Design Best Practices: Backing up your drive


I did something stupid. I made such a rookie mistake, that it’s almost embarrassing to admit. I didn’t back up my computer. And I’m sure you can guess what happened… My Mac Book Pro Hard drive died. Like utterly failed in the process of trying to update to the new IOS. And nothing in the last few months had been backed up. Very big no no.

I remember so clearly standing up on stage as a peer mentor in college giving advice to new students about how to be successful, and #1 was always “back up your stuff”. Every quarter we would have students come into their finals completely defeated, teary-eyed and prepared to haggle for an extension because in the 11th hour, their project was lost due to computer malfunctions with no backup.

I should have known better, but I just didn’t think about it. I figured, this computer is only a few years old and it’s shown no sign of problems. Surely I have time to back things up. WRONG.

It just goes to show that even my beloved Apple products will fail. Please do yourself a favor and buy an external hard drive and back your stuff up every month, every week.. whatever. Just do it.

On the positive side, $160 later and I have a brand spanking new Macbook pro. It’s nice, its clean, and its fast. I feel like I could accomplish a ton now without a desktop COVERED in screenshots and 2 or three folders called “sort” or “desktop” or “figure it out”.

If you’re like me, you might not know much about the differences between different brands of hard drives. I’ve had a couple both portable and non-portable and most of my buying decisions were based off price alone. Jeremy Widen has offered a little insight into some good choices for creatives:

“There are a lot of hard drive options out there. And the question of what drive to get comes down to what you’re using it for. The most secure drive you can get is a solid state drive. These drives don’t use disk space to spin the drive, this makes them more secure than other drives; less moving parts means less likely to break. There are a few really good solid state drives to look at, but I don’t tend to use them because they’re out of my price range.

When looking at other drives there are a few options to keep in mind.

1) Powered vs Portable: does the drive need to be powered from a wall, or can it be powered by bus (the computer).
2) I/O type: usb2, usb3, firewire, Thunderbolt, etc.
3) Size: what is the capacity of the drive.
4) Spin speed: how fast can the drive read and write.

For powered drives the technology has become pretty standardized. But for brand, I really like G-Technology and Lacie, but Western Digital also makes some really solid drives. Powered drives usually can have higher capacity and tend to last longer. For video editors (or anyone using large files) I’d recommend no less than a terabyte in capacity; either Thunderbolt or USB3, Firewire 800 if you can’t find the others; and a drive that spins at a high speed, no less than 5400rpm, 7200rpm would be preferred.

If you’re not working on large files or need a simple drive, you can get a portable drive; these drives are powered via the computer’s bus power. The options are the same with powered drives, and I’d recommend the same specs: high capacity, TB or USB3, >5400rpm. But for smaller files (i.e something for web) you can get away with less space or slower speeds. My favorite brands are still G-Tech and Lacie; but Western Digital again is a really solid option.

Drive technology has become so standard that brands don’t matter as much as they used to. But, when buying a drive, be sure to do your research and get the drive that suits your needs. And remember, the better the drive, the more expensive it is. You may want to lean towards cheaper drives; but as with all things, you get what you pay for.”

Thanks to Jeremy for providing some advice on hard drives. Check out his blog about more useful tools on film making.

I lost about a months worth of client work, so I have to do some major catching up, which is why my posts might be even lighter than usual. I appreciate your patience and as soon as I get an update on the blog re-design from my developer, I’ll share it with you. From what I gather, there were some family emergencies that have delayed the completion of my new site. Understandable.

Stay tuned!

  • Design Best Practices: Backing up your drive

    25 April, 2014 at 12:56 pm
  • @LorettaMay explains why you should always back up your work! Computer crashes suck. Check it out on @Cre8tivedrive

    25 April, 2014 at 3:38 pm
  • RT @jdwiden: @LorettaMay explains why you should always back up your work! Computer crashes suck. Check it out on @C…

    26 April, 2014 at 11:42 pm
  • Great advice, you can always rely on your computer breaking down at the most inconvenient times. Better to spend some time backing up, than not doing it at all and losing everything. At least now there’s cloud services, or places like DropBox to put all your important files on.
    Speaking of backing up…

    27 April, 2014 at 11:52 pm