This post is not about how to recover from a crashed disk. It’s about how not to let a disk crash affect you in the first place…
A few weeks ago, the hard disk of my home computer crashed. Just like that. It wouldn’t turn back on. I ran some diagnostics using a recovery drive to check if there was any chance of salvaging it (the hardware, not the data), but there wasn’t. So I unplugged it, ordered another one, and went about my business on another device.
When the new drive arrived a few days later, it took me less than 30 minutes to have it up and running with every thing I needed. No data files to transfer. No settings to copy down or migrate. No nothing.
This was the goal when I began moving to a device-independent setup a few years ago. Piece by piece, I had successfully moved every thing I ever do on a computer to the cloud, so that if the day came when my hard disk crashed, I would not be affected.
And, it was satisfying to see that it worked! Today, all the mobile and computing devices I use (at home or at work) are irrelevant when it comes to the data they work with. It’s all online. Synced in real time. No fuss. No muss.
Here’s what works for me…
- Google Calendar – To manage multiple calendars online; Synced across devices
- GMail – For my work/personal emails; Synced across devices
- Google Drive – For all my personal work documents; Synced across home PCs/laptops I frequently use
- Box.com – For all home/common documents; Synced across PCs
- Evernote – For long notes; Synced across devices
- SimpleNote – For short notes; Synced across devices
- Google Photos – To backup any photos I shoot (on the phone/cameras) to my Google account
- Pocket (plus its Chrome Extension) – To save any bookmarks from my phone or PC that I need to read/retrieve later
- ToDoist (plus its Chrome Extension) – To save any To Do items (with/without reminders) from my phone or PC
- An Android device serves as my primary mobile phone
- All my Contacts are saved on a Google account – nothing is saved/stored on the phone
- SMS Backup & Restore – To periodically save SMS messages & threads (when migrating from one phone to another)
- Google Photos – To auto backup any photos shot on my mobile device
- Apps for SimpleNote, Evernote, ToDoist, Pocket and Drive, as above
Second Level Backups:
- All documents & pictures from any computers I use are also backed up – once a year – to two external (portable) hard disks… This goes in a folder with the name YYYY
- I also keep one of the two external disks in a remote location as an offsite backup, just in case
That’s it, really! This simple setup now enables me to work from anywhere, with instant access to all my data, as long as I have an Internet connection. Plus, if one device fails, I can literally switch over to another in minutes, without any loss of data.