I do most of my research and writing in a home office on a MacBook Pro laptop running (foreshadowing a bit here) OS X Lion. I have two cats. One of them, the very loving and athletic Spunky, is my office mate. I start my day with a large cup of lightly roasted, conical burr ground, hand dripped coffee. Spunky starts her day draped across my shoulders.
This Tuesday, as I was lifting my coffee to my mouth for a sip (just after I had submitted my V-Person report to our editors for review), Spunky jumped off my shoulders and rubbed her jaw against my wrist. Most of the 16 ounce cup of coffee spilled onto the keyboard of my computer. The screen went dark. Disaster.
I turned the machine upside down to let the coffee drain out. (The latest MacBooks don’t have a removable battery and I don’t have the tri-drive tools to open the case.) Next, with my iPhone, I got on the web to schedule a “Genius” (technical support) appointment at my local Apple Store. The first available appointment was for 1:30pm that day—a long eight hours after the spill. My office is six miles from the Apple Store.
I kept myself occupied with a decent and long workout at the gym and completing some stuff around the house. I had lunch. At 1pm, I left for the Apple Store.
Jon, the Genius assigned to me, listened to my tale of woe and then took the computer “in the back” to do an initial diagnosis. After a few minutes, he returned and showed me the damage. He offered two alternatives. The first was to send the computer out for repair. Apple has three “depots” that deal with liquid spills. For a flat fee of $755, they’ll fix the machine or they’ll return it unfixed for no charge. The second was to buy a new MacBook. Jon noted that liquid spills usually make disk drives unreadable and their data unrecoverable.
There is a good part to my story. Here it is. I told Jon that I would follow both alternatives. I also told him that I had an external drive with a current and complete backup of my system and my data. Yeah, I’ve been doing regular backups for several years. With the latest operating system version, “Lion,” Apple has made backup pretty automatic with the Time Machine feature. Jon smiled. He could have written the rest of this story.
My new MacBook cost $1199 plus tax. It was on my desk by 3pm. The third setup screen asked if I had data to import. I plugged in my external drive. About 40 minutes later I was up and running on my new MacBook as if it were my old one—same apps, same data. The data was two days old (the last backup date) but I knew what needed to be updated and the biggest update was the report that I had just submitted via email. I recovered all the changes from the email attachment. But the first thing I did after setup was complete was to take a backup. Also, a new house rule, no Spunky in the office with coffee.
A happy, but expensive, ending. Pretty cheap actually considering that my professional life was on that unrecoverable disk drive. (By the way, Apple was not able to fix the old machine.)
Please learn from my experience. Your professional lives and maybe your personal lives (think about the pictures of your kid and grandkids) are on your laptops (and desktops). Backup is cheap and easy for Windows as well as for Macs. An external drive will cost you around $50. Backup apps can be part of the operating system like Mac OS X Time Machine or extra. A complete backup service in the cloud will run about $10 per month, or maybe your IT department will do it for you. Backup takes me a minute. I backup once a week. Do it, too. Now. You don’t need a cat to destroy your machine.