Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Many manufacturers create a recovery drive or partition on your hard disk. Windows may warn you about low disk space on it. I'll look at wWhat to do?
I have HP vista pavilion, running home premium (about 6 months old). The computer displayed a low memory on drive "D" recovery. I stayed on the phone with a tech rep two hours trying to get this explained. Showed I had not done a "backup". Of all the computers I have used I have never received this notification. The tech set my computer to do backup every month. Is this a "must"? Was instructed to insert a disc every first of the month. What is the purpose of doing this and is it necessary? As to the disk, what kind should I use?
There are several misunderstandings in this question, and it sounds like the support technician certainly didn't help. But the misunderstandings are so common that I really wanted to take an opportunity to clear them up if I can.
First, a disk drive does not run low on memory, it runs out of space. Yes, while disks can be used to "remember" things - a kind of memory I suppose - when applied to computers the term memory specifically refers to the RAM memory installed in your computer. Hard disks are something else entirely.
I know it sounds like I'm being very nit-picky, and I suppose I am. The problem is that particularly when it comes to computers, using the correct terminology is extremely important. For example, if you tell a technician that you think you're running out of memory when you really mean that you're running out of disk space then it's likely that you're not going to get the help you need to fix your problem.
Secondly, if drive "D" has been set up as a recovery drive (which is quite common these days), you should simply never use it. Period. You would use it only as part of actually performing a recovery.
Now, there may be some confusion since Windows may start warning you that the drive is close to full. Well, a recovery drive D will almost always be close to full, and that's ok. It has a bunch of recovery information on it and it doesn't need any more room because you should never use it for anything else. As long as you're not using it for anything else, you can simply ignore the low space warnings for a recovery drive.
The one caveat I'll throw out here is that if you are using your recovery drive for something, you may quickly run out of space on the drive and some programs may fail to work or complete their tasks properly. I have no way of knowing if that's the case on your system, but it's something to keep an eye on. If you experience failures in certain programs, make sure that they're not saving files to your recovery drive.
Lastly, I have no idea how or why backing up came into your conversation. Backing up isn't related to anything we've discussed so far.
That being said, the technician is correct: everyone should backup regularly, or you are at risk of losing all of the information on your computer. Occasionally things break, and when they break occasionally all the data on your computer will be lost. It really is that simple.
So yes, in my opinion, backing up is a must.
Backing up is more than just putting a disk in your computer once a month. It does require that you run backup software of some sort, and that the software is configured to properly copy the data you care about to some location that is not on your computer: a CD or DVD, an external hard drive, another computer that's on your local network, whatever works for you. Exactly what you'll need will depend on the kind of backup program you'd run and how much effort you want to put into it. I typically recommend getting an external hard drive and software that backs up automatically for you every night.
My previous article What backup program should I use? has more information on backing up.
My guess is that the technician mentioned backing up not as a solution to any problem you might be experiencing, but simply because it is important and could help you recover from more serious problems you might experience in the future.
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