Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm sorry, Jake. I'm afraid I can't do that...

Apple Time Machine saved my business last night. It also saved all of the digital photos my family has taken in the past decade, all of the music we've accumulated (including painstaking rips from vinyl to MP3s), our tax records since the early '90s, and a thousand other items I won't belabor.

Here's how it went down. 6:03 p.m., I'm about to wrap things up for the day. I quit Firefox, or rather *attempted* to quit Firefox. But instead of shutting down, I got the little Spinning Beach Ball of Death. Calmly, I tried to force quit the application, and in the back of my head I hear HAL from 2001 intoning, "I'm sorry, Jake. I'm afraid I can't do that." It doesn't work, which has never happened to me. So, I power down the computer.

But when I tried to reboot, I got the flashing question mark folder instead of the Apple. I tried the usual schtick: Reset the PRAM. Nothing. Safe reboot. Nada. I hop on the laptop, do a quick search describing the symptoms, and conclude the hard drive is kaput.

At some level, nagging people to "back up your computer" is a bit like anti-smoking or anti-obesity ranting. It's something that we all know. Either you heed the warnings or you don't, devil take the hindmost. The fact that I'd protected myself allowed me to sleep last night...knowing that a new $79 hard drive and a click of the "restore" button would bring me right back to where I left off, semi-panicked, last night.


  1. Yikes! Nightmare! I don't have Time Machine. uhhhh....something to think about.

  2. Dava, Time Machine is pre-installed on Macs — all you need is a USB hard drive. If you're on another brand, I'm sure there's some sort of automatic backup available. (I know some people swear by online services such as Carbonite and Mozy, too.) Anyway, take it from someone who's been there in the past 24 hours — make a backup system a priority!

  3. Great news! Phew!

    I too am forever grateful for Time Machine and my external drive as well. After a scare last fall where I had to leave my computer with the geniuses at Apple for three biz days, I also am grateful for a back-up laptop — lest I'd have to borrow my husband's PC (ugh!).

  4. Haha, Stephanie -- yes, we have a backup MacBook, so I was OK with correspondence and net access, sans work files.

    BTW, next time you have a computer problem, I highly recommend MacMedia. I brought the computer in a little before lunch and it was ready at 3 p.m., good as new.

  5. We use JungleDisk, thank the stars for that. And hubby just bought an external hard drive. But what I really need is... a new MacBook =]

  6. Any post that channels Hal is a good one.

    Amen to backups! It's good to know that the important stuff is safe. The other stuff is probably things you don't miss in the long run.

  7. @Kristine, I just took a look at JungleDisk.com. That looks like an affordable way to achieve piece of mind -- thanks for adding it to the list.

    @Lori, I consider myself lucky that Hal didn't sever my tether to the mothership.