Sharing is backing up

August 9, 2007 life 3 min read

In my usual fashion, I put iTunes on shuffle after checking my email and headed for the shower. I had just finished brushing my teeth when the music quit mid-track. “Weird, it hasn’t done that since before I upgraded to 2GB of RAM”, I murmured. I went to inspect and found that my Mac was frozen solid. “Even more strange…not even the spinning beach-ball of death.” After a hard reset, I was left with a blank gray screen. I knew it couldn’t be good.

A day full of target disk mode, failed attempts to repair with Disk Utility, and a purchase of DiskWarrior later, I was pretty certain the hard drive was dead. 10,000 km (6000 miles for the metrically-challenged) and 6 weeks away from my last backup, I started taking an inventory of everything that I had lost.

Being the first time that I had really gone anywhere cool since I owned my digital SLR camera, I took a lot of pictures while on my 6 week trip. Those photos were probably my favorite “souvenir”, and they were all gone! At least, that was my first thought, and then I realized that I had most of them on Flickr for friends and family to see what we were up to. I still had about 2 weeks of photos that I hadn’t uploaded yet (due to a painfully slow Internet connection), but it could have been worse.

Continuing through the inventory, it quickly became apparent that I really didn’t lose much. We use Subversion for all of our work projects, so all of that is on a server. I had just converted to Google Reader, so I didn’t need to worry about losing feeds. I use IMAP for all my email accounts, so my mail was safe. I use with the Firefox extension for my bookmarks. Most amazing to me was, thanks to, I can even see the last song I listened to before my hard drive crashed (Ani DiFranco, this is all your fault!).

After I returned home, purchased a new hard drive, and began the restoration process, I was struck at how inconsequential the data on my hard drive really is. Simply sharing the things that are important is a way to back them up. That being said, I would have really been at a loss had I not made a full backup before I left for my trip. I would have lost all the digital junk that I haven’t shared: old photos from before I started using Flickr, fragments of random blog posts that I started and never finished, and probably most importantly, my music collection.

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avatar of Brandon Keepers I am Brandon Keepers, and I work at GitHub on making Open Source more approachable, effective, and ubiquitous. I tend to think like an engineer, work like an artist, dream like an astronaut, love like a human, and sleep like a baby.