Today, I didn't need my backups. I was lucky.
Last night, I took my MacBook over to Judy Shintani's studio for her Women's Do Your Own Thing Night. I pressed the power button, and my MacBook powered on - but the screen was blank. I took it home, hooked it up to my external monitor - again, nothing. So I pulled out my iPhone, made an appointment at the Apple Store, and tried not to lose too much sleep.
And today I got a new logic board installed - under warranty. But I'm lucky that the logic board was my problem, and not my hard drive, because my last backup was about a week old. OK, losing a week of data wouldn't be too horrible - but it wouldn't have been fun, either.
So the first thing I did when I returned home was to do a new backup, and recommit to doing those backups every night.
Given my experience, I smiled when the following item popped up in my Google Reader today: Yes. Another Backup Lecture.
That comes from Merlin Mann, who starts out quoting John Gruber:
Hard drives are fragile. Read as much as you can bear to about how they work, how incredibly precisely they must operate in order to cram so many bits onto such small disks. It’s a miracle to me that they work at all. Every hard drive in the world will eventually fail. Assume that yours are all on the cusp of failure at all times. It’s good to be spooked about how long your hard drives will last.Merlin goes on to say:
- If it’s not automated, it’s not a real backup.Given that guidance, I'm looking at making my reasonably-good backup strategy even better, since I fail on the "automated" part.
- If it’s not redundant, it’s not a real backup.
- If it’s not regularly rotated off-site, it’s not a real backup.
Lots of things can go wrong with a computer. Here's John Locke's story: "Last week, my laptop died a sudden spectacular death-by-drowning, as a full cup of coffee poured into its keyboard." You might get some warning signs that your hard drive is about to fail - but not always, even if you don't spill coffee on your machine.
Want some help coming up with a backup strategy? If you're on a Mac, you might read The No-worry Backup Plan for a good overview of your options.
Don't Lose Your Computer Files: Do Your Backups
Backup Your Data - Avoid Heartache and Pain
Lessons Relearned in the Last Weeks of 2009 (see #3)
[photo by Mac Users Guide, found on Flickr and licensed under Creative Commons]