I'm currently in the process of setting my Macbook back up from scratch - after an unfortunate hard drive failure.
It died on me 90 minutes before I was scheduled to host a live webinar. And two weeks before I had to jet off (with it) to Vegas to speak at SEO Braintrust 2013.
Fun stuff. But is it EVER good timing for a disk to fail on you?! I think not.
I learned some interesting things in the process though, which I'll share with you. And I have proven (once again) just how valuable Evernote truly is to my business...
I've mentioned before that I use Evernote for practically everything. For example, I had the notes and links for my two hour webinar presentation in Evernote - which is automatically synced on every device/computer. This meant I could switch to my Dell PC, pull up Evernote, and get on with the scheduled webinar without missing a beat.
Let me just start this story by saying I'm very cross-compatible. I tend to use the right product for the right task without any real bias toward one brand or another. That's how I ended up with a 13" Macbook Pro. It's simply ideal for mobile video editing.
After I finished my scheduled webinar, which was a fun training session on Google+ for Social Marketing Results, I hopped on the phone with Apple Customer Support. If your product is out of warranty it only costs $19, and it's money well spent. We walked through the troubleshooting together, and determined it was in fact hard disk failure. He made me an appointment at the nearest Apple Store for 1:15pm on Friday...
It's a 3-hour round trip for me to the nearest Apple Store, by the way. Some of you may remember my last experience (with the shattered iPad). Fortunately this time the actual service was great and both men I spoke to were very nice. That said, they didn't have my appointment on their log, so they had to fit me in a bit later.
It turns out that Apple has a very odd policy regarding hard drives. If they replace yours, you are not allowed to keep your original hard drive. No, not under ANY circumstances. I wish I had known this before I drove all the way into Nashville.
There are a couple of issues with this policy. The main issue for me being data security. I would prefer to destroy my hard drive than to let it just go... who knows where. If you have any financial data, customer data, etc it would be totally irresponsible of you not to properly dispose of that data. Period.
Not to mention I paid for the original drive, and would be (over)paying for the new drive as well. Right. It makes NO sense.
If you ever have an Apple/Mac hard drive issue, DO NOT take it to the "Genius Bar" or Apple Store. There's a better solution...
I left the Nashville Apple Store and drove over to Best Buy just a few blocks away. For less than the price Apple wanted to charge to swap out my hard drive for one of the same size, I purchased a 1TB hard drive from Best Buy (much larger, much better quality) and their Geek Squad team even installed it on the spot.
Geek Squad also offers data recovery services! For $150, if successful, you not only get unlimited data recovery but you also get the external drive they use to store your data. Great deal! Unfortunately they weren't able to recover my data, but no big loss - and no cost. And yes, I got to keep my drive & data.
Now THAT is good service! I can't figure out why Apple insists on keeping hard drives, and why they don't offer data recovery services?! If Best Buy / Geek Squad can do it, Apple certainly can. But they won't. That will be my LAST trip to an Apple Store. Ever. Lesson learned, better resources found.
The Value of Your Data: Mozy, Evernote, Dropbox, etc
As I mentioned, Evernote was a real save. I would have been totally screwed last Tuesday if I hadn't been an Evernote Junkie. lol. Obviously I use other things for data backup as well, which is super important. But never as important as it should be until it's too late (we all have horror stories, right?).
I keep everything in Evernote. It's where I create my info products, outline my webinars, keep my task lists (complete with check boxes and strikethrough for that "real feel"), store all my site notes, and even put PDF files I'm reading.
Evernote is cross compatible and automatically syncs across every device you own. I have it on my PC, Macbook, iPad and Android mobile device. No matter where you are you can add or edit notes, bring up files, and it's consistent (ie up to date) anywhere you access your data. It's just plain awesome. Period.
Of course, you can't keep *everything* in Evernote. For things like documents, photos, videos and other file storage needs you can use something like DropBox to easily store and access your files. Both Evernote and Dropbox also allow you to share certain files (or folders) with other people, which is great for any kind of file-sharing you may need to do. They can both also be accessed from anywhere anytime, so even if your computer implodes your files and data are still safe.
That said, there is one more fail-safe you need. You need an automated off-site full system backup. This will let you restore all of your data (and your data structure) on any computer easily. While Mac's have something called Time Machine which you can back up to an external hard drive and restore, an on-site external backup does you no good in the case of a house fire, flood, tornado or other traumatic event. Not to mention, external hard drives fail too.
This prompted a fun discussion on Facebook this week:
I use Mozy for my automated off-site backup system. I've had to restore it on a number of occasions over the years, which is the true test, and it restores perfectly every time!
Mozy also has great new features now where you can grab/restore individual files via a mobile app or program. Nice! If you don't already have it installed, that is my referral link and I highly recommend it. It does automated backups in the background, so you never have to worry about it - or remember to do backups yourself.
Evernote, Dropbox, Mozy - Crucial Combination!
Think about it for a second. How valuable is your data to you? How valuable is your TIME? Consider the worst case scenario - a house fire, for example - and nobody ever thinks this will happen to them, until it does.
What would you do? How long would it take you to get back up and running? How much time and money would you lose in the process?
If you have Mozy set up, you could go grab a cheap laptop and get a hotel room with WIFI - restore all your data and be back up and running in a matter of hours.
Ideally you should also use Evernote and Dropbox for the most imporant files, which both come in super handy in a variety of situations. Let's say you're traveling and realize you don't have a file you need with you. An external hard drive would do you no good there. And that's just one example.
And now for my BIG confession...
I did not have Mozy set up on my Macbook. I have it set up on both PC's but just neglected to take the time to set it up on the Mac. Why I never got around to that is anyone's guess. Stupid is the word I use for it, lol.
I do have a Time Machine backup on my external hard drive. But the last backup was done exactly one year ago. Why? I got very sick right after that, had surgery followed by a horrifically long recovery, and other things took priority.
This is life. This is most people's life. Lesson learned (always the hard way).
Fortunately most of my files are online somewhere, and I create/store EVERYthing in Evernote. Take my new product for example. All of the files are already online. But I did lose the source files - and I need them to make edits for Version Two.
The good news? I have all of the outlines (with notes, links & references) for every product file... in Evernote. So I can very easily recreate the source files!
I did lose a few things, but nothing of major value. Except time. Ack.
My biggest take-aways from this experience are that Geek Squad is super cool, the Genius Bar is NOT for smart people, MOZY MOZY MOZY, and that yes... Evernote still totally rocks my socks!
I'm off to recreate my presentation for the SEO Braintrust 2013 event in Vegas. There's still time to register if you want to join us there! Meanwhile, I urge you to analyze your current backup system, and make sure you have all your bases covered...
p.s. I want to hear YOUR data & hard drive horror stories! Leave a comment below. I would also love to hear about your current backup setup, what you use, and anything useful you picked up from my experience here in this post.