Making your system bullet proof

In a former life, I worked in IT – and have, subsequently, some strong views on backups.

My current working computer system is an iMac – running two external hard discs. Recently I’ve had a confluence of bad luck with my imac – hard disc died, then replaced, LCD screen with dead pixels, then replaced and, finally, power supply died – and has now been replaced.

Where you’d be tempted to run to the hills screaming, none of this has been an issue, and here’s why:

3Year Warranty + Time Machine + Dropbox (oh, and an iPad and an Macbook).

3 Year Warranty – I used to tell people never to bother with these, back in the days when you (or, certainly, I) could open a PC up and replace any faulty part with something out of my spare parts drawer. Once I moved to macs I started buying the three year warranty – and I stopped thinking of them as a warranty and more of a way of guaranteeing that I will have a working computer system over three years – given that I used to upgrade computers every six months or so, three years seemed a mighty long time. I’ve never regretted the extended warranty, my last iMac had a faulty LCD screen that was replaced – and would have cost the guts of £500 if I’d needed to buy the part, let alone cost to repair.

Time Machine is apple’s backup software – it’s pretty crude, but very effective. Set it to back up once an hour on an external hard disc and you have a pretty bullet proof system for most people. If the external hard drive fails then the internal one is usually ok and you can quickly buy a new one (even Tesco’s sells external hard drives now!). Internal drives can be easily replaced to, though slightly more awkward to get at.

Dropbox – well, if you don’t have a drop box account then you’re a fool (why not nip off and get one now, it’s free: http://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTIxNTA5MDI5 ) Drop box allows you to set up a local folder on your computer where it will then invisbly synchronise those files over the internet. You can also install dropbox on multiple computers with your account and the folders will be kept in sync across every computer. This means that, if you use it as a working folder then it’s backed up remotely, and simply logging in from another computer will give you access to all of the files you had. I can’t stress how stress free this is.

iPad – used the iPad for general webbrowsing because the…

Macbook – is my wife’s. And, as happy as she is for me to borrow it to work on Manga Studio, she’s not so keen for me to borrow it to sit on the internet…

And that’s my setup. (Well, not all of it, that’s the setup that allows you to worry a LOT less about your computer blowing up on you…)

-pj