!). Kaput, as in put a fork in it. The whole computer now lies wide open on my desk - all the innards exposed - after wifey did multiple internal checks on the electronics. We will leave it open until the hard drive is removed - which still contains multiple tax, personal account info files. We will keep until its ultimate destruction (by us) can be assured, then transport the 'husk' to an electronic waste site.
Fortunately, I had been backing up key files for a few days before the unthinkable happened, including: hundreds of MB of academic research papers, university lectures, WORD versions of previous editions of my 5 most recent books, and whole photo albums of recent vacations (including the latest in Switzerland) as well as copies of tax documents and personal account summaries.
Unfortunately, I never got to backing up a whole folder of family photos - most dating back to the 1950s and early 1960s. This means many will have to be re-scanned and others collected as best I can from family, FB sites etc. It is painful, believe me, to see such loss - but I ought to have been more timely in doing the key backups and not procrastinated.
Let my experience be a timely warning to all of those with computers, of whatever make. The time you take now to do your due diligence backing up (using assorted USB drives) will pay huge dividends later.
Don't take for granted that because your computer is working fine today, it will be doing so tomorrow and you can postpone backing up the hundreds of MB of files you may consider as too important to lose!
Because you will, if you're too cavalier, like I was in respect to those family photos!