A Backup Story



One of the strangest  IT experience of my software career so far.

As an independent contractor and software developer I have to maintain all of my own computers so while I am not a professional IT person I do have a lot of experience since I’ve built all of my development machines from scratch (parts) for the past 15 years. In that time I’ve had my share of hardware failures. These are frustrating because any time spent working on the infrastructure is not billable to the client, so it’s lost time for everyone concerned. Luckily I tend to have multiple machines so when one fails I usually just switch to the next working machine.

The SSD Hard Drive on my primary development machine began to fail sporadically. I tried a few things then decided to give up and replace it. Since I need to continue working I decided to just buy a new one and if I can warranty the old one I’ll put it in an external drive enclosure. So off to the store and I buy a new larger faster and more reliable SSD, and a SATA drive enclosure. The plan is to take part of the day and reinstall the OS and the development software.

There’s no lost data because all of my documents are in DropBox and backed up on an external drive, and all the development is using Mercurial, so the code lives in the cloud. If I hadn’t been able to check the code in I might have lost one day of work, but that’s not the case so everything was just fine on that front.

I get home and I think maybe I’ll try backing up the drive just one more time. The old SSD goes into the drive enclosure, and hooked it up to a laptop. I download some free drive partition imaging/backup software and back it up. Then I think, can I restore that backup to  the new SSD? The new SSD goes into the drive enclosure, hook up to the laptop and a few minutes later I have a new image of the old drive.

Then the moment of truth, I put the new SSD into the computer and …. it boots.

Problem solved, all data retrieved, no time consuming software installations, and back at work!

The lesson; having an SSD boot drive of 128 or 256 gigs makes it an easy decision to image the entire drive so if it fails you can just buy a new one and put the image on it. Even through you may have data backups and all the software can be reinstalled, the time saved is worth it.

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