Welcome to the Cloud
I had a hard drive failure on my year-and-a-half old laptop last week. Normally this would be a complete disaster which would cause weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Yet, thanks to cheap storage, cloud computing, and a bit of cheap software, I barely noticed.
I’ve got around 190 GB of photos, a TB and a half of music and some reasonably large quantity of video files. The music and video are backed up locally on a network drive, but the photos are backed up not once locally, but twice. And they’re also PGP encrypted and backed up remotely in case my house burns down and I lose everything.
My emails back themselves up automatically, bouncing and being replicated from one mail server to the other. I almost exclusively use Gmail for my email needs. All of this should mean that my email is never in danger of being lost and is always accessible. Likewise, I use Google Docs for my day to day “Office” style needs. I’ve decided I can’t trust Google not to lose my stuff so I have it backed up elsewhere after being encrypted with a 2048 bit PGP key, of course. Google even takes care of my bookmarks, just one of those little inconveniences that adds to the nightmare of losing a data.
Sadly we aren’t at the point yet where backing up several TB of data is cheap and fast enough to be taken for granted otherwise it’d all be out there. We’ll need to wait for the National Broadband Network for that. But I’m at least covered with the stuff I can’t live without including documents and photos.
Also, thank goodness I decided to buy Dell. A simple, painless phonecall to a 1-1800 number and I found that my HD failure was covered and that they were going to send a new one out to me by courier on the condition that I send the old one back. Fair enough, they can have it. I doubt they’ll be able to read anything from it because the whole disk is encrypted with Bitlocker, part of Windows 7 Ultimate. Once the disk starts up it will realise that it’s no longer connected to my Trusted Platform and will ask for a 20-character long key.
The only real disaster in this whole scenario is when I went to remove my broken drive. One of the screws was jammed, and I managed to strip it. I mean, they’re only soft-as-butter 3mm screws, so any amount of force will break them apart. I was ready to take at it with a Dremel and a can of WD-40 but, Suzanne, being the voice of reason, said I should call Dell first and tell them what happened. Dell, indeed, were very understanding and said they’d send a technician out the next day. And out he indeed did come. I’ve met him a couple times before as he’s been to our office to service equipment previously. “So you know why you’re out here?” I asked. He knew, alright, because he had a big cheesy grin from ear to ear. So after enduring his “You Id10t” look for five minutes I was able to boot into Windows.
My backups mean I haven’t really missed a beat. I’ve had to reinstall Photoshop so I can get back into tweaking photos for a couple of my sites but all in all it has been pretty painless.