How do I recover my ebooks if my harddrive crashes?
I received an email from Sarah who had received an email from one of her readers wondering what to do when her harddrive crashed and she had to reformat. Because of DRM, moving away from your existing system because of a system failure or simply upgrading your computer can be fraught with problems. The following are some suggestions in preparing to move your books and how to address a harddrive failure.
Before an upgrade
Make a note of the location of your ebooks. If you choose a default installation, your ebooks are stored in your My Documents folder (or Documents folder if you have a Mac). Each ebook reading application uses a different folder name. It is important to remember that the ACSM file is NOT the ebook file. It is merely the license that allows you to download the epub or the pdf.
Location of ebooks in the My Documents/Documents folder
- Sony: My Books/Reader
- Kobo: If you have downloaded epub files then they would be in Digital Editions. If you are using the desktop app, the files are stored in a sql database and are not able to be retrieved. You’ll need to download the “epub” version from the website and those will be found in the Digital Editions folder.
- Nook: My Barnes & Noble eBooks
- Kindle: My Kindle Content. There are several files in the folder but the important ones are those that end with AZW That is the ebook file. The others are for the whispersync services.
Usernames, Passwords, and Credit Cards
Adobe Digital Editions license is dependent on a username and a password. Don’t remember your Adobe username? Open Adobe Digital Editions and go to Library -> Authorize Computer. The popup screen will tell you what username the computer is authorized to. Write this down. Keep it somewhere so you can remember it. You can even email yourself the username.
Barnes and Noble Nook books depend on your username/password and a credit card. Look into the Nook settings for what credit card is associated with your account. If you change your credit card information, you may need to redownload your books.
Kobo, Kindle and Sony rely on a username/password authentication.
Making a backup
There are a number of ways to create a backup of your ebook files. For the companies that offer cloud storage such as all the major etailers, you may prefer to redownload new copies of your books direct from the source onto your newly formatted harddrive. The folders to backup are the locations of the books you identified above. Other backup strategies include:
- USB drive or SD card
- Online cloud storage
- Emailing copies to a different email address (which a) only works if the other email address stores your emails and b) is essentially another form of cloud storage).
- Attached backup harddrive
After a harddrive crash
The good thing is that most of these companies allow you to redownload your books. The bad thing is that you often have to redownload them one by one. Further, if you don’t remember where you bought your ebooks, you may not be able to recreate your digital library. Some smaller retailers won’t allow you to redownload your books. You are given one opportunity or a 24 hour opportunity and that is it. These smaller retailers, however, often are selling non DRM’ed books. If that is the case, you may be able to recover your ebooks using a harddrive recovery software.
- Gather your emails, passwords, usernames, credit cards
- Redownload the retailer software
- Authorize your programs
- Redownload your files
If you can’t remember your passwords or usernames, try contacting the various retailers. Ordinarily, you can get those companies to either email you your username or have it reset over the telephone after providing sufficient identifying information. Check last week’s post for the customer service contacts for the major retailers.
If you have forgotten your Adobe ID you can fill out this form here so long as you remember the email address you used at the time of registration or use the customer support page. More on the Adobe ID here.
If you can’t remember where you bought all your books, request a few months of your credit card or bank statements and review all the locations of your purchases. Another tip is to use only one credit card to buy your ebooks and then you need only look at that one statement.
In sum, here are some tips to keep in mind as a new or experienced ebook reader.
- Keep track of your purchases. One way is to dedicate one card for purchases of ebooks.
- Remember usernames and passwords. A password program can help to remember these for you and still keep you secure.
- Backup using offline storage like USB or SD cards or cloud storage like Dropbox. Back up your My Documents folder.