Backups are good

So last night at around midnight, Katie’s Toshiba laptop (which was my laptop until I switched to Macs full-time back in April) decided to freeze and give a very nice blue screen.

I should have wrote it down, but the blue screen looked really really bad. As if something was wrong with one of the computer’s drives.

I attempted to reboot and got a message about IDE #0 missing. Lovely, a hard drive crash.
Just make most PC users, Katie does not keep backups. Just like most busy geeks, I never got around to doing it for her. I also never implemented a backup strategy for my Mac. It was always one of those “oh, let’s run a manual backup” moments that happens maybe once a month.”

Luckily at my old job, I had run into so many dead hard drives that I knew how to resurrect them briefly to get the data off of them. So I decided to wait 10 minutes, hoping that perhaps the hard drive was overheating.

That worked. Luckily, she isn’t a heavy computer user…she had at most around 2 GB of data to backup. I was able to boot into Windows and burn most of her data (documents, photos, and music) onto two CD’s. Then the computer blue screened again. I waited another 10 minutes and got the computer to boot up again. The rest of the data I threw onto my flash drive, since it was much faster then burning a CD.

I learned some important lessons last night:

  • Never assume the user has their own backups. Odds are, they won’t. A backup plan is a MUST.
  • Always buy the extended warranty with a laptop. This incident, combined with when the laptop’s fan decided to die, should now total up more then the cost of the extended warranty itself.

Today I am going to BestBuy to drop off the laptop for repair. In the meantime, Katie and I will be sharing the Macbook for probably the next two weeks.

Always take the time make sure you have a proper backup strategy. I am going to spend part of today looking at Mac backup programs and getting it all configured. I hope I can use it to also backup Katie’s laptop (when it is repaired) over the network.