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
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
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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.
… you should simply never use it.”
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