Howard from Des Moines is struggling with restoring his backup.  He writes “I have backed up my files onto an external hard drive 50g seagate, and my computer crashed. Also backed up on a flash drive. I have a newer computer & tried to down load my files and pictures but the format is different & am unable read them. is there any way I can recover them. I am sure there is a lot of other people having the same problem.”

Hi, Howard.

I would like to ask for some clarification and offer some suggestions.  If my suggestions don’t help, you can post any clarifying information in the comments, and I’ll do my best to help you further.

So the clarification that I need is this… when you say that your newer computer isn’t reading them, do you mean that it won’t restore the backup, or that it won’t read the pictures?

There are a couple of reasons that I can think of for your computer not to be able to restore a backup.  One is if you switched from a PC to a Mac, or a Mac to a PC.

Sorry, couldn’t resist a little blast from the past there.  Switching from one OS to the other can cause this kind of issue.  If this is the case, I would recommend doing a Google search for “restore Mac backup to PC” or vice-versa, depending on which way you went.

The next problem that I can think of is if you used a third-party backup software (such as Seagate’s backup) to make your backup and now you’re trying to restore it using the Windows Backup and Restore feature.  If this is the case, I would recommend downloading the third-party software to your new machine and running it.  Seagate’s backup dashboard, for example, can be found here:

The other problem that I can think of is that your external hard drive may have failed.

It would be unusual for both your external hard drive and your thumb drive to have failed at the same time, but not impossible.  For instance, the other day, both my television and my home theater failed on the same day.  You can tell that this is the case if your computer doesn’t recognize the external drive.  If this is the case, take your computer and your external drive to your local PC guru and see if they can get the information off of it.

The only reason that I can think of for your photos not loading once they’re downloaded is that they were saved in a format for a specific program, like Photoshop that’s not installed on your new machine.  You can tell this from the extension of the picture’s name.  Computers can open most photo formats (.bmp, .jpg, .png, etc).  Photoshop pictures, for example, may have a .psd or .psb extension.  If this is the case, simply install the program on your new PC and you should be able to open them with no problem.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer