Note: Please see the more recent version of this post for the most up-to-date tips for traveling with your computer!
Today, the internal hard drive on my MacBook Pro failed with less than 36 hours before my departure for Bangkok. As I sat in the SoHo apple store listening to the fate of my
trusty little companion my emotions ranged from confusion to anxiety to total devastation. When I asked how a $2,200 dollar (I went for all the upgrades) computer’s hard drive could crap out over a year, the very helpful Apple guy explained that with my traveling lifestyle, in which my computer is constantly being exposed to heat, dirt, bumps and shifts, it was pretty inevitable. So, those of you traveling with precious Macs take note: finish reading this post and then go implement these changes now… maybe someone can learn from my mistakes.
Here are the lessons I have learned from today’s disasters:
1. Above all else, I need to go back in a time machine and use Time Machine. I am an idiot. I vaguely knew that Time Machine was a backup system for Macs but never bothered to learn what it was or how to use it. Basically, it creates a clone of your computer- the files, the applications, the settings, everything- and saves it on an external drive. I actually have an external hardrive backup of the majority of my photos, videos, and documents. However, I lost all my applications and settings even those that can be redownloaded will require tons of work, for example all the photoshop plugins and actions I have downloaded or developed over the years will need to be redownloaded or redeveloped. Moving forward, I’m going to backup with Time Machine once a week or more.
2. My files need to be more organized. Part of the anxiety I am feeling right now as I try to cobble my computer back into its former state comes from having no idea what exactly I am missing. My computer (much like my life!) has been a disorganized mess for as long as I can remember. No more. I need to make a system and stick to it. It will make everything in life easier- most notably doing backups and recovering from nightmares like today.
3. I need to start saving for a solid state hard drive. The primary advantage of a solid state drive over standard hard drives is their lack of moving parts. Whereas a standard hard drive is a mechanical device with lots of tiny components subject to impact shock, motion wear, and magnetic failure, a solid state drive is an electronic device that isn’t damaged by being jostled around in a backpack for a year, for instance. A solid state drive is infinitely more friendly to the constant traveler. However, they are not friendly to the wallet. Not friendly at all. My initial research tells me this will cost anywhere from $1,000-2,000. I have about 20 months left on my Apple Care, at which time I hope to make this upgrade. So I need to put away $10-20 per month for the next two years and viola– I will be totally ready for my new drive!
4. It’s time to install Prey. Okay this doesn’t have to do with my drive crashing specifically but today put the fear in me over what I would do if I lost my computer in a different way… through theft! Hopefully I’d still have my recently Time-Machine-updated backup drive safe with me but I’d still want a shot at recovering my laptop. Prey is an amazing service that helps you locate your laptop using GPS, monitor mirroring, camera recording and all kinds of sneaky spy stuff. I’ve read amazing stories of recovery! Note: To avoid financial devastation in the case of loss or theft I also have my laptop insured as a rider on my parent’s homeowner’s insurance. I recommend this route if possible over travel insurance which is often near impossible to obtain for high value items and even harder to collect on.
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So there you have it. Some lessons that I really didn’t want to learn today, but I did nonetheless! Lucky for me I have still have apple care… Meaning this fiasco cost me nada in US currency. However. It will cost me days in time and several rounds in emotional beatings. At least next time, I will be more prepared.
And I would do it all again for the beauty of being able to travel with my computer and use it to connect with friends and family, earn an income from freelancing, and share my journey with all of you through this blog. Stick with me a little bit longer this time, little computer!