Why You Should Back Up (Now!)

Posted September 25, 2013 by Kristen J. Zavo in On the Ladder

Have you ever been cursed with the sight of the blinking-question-mark-folder-of-death reserved for Mac-users (who up until this point thought they were immune to crashes – because everyone knows, that only happens to PC-users)?

I had a different post planned for this week, but the blinking-question-mark-folder changed all that. Now, all my work since the last backup is forever gone into the black hole of data, only retrievable if funded by thousands of dollars or a major crime – neither of which pertain to my case.

Securing an appointment at the Apple store is never a picnic, and it certainly didn’t help that this mishap happened on the Friday of the release date of the brand new iPhone 5s. I did manage to nab a spot, and 24 hours later I found myself in the midst of a sea of tourists and tweens, all excited to get the latest and greatest over-priced texting, browsing, tweeting – and oh yeah – calling, device.

Meanwhile, the tech support guy assigned to me refused to make eye contact. I knew it was bad. The Grim Reaper had come for my hard-drive, and there was no chance of bringing it back to life. I was told that they had to send it away for a replacement. Good news – since it was just under a year since I bought the laptop, it was still under warranty and would be no cost to me. Bad news – it would take up to a week before we (my laptop and I, that is..) would be reunited again.

So instead of trying to recreate the piece I originally planned to post, I decided it would be best to share this story in hopes that my unfortunate luck could serve as a reminder of all the things we are supposed to be doing (but probably aren’t) – to prevent any potential pain and suffering should this ever happen to you. Consider yourself warned!

#1 – Back up 

Don’t rely on the cloud (who really knows what that is anyway?!). Buy an external hard drive and invest the couple hours to do a full backup of everything – your programs, music, and all those mug shots of you and your cat that you would just die if they were lost forever.

#2 – Back up consistently

This is my lesson learned from the whole debacle. Back up regularly! If you do a lot of work, set it up to back up on a consistent basis, whether it’s once a month or even once a week. If I had done that, I might not have lost the original post meant for today.

#3 – Shut down at least a couple times a week

I am guilty of this one too. I will easily go a week or more without shutting down my computer. I was told that the laptop needs to rest, just like we do. And when we leave it on, and just close it – all the programs continue to run. This can make a hard-drive crash more likely.

This is also true for your phone. I am told that we are supposed to be shutting it down once every 24 hours – or at least a couple times a week – in order to have it working at its best.

#4 – Check your warranty; consider the insurance option

I was lucky that I was still under warranty. If this had happened just a few weeks later, this would have been a very expensive lesson. Know your warranty, and consider getting the insurance. For Apple products, the cost of getting the extended 2-year insurance is still half of the cost of this hard-drive that is being replaced – in other words, a no-brainer to have (even though I hope never use it!).

Any tips I missed? If so, please share in the comments below.

UPDATE AS OF 10/3/13: When I returned to the Apple Store a little over a week later, I received different, opposite advice regarding shutdowns. It turns out that there are two schools of thought when it comes to shutting down Apple electronics.

The first, described above, is that they should be shut down regularly to eliminate the constant running of programs in the background, especially when not in use. The second school of thought is that shutting down and rebooting too much can actually be more taxing than just closing the computer (putting it into sleep mode). The official Apple recommendation is to shut down only when you are not going to be using your computer for a prolonged period of time (a few days). Other than that, sleep mode is best.

About the Author

Kristen J. Zavo

Kristen J. Zavo is a product development, strategy and innovation professional, with a special interest in the retail industry. Having always been interested in the people side of business, Kristen loves to explore, reflect on, and share stories about the challenges and adventures of being a businesswoman. No topic is off limits - whether it's how to handle being the only woman in the boardroom, or figuring out how to to pack all the "essentials" for a 2-week business trip in just a carry-on! Outside of work, she loves exploring new places, spending time at the beach and meeting friends to workout (spin or yoga, anyone?!).