Surviving Hard Drive and Backup Drive Failure

A couple weeks ago I lost a hard drive in a personal computer of mine. To make matters worse, when I plugged in the backup - to check it out - the drive failed to mount. Both my main hard drive and backup drive had failed. Yikes!

After freaking out for a few minutes and saying a few prayers I realized I would be ok thanks to the cloud and some network drives. What follows is a list of the technologies that saved me.


DropBox, a web file hosting and sync service, is where I’ve moved a lot of my documents to that I need to share. Since I share a lot of files between 5 different environments (including mac, phone, and linux) I’ve gotten used to using DropBox for these personal files.


I’ve recently started to use Evernote to take notes for a lot of things. Whether it’s an idea for a blog post, the next awesome open source project I won’t end up building, grocery shopping list, or my honey do list on my home it’s now in Evernote.


Passwords can be a pain to manage. I used to have some passwords I reused a lot but many places store passwords in plain text (a terrible idea but I cant avoid all those sites). So, I now use a unique password for every service and that would be a pain to manage without a service like LastPass.


All of my codebases are in a git repo somewhere. Some are on Github, some are on Bitbucket, and some are in other private stores. I’m one of those people that pushes to a remote location often for more than just sharing purposes. It’s a backup of my files (and it helps me share repos between environments).

A Network Drive

The security nut in me is willing to put a spreadsheet of my heating and electric usage on DropBox but I’m not going to put my taxes, financial software backups, or other documents with sensitive information out there. For these cases I use a local network drive that is backed up. It was a great use for an old system and in this case it worked out really well. These are easy to do with old Macs or Linux boxes that can easily share files using Samba.

A Cloned Drive

What I had expected to save me was a cloned copy of my hard drive. Backups are nice but a cloned drive allows me to switch hard drives, which takes just a few minutes, and then I’m off and running again. Unfortunately, this drive would not mount because it had failed since my last clone update. Cloned drives have saved me in the past so I will continue to use them.

When I clone a mac (the system that died) I use SuperDuper!. Another good option is Carbon Copy Cloner.