Be Prepared

Save yourself pain and suffering when things go wrong by taking precautions while things are going right. We’ll talk about backups in another column, but you should do two things immediately.


Create Recovery Media

If your computer will start Windows, you will *probably* have access to built-in tools that can help you recover from problems. But if Windows won’t start, the only way you’re going to get to the tools is with an actual Windows installation disc or with a recovery drive that you’ve already created.

This is not a backup (which you should do often); it’s a toolkit to recover your computer from serious failures. Make your recovery drive when you first set up your computer. You don’t have to do that again until you complete a major Windows upgrade. (Did you upgrade your computer from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10? You need to create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive. Did you upgrade your Windows 10 to the latest version? You need to create a new Recovery Drive.)

In Windows 10:

  • Type recovery into the Search box.
  • Click on Create a recovery drive.
  • Answer Yes to any User Account Control prompts you might get.
  • The Recovery Media Creator opens, offering a brief explanation and a choice. Put a check in the box that says Back up system files to the recovery drive.
  • Put a flash drive into a USB port, and then click Next. (You will likely need either a 16 GB or 32 GB flash drive. The Recovery Media Center will tell you.)
  • You’ll see a warning that everything on the drive will be deleted, and it will be! So, make sure this drive has nothing on it you want to keep. If you have more than one external drive plugged in, make sure you’re selecting the one you want to use as a recovery drive. When you’re ready, click Next.
  • You’ll get another warning. When you’re ready, click Create.
  • This will take some time. When the drive is ready, you’ll be notified. Click on

Create a Recovery Drive

Safely remove the drive, label it, and store it someplace where you can get to it in an emergency. Helpful hint: If your computer is a laptop, take the recovery drive in the bag with you.

Are you still running Windows 8.1? Your instructions are here.

Windows 7 was different. You need a system repair disc. See this Microsoft article.


Keep track of your passwords

Every day someone tells me passwords are confusing. Every. Single. Day.

I already know that. That’s why I write them down. A friend put this sign on my Facebook page:

Short-term memory is terrible

That’s also why I write them down.

People. Please. Write down your passwords. Write down what each password is for. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen scraps of paper in a pile. Each scrap has a password on it, but no clue what the password is for.

There are plenty of programs and browser extensions and systems that will keep track of your passwords for you. Each of those has a learning curve. The easiest system I’ve found that does not involve learning anything new is a piece of paper and a pencil. You can get as fancy as you want. You can get as simple as you want, too. Try something like this:

Email Perfectst0rm Changed May 2015
Facebook IllNeverTell
WiFi My_Network Ph0neh0me2n1ght Home network
Bank Account 124586499064739 UnderTheMatre$$ Chequing

Password rules

Do you also want an app to manage your passwords? Each has its strengths and weaknesses; keep going until you find something you like. And while you’re experimenting — WRITE DOWN YOUR PASSWORDS. When you find a program, you like — WRITE DOWN YOUR PASSWORDS.

Here are some password management tools:

If you want a worksheet like the one above, you can download it here: Use the menu at the top of that window to print or download the worksheet.

How do you keep track of your passwords? If you have a system you like, please send email to and let me know if I can share it.


Do you need help with your computer? I’m here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to

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This column appeared on January 9, 2017