Q: I noticed that some pictures are missing from my Windows 7 PC. I’d like to see if they’ve been saved in my several years’ worth of “system image backups,” which duplicate everything on my PC to an external hard drive.
But I see it’s not that easy. The backups don’t seem to identify the individual files they contain, so I can’t be sure the pictures I need are there. In addition, using one of these backups would restore my entire PC to the way it was, say, two years ago. This seems both tedious and dangerous. Is there an easier way to recover my pictures?
Larry Snow, Eden Prairie
A: There is an easier way to find the photos. But first, why is it so hard to recover a few backed-up files? Because system image backups were never intended to serve as backups for individual files. They were meant to restore your entire hard disk at once in the event a major catastrophe, such as an abrupt hard drive failure. So, retrieving individual data files from them requires some extra work (for step-by-step instructions, see tinyurl.com/y6lpjynq or tinyurl.com/y365mnge).
The first step is to make the contents of a system image backup readable on your PC. Backups are often broken up into portions (called partitions), and you’ll need to determine (via educated guess) which partition contains your photos. Once you zero in on the right partition, you can use some technical sleight-of-hand to make the partition behave as if it were an external disk drive.
Your PC can then use Windows Explorer to examine individual files in the partition. After you locate the pictures files you want, you can copy and paste them to your PC’s hard drive.
If you’re lucky, the photos will be present in your most recent system image backup. If you’re not so lucky, the photos may have been gone from your PC for quite a while, requiring you to look through older and older backups in order to find them.
My column about iPhones that are old but not obsolete (see tinyurl.com/yygcl5ld) prompted an interesting reply from Eugene Elvecrog of Eden Prairie. Verizon Wireless, he points out, won’t allow iPhones older than the iPhone 6 on its newer and faster 5G wireless network.
Verizon Wireless says that’s because pre-iPhone 6 models lack a feature called VoLTECQ (Voice over LTE, with LTE being a nickname for the current 4G wireless networks.) As a result, the company is declining to activate new accounts for older iPhones and says existing older phones won’t work on its network beginning in January (see tinyurl.com/y4vya8fk and tinyurl.com/y48aof6m). No word yet on what happens to existing customers with older phones.
So, does that mean older iPhones are obsolete? Not necessarily, because no other wireless networks are banning older iPhones, even though all are pursuing 5G networks. Some technical experts believe 5G will take a long time to roll out and older phones will remain in use for years (see tinyurl.com/yy6sxuwo.)
But Verizon Wireless customers with older iPhones have to decide whether to upgrade to a newer phone or move to another wireless carrier. Sprint is the easiest option because it uses the same underlying technology.
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