Apple file vault and good backups save the day!

I frequently travel with my Apple powerbook, and have always been concerned that someone might steal my laptop, or the disk drive would fail (this is ahuge single point of failure). To address both concerns, I enabled file vault to encrypt my home folder, and backup my data once a week to a central file store. File vault does slow down certain operations, but it works great if you use your laptop for surfing the web, checking email, and chatting with folks online.

Well — this weekend one of my concerns came to fruition. My powerbook disk drive croaked. Sometimes the drive works, sometimes it doesn’t, and it is making all of those lovely noises that drives make when they are on the fritz. I am not sure why smartmontools didn’t pick up the failure, and unfortunately I can’t get the machine to stay up long enough to extract the SMART attributes. Luckly I have a service contract on my laptop, so getting the drive replaced should be relatively straight forward (I have never dealt with AppleCare, so we will see).

Since I use file vault and backup my data weekly to a safe location, I don’t have to worry about the technician or drive manufacturer looking through the data on my laptop (not that there is anything worth looking at, but I am a privacy nut), and I also don’t have much to do to get my machine back online when it comes back form AppleCare (it should be as easy as installing OS X Tiger, and scp’ing my data from my central file store).

As most people who have met me know, I am a FANATIC when it comes to backing up data. I typically backup my data once a week to a server with redundant disk drives, those disk drives are periodically swapped out, and then I archive the data on those drives to a one or more DVDs which I store in a safety deposit box. Now you might ask me, Matty, why are you such a fanatic when it comes to backups? Well, I have collected technical notes, contacts and documentation for the last ten years, and I couldn’t imagine losing all of the data I have collected. This backup strategy may sound excessive to some, but using this practice means that my powerbook disk failure is an inconvenience, and not a life traumatizing event. :)

P.S. Anyone use their parents house for DR? ;)

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