July 2, 2016

Back Up Your Hard Drive

Mac MiniThis is just a quick PSA reminding you to back up your hard drive(s). If you are anything like me, you have heard this piece of advice thousands of times. You've probably even given this advice to others. I know I have. Even people who know as little about computers as I do know that when it comes to hard drive failure, it is not a matter of if but a matter of when. Your hard drive will fail. When it does, you will either be glad you have a working backup or you will be kicking yourself for not having done what you know you should have been doing all along.

One of my computers, a 2008-era iMac I've been using as a dedicated music server for the last few years, abruptly died. I never turn it off, and I noticed that it was powered off. When I turned it on, I could immediately hear that the hard drive had problems. I normally don't hear the drive at all; now I could hear it across the room. The computer would not boot, and when I started it from a different drive, the built in drive could not be located by the OS. Total hard drive failure. This particular model of iMac is notoriously difficult to open, and the maximum about of RAM it can handle has been less than optimal for my needs for some time. Given that I've been thinking about replacing it with a Mac Mini for more than a year, it does not seem worth repairing.

The good news is that I moved my entire music library off of this computer's now dead internal hard drive and on to an external hard drive a few years ago, and I have been fairly obsessive about backing up this external drive using another external hard drive. Thus, I have a current version of my music collection on two external hard drives. As far as the important stuff goes, I shouldn't lose anything. The bad news is that I never bothered to back up the internal hard drive on this computer. I kept thinking that I would replace the computer soon and that I would probably want to start fresh when I did. Of course, this was a mistake. I now realize that I had data on the failed hard drive that I really should have backed up.

The moral of the story is simple: it is far better to have a backup and not ever need it than not to have a backup and realize you lost something that would be handy to have. Once I get my hands on a new Mac Mini and get it set up the way I want, I will be sure to be far more careful about backing things up. Lesson learned. At least, I hope I finally learned to do what I've long known I should be doing.