Hard Drive Failure – Who Cares?!?

Recently, my Dad emailed my 2 brothers and I about his adventures after a hard drive failure.

I responded: “What? You don’t have everything backed up – in the cloud?” His response: “Go pound sand!” Love you too Dad 🙂

My response: “I feel a blog post coming on.

In the past a hard drive failure, other major malfunctions or the complete loss of a computer were serious problems (or risks) for all!

Not so, anymore. In fact, if my computer completely evaporated I would simply turn to my left, or right, jump on another computer and be plugging away on whatever I was doing in seconds!

How can this be? I use the cloud! In my case Google Drive.

I’m using this AWESOME service in (at least) the following 5 ways:

  1. As a mirror copy of all the “working files” on my computer. As I create and edit files they are auto-magically saved “in the cloud.” And, by logging in to my account (from any connected computer or smartphone) I have access to these files.
  2. For my archives – Since my MacBook Pro has “only” 160 GB of storage I move any old stuff over to Google Drive and remove it from my computer. Again, it remains easily retrievable at any time.
  3. When I need to collaborate with others on a document I’ll create it in Google Doc’s MS Office equivalent (and FREE) app:
    • Google Document = MS Word
    • Google Presentation = MS Powerpoint
    • Google Spreadsheet = MS Excel
  4. Whenever we travel outside the country I’ll place our critical travel documents (copies of passports, itinerary and other “stuff”) in a folder and share it with the other members of my family (who are, and are not, traveling). That way, if anything were to happen to us or our docs, anyone of us could retrieve them. Feel kinda like a spy when I do this 🙂
  5. My email. Other than when I am fully engaged with a client, and need access to their MS Exchange system (to handle their internal email, book meetings., etc.) ALL my email is within Gmail. As such, my email is reference-able from anywhere / anytime and NOT dependent on, or downloaded to, any specific device.

Notes:

  • I realize that Gmail is a separate app from Google Drive. Since I’m on this “kick” about being in the cloud and device independent I thought I’d throw that into the mix.
  • I say I use Google Drive in “at least” 5 ways, because there are probably other things I’m using this for that I’ve failed to report on and have taken for granted 🙂

How much does all this cost? A whopping $1.99 per month for 131 GB of storage.

A (valid) concern that I had to grapple with was security. That is, how do I prevent unauthorized access to my account? In addition to the standard username and password layer of security, Google offers 2-step verification. That is, when you try to log in on a new device it will ask you for a top secret / randomly generated code (for your account). This code is provided as follows (more spy stuff):

  • Google offers an app for your smartphone: Google Authenticator. When you fire it up it generates a random number – for me / my account. I then type that number in (after my username and password) from the new device and “voila” I’m in.
  • But, what happens if I lose my iPhone. Google thought of that too and provides 2 options by allowing you to:
    • List Backup Phones that can be used to generate the verification code.
    • Generate “Backup Codes” in advance that you print and keep in a safe place (or on your person during travel) that can be used to gain access to your account (in addition to your username and password).

For me, the above was enough to allay my concerns with security.

Given this service (and others like it) there is no need to fear a hard drive failure (or the complete evaporation of a computer 🙂 ).

p.s. – My Dad just reported he is now backing things up in the cloud, using Dropbox. My brother tells us that Dropbox has the same file backup-related features and syncs to the cloud whenever a file is saved. Another great feature about Dropbox is that it keeps previous versions of your file. So, if (more likely, when) we screw something up and need to go back to a saved version from a few days ago, it’ll be there. Nice!

p.p.s. – Just remember to keep the app (Google Drive or Dropbox) running in the background. After “bragging” to my Dad about this I realized I had shut it down several weeks ago (for some reason). After lighting it back up it took 10-15 minutes to re-sync everything. We are again protected from disaster. Phew!

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