Yesterday I fell asleep to Netflix playing on my computer, and when I woke up, the screen image had been replaced with a simple text line alerting me that the hard drive had died a horrible death. I was expecting it, as it has been making weird noises for months, and my method of fixing said noise has been to whack it until it shut up. Both the symptom and the treatment pretty much guarantees an eventual failure in such a case, so every day the computer has pulled through has been a positive surprise.
While I was expecting it, I didn’t take any additional measures to make sure I wouldn’t lose any data. I didn’t sit down and back up anything, didn’t export program settings and things like that, and basically just watched it die. Why? Because everything I do is already in the cloud! I’m already using Dropbox to store my files, so no extra steps were necessary to safeguard those. My bookmarks and passwords are stored in cloud services as well, and my media library is pretty much split between a Dropbox music folder and Netflix at this point. Of course it’s an inconvenience to have to fix a computer at all, but as far as my data being safe goes, I don’t really care that the thing died.
It wasn’t always like that. Not long ago, a hard drive failure like this would have been a major issue – not because I didn’t have things backed up back then, but because I had things backed up using methods that are more backup-oriented rather than cloud storage-oriented. I was also using more programs than I am now, many of which have been replaced by mobile OS equivalents.
The simple truth is that I’m far less computer-dependent these days. By that I don’t mean that I don’t need a computer, I just mean that it’s less of an issue which computer it is.
As I start on this paragraph, I’m back at the desktop computer that died. The first part of this article was written on my laptop while my desktop was still dead. I ripped out a hard drive from an external hard drive, slapped it in, installed Windows 7, and am up and running with most of my core programs. It took less than 1.5 hours from start to finish, including the physical drive switch, making a Windows installation flash drive, installing Windows, drivers, and software. Dropbox will have to run in the background for a while to get me completely up to speed, and I have a game or two to install, but for all intents and purposes, this is the computer I had yesterday.
I have to say that the freedom that comes with not depending on hardware is great. A hard drive crash has gone from being a massive catastrophe to being a minor inconvenience that I can fix in a couple of hours.