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What Happens When Justin’s Computer Fails

I rely very heavily on my primary machine to do my job. In fact, it’s really the only thing I depend on. And as I have mentioned here before, the computer itself then depends on backblaze to keep all of it’s files safe.

But what does Justin do when he has to wait for a part to arrive to get it’s computer back to 100%? What systems are in place to help him out and keep his work flow going?

The simple answer is: I have a laptop (or 2) that I can do work from in the event that my desktop PC is completely offline. However, there are a few more complexities to this that really help make sure things keep running both when I switch to the laptop, as well as when I have to switch back.

First: My most important data files are always in sync using Google Drive (I used to use Dropbox, but made the switch for the extra storage). This includes files such as my encrypted password database, which allows me to get into just about everything else.

Second: My primary machine has a secondary OS on it in the event that something kills my main OS. This allows me to boot into it, and map my main storage array as a network drive on the laptop. Your probably asking, why don’t you just work from that drive then? The simple response: I don’t want to have to install all my software twice on my primary machine, just for situations like this. The more complicated response: I don’t want to be working directly on my machine in a degraded state if at all possible. Some might argue I still am… but I don’t even log in to the machine to access the storage shares. I used to do this with linux, just to be extra safe, but I found that dual booting for awhile was an issue (and I didn’t want to have to find a boot disk in the event of this type of failure).

By using my main storage array over the network, it insures that I both have access to my data, as well as, when the computer is fully restored, I have nothing I need to worry about migrating back. It’s all exactly where it should it be.

Third: Backblaze becomes my friend whenever something like this happens. (duh). There are always a few files on whatever drive failed that I have to pull back off. Most of the time it’s something like a license key for a piece of software.

Fourth: My external device setup is design to be easily moved from one machine to the next. In fact, I need only move 2 cables (my headphones and sound board) to my laptop to have full control. The rest are switched with a push of a button thanks to a USB KVM switch I use. Monitor, mouse, keyboard, external usb drives, iphone are all switched whenever I push the magic button. The only reason I have to redo the sound wiring is because normally my laptop is wired into my soundboard so I can hear it at the same time I hear my regular computer… if it was on the switch, this would create a nice little feedback loop whenever I switched to the laptop.

So needless to say, other than the slowdown caused by not-as-good hardware… I barely lose a beat.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Alex May 6, 2012, 1:23 pm

    You are happy with Backblaze, then? I keep meaning to get it for Mykala and I (lots of music and picture files to backup offsite), but I haven’t done it yet. Any problems with it?

  • PK May 7, 2012, 7:51 am

    Yeah I’d like to know/hear more about backblaze too. We had a drive fail a while back and $1k to restore most of the files was way too much to pay. I’ve been backing up locally for now, but wanted to get into an offline solution.

    As far as computers go, let me know when the MSA upgrade is going to occur – I still want to help.