Earlier last week, my laptop started to do the kind of weird and unpredictable things you hope and pray that your computer will never do. The screen would suddenly go all wacky, and after multiple reboots I knew it was time to call The MacSmith, my ever thankful for, actually certified with Apple, Mac Repair Guy who is literally minutes from my house. He’s amazing and last year when that AWFUL coffee spill happened on my Macbook Keyboard- he was miraculously able to bring it back to life. #HeroStatus. When I dropped off my laptop last week and explained the issues I was having, he gave me this look that didn’t seem to carry the hope of a 6 month to live diagnosis but said that he would try. GULP.
I mean, you never want your computer to die. You always want one more year out of it. And you ESPECIALLY don’t want your computer to die right after you get home from a big conference and have all these action items and business ideas swimming around in your brain, with the motivation to actually do them! Like, Ugh, really? Of all times?
As I am writing this blog post on a friend’s borrowed computer, I have still yet to hear if I will owe a small repair fee, or if I will be headed to the Apple store to spend thousands on a replacement. Um, tension anyone? However, this has been a GREAT reminder of what kind of preparations you should have in place just in case YOUR computer were to have a panic attack. (Mine was totally unexpected, with no warning signs!)
The very first thing he asked me before I dropped it off was, “Do you have a backup of your data?”
In years past, my answer would have been something along the lines of OH DEAR GOD I DON’T KNOW MAYBE FOR THE LOVE OF CHICKENS PLEASE DON’T SAY THE WORDS THAT WILL MAKE ME CRY RIVERS OF I HAVE LOST EVERYTHING PLEASE JESUS NO WHY ME THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE.
Thankfully… I am a girl who learns her lessons the first time, and this time I was able to confidently say that I did, and that I had data back up in multiple places. I am not in any way a tech expert, but I wanted to simply share what I have in place in preparation for these kind of worst case scenarios.
- External Hard Drives- I keep NO client images on my computer itself, except one folder of frequently used portfolio images that are just copies. All original images are downloaded from a session and uploaded to external hard drives. Not only does this keep my computer running faster with more free space, but it gives me peace of mind that if my computer were to shut down and never turn back on, that my images are backed up in more than one place. I know a lot of photographer friends also use DROBO for a multiple hard drive back up system.
- Online Back Ups- I also use multiple forms of online backups. I currently use both Backblaze ($5/mo) and Crashplan ($5/mo) that back up my entire computer automatically, all the time without me even thinking about it. I believe Crashplan even backs up my deleted files, in case I trash something by accident. All it takes is losing your entire computer just once to really place value on an automatic backup- and I wanted the peace of mind to run two!! I also use Shootproof as an affordable online gallery system and use it as an extra back up of all final edited images that go into the hands of my clients. This also makes my client’s final images more readily accessible even on the go, should I need them for marketing, blogging, or social sharing. Knowing I have an extra online archive of my most important business files- my client’s images- gives me extra assurance that should anything unexpected occur, I have extra saved copies.
- Evernote- I love Evernote for a lot of reasons, but one of my favorite is the ability to access important information from any device. I keep blog drafts, and other important documents stored safely there, where I can easily pull them up even without a computer. I love how easy it is to search a keyword to find the information I am looking for quickly- especially since I am quite honesty terrible at organizing computer files well.
- Google Drive- Similar to Evernote, I keep a lot of important documents stored safely in my Google Drive. This includes documents like a a running budget spreadsheet for my upcoming Fount Workshop, etc. I think the repeated pattern here is to not just have external, tangible back up, but online back up as well!
- A Studio Binder- This is something that I have not yet made, but it is officially now on my list after this week. When I borrowed my friend’s computer to get some online work done today, I immediately realized how every single login of mine is saved in my Chrome browser- meaning I couldn’t remember the password for anything- not even Facebook! I quickly realized that I needed to have a printed back up for not only my own reference, since they get changed often due to my own forgetting or spam alerts, but also as a back up in case someone else ever needed to step in and run things for awhile. If you are the only one in your business who knows how to log into your website, pay the bills, or get into your email, it would be incredibly wise to have a studio binder with ALL of that information safely tucked away.
As disappointed and frustrated as I felt to be without a computer when I had SO much that needed to get done this week, I did try and look at the bright side of being without one. I just got home from the Annapolis Creative at Heart Conference (more on that to come!) and yes I had a lot of ideas to jump in head first with- but being without a computer to start actually gave me the time to carefully brainstorm a bit more. Something I have mentioned here before is the importance of taking time to think like the CEO of your business. I think especially when we feel excitement for new things or get back from a workshop or conference we want to just start jumping in and making things happen. But being forced to wait, and being stuck with pen and paper for a few days, actually gave me the opportunity to make a detailed plan for my ideas, and slow down and think of ways to make that one idea even better. Was being without a computer for a few work days ideal? No, but it was a great reminder of the importance of brainstorming and letting new ideas take root before jumping in with abandon.
So let’s be honest, if your computer were to crash today, as a small business owner would you be prepared? Do you have extra backups and an emergency crash plan in place? If not, I encourage you to set aside some time even today to get those precautions in place! You just never know!