So my work laptop’s hard drive died last week, on Thursday, my first day back after the holiday. I had dropped it in June and it was predicted the hard drive would go as a result, so I had tried to be mindful about what was on it and what was backed up. Computer gremlins intervened, however, the backup program I was using was timing out and not backing up the computer, so I hadn’t had a full backup of the files and settings in a few months.
This hard drive loss, however, was the best ever. I think it isn’t because of any special precautions I took, but more because the way I use my computer has changed. Essentially, I’m now in the habit of relying on external vendors to do my backups for me (web applications that as part of their service commitment do redundant backups themselves).
- Documents. I don’t store anything in the documents folders that isn’t also stored on Basecamp (our project management software). It’s not perfect version control, but I treat basecamp as the source of current files, and pull down from there when it is time to edit again, ignoring the files I’ve stored, and often tossing the file once it has been uploaded.
- Music. I suppose I’m still old fashioned, I buy my music on CD, so when the digital files get blown away, all I lose is the time invested to rip them.
- Photographs. I shoot digital now, after resisting giving up my film camera for a long time (what am I supposed to do with it now???!). I post the better shots onto my flickr account. Because I have a pro account, I have no bandwidth limits, and I can archive my photos there. This isn’t perfect, flickr wants jpegs and my camera gives me RAW files, so I do lose something in the translation (I’m not storing the original files). But, I’m no photoshop jockey, and huge jpegs are good enough for the quality of my photography.
- Bookmarks. I don’t really use my browsers to store bookmarks anymore. I archive links on del.icio.us and when I need them again, find them there. I do put a few frequently accessed sites into the bookmarks toolbar, but that’s just to save typing. I know those URLs by heart. So, nothing lost there.
- Email. I’m using IMAP settings for my email, so there was essentially no break as I hopped to a surrogate computer for a few hours while the local Genius Bar replaced my hard drive.
- Settings and Software. This was what took the longest to recover, but it wasn’t too bad, a few hours.
All this made me wonder about our home desktop. Although my husband assures me our computer backs itself up to another hard drive rather continuously, I’m following my own best practices and uploading saved photographs to flickr. This has a side benefit of reminding me of some of the great places I’ve been (Yellowstone, Banff) and good people I know (Geoff, Andy to name a few). Hmmm, why don’t I work for a place that sends me to cool mountainous national parks anymore?! Anyway, the hard drive crash has given me a holiday gift – fond memories!