I’m a big believer in backups. For client sites that our agency manages, we take 2-3 backups of every site, every day, if not more. However, when my computer crashed last week, I got up and running on a new one with no loss of data — and no real backups. How did that work?
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Last week, the desktop computer I use at my house died. It was almost nine years old, and had a variety of upgrades throughout the years and was quite a workhorse, but it was done. The motherboard died, which essentially means a new motherboard, new processor and new case, so I may as well just get a new PC (which I did). I bought a relatively decent new machine and then cannibalized some of the newer components from my old machine to improve it further. It works great.
The SSD (hard drive) on the old computer likely still worked great, but I haven’t touched it. There is literally nothing on it that I need. There are files that I don’t want others to get (taxes, etc), so I’ll fully destroy it if I throw it away, but there’s no need for me to restore a backup or anything. Why is that?
Over the past decade or so, I’ve really worked hard to make my life flow seamlessly from work (desktop PC) to home (desktop PC) to inbetween (various laptops, usually a Chromebook). That seamless flow means that everything is essentially backed up 24/7 and putting a new computer in the mix isn’t a big deal. Here’s a quick breakdown.
- I use Gmail for my email, calendar and contacts. It’s on the web, syncs to my phone, and works great. I keep two-factor authentication on my Google account (as well as most of my others), making it essentially unhackable.
- I keep all of my files in either Dropbox or Google Drive. It’s a bit of a grey area, but typically my personal files are in Dropbox and work stuff is in Google Drive. Either way, no file lives exclusively on my computer.
- I use relatively little traditional software that needs to be installed. Most everything is web-based; some of those require Chrome extensions, but those sync automatically when you sign into Chrome.
- The few pieces of software that I install on Windows are all synced to their respective sites: Slack, Anki, Zoom and Notion.
So when I got the new machine last week, it took me about 30 minutes to get it up and running and perhaps another 30 minutes of tinkering. To be honest, installing Chrome took care of about 90% of what I needed.
Backup systems are great, and you can always use more. If you have a tool like Backblaze or Carbonite to back up your system, that’s awesome, but make sure one way or another you won’t lose anything in a crash.
Think just for a moment — if my computer were to just poof, stop working right now and wasn’t recoverable, what would I lose? Take time today to get that into a system that syncs so that you don’t need to be worried about it.