My family is staunchly Mac-only, but we weren’t always this way. In years past, I’d sworn by Windows XP, thinking Apple computers something nice to play with but not for real computer users. Ah, the ignorance of youth. Here’s a lovely tale of fail from my “Windows years.”
It was six years ago this past June that I married my lovely wife. It was a beautiful wedding, and we enjoyed a wonderful trip up to Chicago for our honeymoon. When we returned at the end of the week, I was greeted with an uncomfortable message from my Compaq Presario, “Drive not found.”
At some point during our travels, my computer’s hard drive had failed. This is no major tragedy. It happens to everyone at some point. However, I had just finished my first year of teaching, a terrible year where I had little-to-no curriculum and had to write my own, and I had yet to create a backup copy of all those lesson plans and worksheets that I’d spent countless hours crafting.
I’d lost it all.
The entire first year of my professional career was entirely gone. Forced with no other options, I began rewriting it all.
And I was smart. I changed my workflow and began backing my work up. To a flash drive. That died. Lost it all. Again.
So, here are some tips that I forged out of a twice-broken heart:
Back It Up—For Real!
A flash drive/jump drive/thumb drive is not a backup solution. It’s a file transportation method.
Ever get a thumb drive for free at a conference? Ever wonder how they can pass them out for free? It’s cause they’re cheap! They don’t last for the sheer fact that they’re not made to last. I should have known that; I hope you know that now.
Get an external hard drive. Get a cloud account. Get both! I currently use Time Machine on both of my laptops (home and work) and all of my work files are backed up between Google Drive and Dropbox. And as I’m writing this, I think I’m going to throw a backup on Copy and Box.net as well.
Watch for Warning Signs
After my first drive failed I replaced it with what had been my slave drive. So, I replaced a dead drive with an older one. It wasn’t long before my computer would boot up, warn of impending disk failure, and then finally boot into Windows. I don’t know what I was thinking…oh wait. That’s right. I wasn’t.
Was I being lazy or arrogant? Yes. Either way, I had a chance to prevent disaster, and I didn’t. I hope you recognize the signs of impending doom and take the steps that I didn’t.
I was twice bitten by drive failure. Am I bit overcautious? Maybe. But I’ll do anything to never lose my data again. (And I am currently cross-backing up my Google Drive and Dropbox to Copy and Box.net. Only an hour left.)
Have you ever had a major tech wreck and then not learn from it?