Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a big fan of Apple products but that ‘loyalty’ was momentarily tested over the past few days after suffering a hard drive failure in my iMac.
So what happened?
4.20pm on Sunday 11th April 2010 (ah yes I remember it well) I was finishing recording a video on ‘content aware scaling’ when all of a sudden my iMac refused to respond. No mouse movement, no sound, no ability to restart…nothing, so as you can imagine, having never suffered so much as a hiccup over the last 6 years of using Apple a mild panic began to set in. More so, when I forced a ‘shut down’ and then when I turned the iMac on again all I was presented with was the following symbol on the screen:
So it’s Sunday and the Apple Support Centre is closed and I’m unable to do anything. Well, when I say anything we do have an old(ish) Mac Book which is used mainly by Mrs D but this isn’t anywhere near as high spec’ as the the iMac nor does it have any of the editing software etc that I use on a regular basis. Anyway having learned I can swear fluently in a foreign language I eventually counted to 10, took stock of the situation and accepted that nothing more could be done until the following morning when at 8am the Apple Support Centre would re-open.
Monday morning I’m on the phone from 7.59am onwards to be first in the cue and managed to speak to an Apple Rep by the name of Dominic who despite being unable to resolve the issue after some 30 minutes or so, was incredibly patient and went a long way to helping me ‘relax’ about the whole situation; not an easy thing to do when I realised that before the ‘crash’ I’d imported 7Gb of images from a client shoot, formatted the memory cards but hadn’t got round to backing them up onto another drive.
The iMac ended up being sent to the Apple Hospital where it remained for some 9 days which felt like an eternity as all I kept thinking about was the 7Gb of image files I had potentially lost. Day to day running of the business was carried out using the MacBook and my iPhone, which despite not being ideal was a ‘god send’. Oh incidentally, the only calendar I had was on my iPhone as I’d left a tick out of the box on my mobileme account which meant my iCal Calendar hadn’t been syncing and neither had my contacts; yeah I know…My name’s Glyn and I’m a numpty
So, 9 days later I get the iMac back fitted with a new hard drive but disaster!!!! The service guys had been unable to recover any data off the old one. Now at that moment I could have very nearly lost it, and I mean lost it however…this is where Apple Time Machine Saved my life and what happened next has, if there had ever been a minuscule amount of doubt before, sold me completely 110% on Apple.
For any of you out there who are using Apple Computers but aren’t making use of the Time Machine utility that first appeared in Mac OSX 10.5 Leopard, then I strongly advise you take a good look at it. In a word it is incredible! Time Machine backs up the entrire contents of your computer every hour on the hour and does so continuously without you even noticing it; but it’s so much more than that. The ability to recover anything (files, emails etc…) going back months and months at the click of a button is just the start.
What I didn’t realise about Time Machine was that it also does a backup of your Settings, Applications, User Details, Layout Preferences…the whole lot. What this meant was that all I had to do was tell Time Machine to return my iMac to exactly how it was before anything happened, and that’s exactly what it did. Unbelievable!!! And so incredibly easy to do.
What to do:
Getting Time Machine to restore your Mac to it’s pre ‘crash’ state couldn’t be easier. Taken directly from Apple’s own support pages here’s what you do:
• Insert your Mac OS X Install disk, and double-click the Install Mac OS X icon.
• In the Restore Your System dialog, click Continue.
• Select your Time Machine backup volume.
• Follow the onscreen instructions.
Before this ‘incident’ I actually thought I had my ‘Backup’ Workflow pretty much sorted but clearly there was room for improvement. We’ve since ordered a new 17″ MacBook Pro along with the Apple 24″ HD Widescreen Display for editing and working in the studio and the iMac will now replace the old MacBook and be used for invoicing, accounting and general day to day business activities.
A new Drobo FS is on it’s way so that both machines can ‘Backup’ over a network. If you’ve not heard of a Drobo it’s basically a Robotic Unit that can hold a number of hard drives. The Drobo constantly monitors the health of each drive and if it notices any problems then all the data is taken off the troublesome drive and spread across the others automatically. You can read alot more information and watch demo videos on the Drobo at the manufacturer’s website.
I always remember what Scott Kelby said a while back when we was talking about the importance of having an effective ‘Backup Workflow’:
“Hard Drives are always in one of two conditions: 1) Crashed and 2) About to Crash”
So what’s your Backup Workflow? What do you do or use to minimise the risk of losing that all important data? Is there a Windows alternative to Time Machine?
Had any ‘heart stopping’ moments when you’re hard drive has crashed and you’ve lost everything? What do you do now that’s different?
Having an effective ‘Backup Workflow’ is incredibly important so if you have any suggestions or ideas on what you do or best practices then why not share them here in the comments section below? It would be great to ‘hear’ your thoughts on this topic because I’m sure there’s plenty of us out there always looking at new ways to do things or hear of other useful kit or software that can help.
Anyway, thankfully this time it was a happy ending with a fully restored iMac and no data loss.