What happens when your Mac's hard drive dies
It's been a hectic few days. The website project is virtually over thankfully, well, I thought it was, until details of the ongoing maintenance and improvement project emerged. We need to get some plans in place as the uni's Vice Chancellor is coming to visit in a couple of weeks, and we have to tell him all about our exciting future.
Ok, time for a bit of Mac Talk. I know, you love it.
People sometimes say that Mac's are ultra reliable, and never go wrong. This is of course complete rubbish, as anyone with a Mac will tell you if caught off-guard. Look at mine - it's now had over £700 of work done on it in the last 3 weeks, the latest drama being the grinding to a halt of the hard-drive. It may be made by Apple with attention to detail, looks and reliability, but at the end of the day it's a computer made of a load of different parts which in turn are made by various different companies. Like my hard drive - that's made to order by Toshiba.
So whilst I think Mac users experience fewer Where-did-I-put-that-hammer? situations as a result of OS / software issues (at least in my experience), when it comes to hardware all computer users are in the same boat, as Apple have no magic dust to prevent things like optical or hard drive failure.
So how about when the hard drive fails, perhaps one of the most disastrous things that every computer user will experience? What's it like trying to recover from such an ordeal which requires one to start from scratch?
Well, I don't know what it's like with Vista, but I remember with XP a format and reinstall was a major headache, and took what seemed like forever. All those programs to reinstall, settings to customise. Say bye-bye to two-days.
Then of course there's data loss. I used to keep weekly or monthly backups, but a lot happens in a week, making the potential for data loss only too, er, potential. And, there always seemed to be at least one little thing that I'd forgotten to back up.
With Leopard? I tell you, it's a picnic. Time Machine - what did we ever do without it? Every hour it makes a complete backup of your entire hard-drive onto an external drive. Oh, and it doesn't affect performance in the slightest.
So, last night at 9pm I had a new hard drive fitted at the Apple store (I discovered that it's such a simple thing to replace even a child could do it - takes about 90 seconds!), then reinstalled Leopard (this took 40 minutes, whilst I was on the tram on the way home). Once home, I switched it on, it detected my Time Machine backup drive and asked me if I'd like to restore my data from there. I said yes.
I left it for an hour, went back to it, and hey presto - it was exactly as it was just before it died! I mean, identical. Settings, my millions of customisations, and of course all my files. Nothing lost at all. Incredible.
No reinstalling any programs. No reconfiguring any mail applications.
At some point soon I'm going to get another internal hard drive - the current 100GB model is a bit on the small size, and the price of a 250GB drives is perfectly reasonable (just not from Apple! My 100GB disk replacement was billed at £170!!). I'll keep a copy of Leopard and an archive of photos / videos / docs on the old disk, then, next time the hard drive fails I'll be able to keep on working without any downtime at all, Time Machine updating any changes made since the swapout.
So, all's well and groovy. Now I guess I can do some work...