Q: My PC's SSD (solid-state drive, memory chips that replace a hard drive) has been scrambled. That means I'll have to erase it and reload Windows 7, my programs and my 900 gigabytes of data – a time-consuming process.
I'd like to avoid doing this again if I have another SSD failure. Is there an easy way to regularly back up my entire SSD – not just my data files – to my 6-terabyte external hard drive?
Allan Davidson, Colorado Springs, Colo.
A: Yes, you can do what's called a "system image" backup. It will copy everything from your PC's solid-state drive – the operating system, data, programs and settings – and put them into a single large backup file that can be stored on your external hard drive. If your SSD data becomes corrupted again, you can restore its contents from the most recent backup file.
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Although system image backups were originally designed to copy the contents of a hard drive, (a rapidly spinning magnetic disk), they work the same way with SSDs (made up of flash memory chips.) You can even use the same software to make the backups. For lists of such programs, see tinyurl.com/y77ngbwf or tinyurl.com/p4zkx2j (scroll to option three).
How often you should make backups is a matter of judgment. But because you have a high-capacity, 6-terabyte (equals 6,144 gigabytes) external hard drive, you can easily make several system image backups over time without running out of storage. The data in a system image backup is digitally compressed, so it should take up about 30 percent less space on the external hard drive than it did on the SSD.
Cold weather tip: If you use a smartphone in cold weather, remember the lithium-ion batteries inside them start to lose their ability to produce electric current at below-freezing temperatures. That can cause the phone to shut off for lack of power, even if its battery is fully charged. My iPhone 7 shut off after 15 minutes of exposure to outdoor temperatures of about 10 degrees. When the phone was revived indoors, its battery was still charged to 73 percent of capacity.
Q: The iTunes program I've been using since 2012 will no longer properly print song playlists for CD case inserts, or burn playlists to CDs. Instead it prints or burns a different playlist than the one I selected. What can I do?
Don Ingalls, Hooksett, N.H.
A: If you haven't updated iTunes since 2012, the problem may be that it no longer works with the Windows updates you've received over the last five years. You can download the latest version of iTunes at tinyurl.com/bux3blh (to find out whether you need the 32-bit or 64-bit version, go to your PC's Control Panel, click the "system" icon and see "system type.")
If you already have the newest version of iTunes, the problem may be caused by a software flaw that only Apple can fix. But try this workaround: Don't use the "file" menu to burn a playlist to a CD. Instead, highlight the playlist, then right-click it. From the resulting menu, select "burn playlist to disk." To print a playlist for a plastic CD case (or "jewel case"), first highlight the playlist, then go to "file" and click "print." Then select "CD jewel case insert" and click "OK."
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Steve Alexander covers technology for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Readers may write to him at Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55488-0002; email: email@example.com. Please include a full name, city and phone number.