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Why Designers Should Always Be Prepared

by | Jan 21, 2015 | Articles, Freelancing, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Always Be Prepared

Yesterday and part of today, I was down. That’s right, I had no access to my working computer. It all started yesterday, when I decided to go to the office and get some work done. I sat down, and tried to share my latest article. After an hour of trying to pull of a 5 second task, I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t retrieve my email, and my computer could barely connect to the web via FireFox. I decided to restart, thinking that might do the trick. Well, it didn’t. Everything I did ended up giving me a spinning beach ball. You’ll see why I always stress why it’s important to be prepared as a designer.

Always be prepared

So, it turns out that I’ve been here before. I run a Macbook Pro, and it’s roughly 3 years old. Having just a regular hard drive, not a Solid State drive or SSD, I knew that it was about time for it to go out. I took my computer to the Apple Store, where they ran a few tests. It turns out my hunch was correct, and the hard drive had one foot in the grave. They said that it would cost roughly $200 to replace the drive with the same one, or I could go buy one and install it myself for the price of a hard drive, at $100. So I hopped back in the car, went to Best Buy, and picks up a Hybrid drive for $114.

Now Comes the Funny Part

It was time to pick up my daughter from school, so we stopped by her school to pick her up. We were about 15 minutes early, and I was anxious to get back up and running. Oh how I wanted to crack open my Macbook Pro and install the Hard Drive, but my precision screwdriver set was at home.

Wallet Ninja to the Rescue

Then, I remembered that I won a Wallet Ninja in the Chinese gift exchange. If you’re not familiar with what that is, it’s a metal tool in the shape of a credit card that has 18-20 different tools in it, like an eyeglass screwdriver, a Phillips head and flat head screwdriver, a bottle opener, 6 hex head socket slots, etc. It turns out the eyeglass screwdriver head was small enough to remove the screws. In 5 minutes I had the back off, the old hard drive out, and the new one in. This saved us a trip back to the house.

Back to the Apple Store

After picking up our daughter, we headed to the Apple store, where they installed the operating system in about 15 minutes. It loaded, and we were in business.

So What Now?

Well, I use time machine to regularly back up my hard drive. All you have to do is plug in a portable hard drive that is big enough, and you can back everything up, while you’re working. It does it automatically. We had some family stuff to do, so I took my restored MacBook Pro back home, plugging in the back up hard drive I have and over 4-5 hours, my Terabyte of work would be fully restored, with all of my Adobe programs, apps, and settings, like nothing ever happened.

So Why Wasn’t I Ever Worried?

Well, that is broken down into several reasons.

  • I place all of my work files in Dropbox, no questions asked.
  • I regularly back up my work via a back up hard drive.
  • I wasn’t behind on work. Procrastination doubles your stress in these situations.
  • I had a plan for when something like this happens.


I can’t live without their service. If you knew me personally, you’d know that I am meticulous about checking and re-checking things. With Dropbox, I don’t have to do that. I just work, throw it in Dropbox, and I know it will be there. All my Work and project files go in there. To me, the Pro account is worth $100 per year, and is an essential part of my business. If my computer goes down, Dropbox is separate from it, so I can always connect via other means and retrieve my files.

Time Machine

With Mac, Time Machine is an automatic backup solution. Simply plug in a portable hard drive, and Time Machine will ask you if you want to back up. Say Yes, and from now on when you plug it in, Time Machine will automatically handle it at regular intervals. No muss, no fuss.

Back Up Hard Drive

There’s no excuse not to have a back up hard drive. They are cheap. A Terabyte hard drive runs about $60. I recommend Seagate or Western Digital. They’ve both been great for me.

What if You Don’t?

Why is that even an option? If you have regular client work and projects, why would you risk losing them all? I don’t want to do my work over again. Actually, that’s one thing that will set me off quicker than anything else. I hate doing something over again. Why waste your time or risk losing money and clients? I save client work and keep it for up to a year before archiving it to disk.

Wrapping Things Up

Well, I was down a day, but things could have been a lot worse. With no Dropbox, I could have lost files and working projects. With no back up hard drive, I would have had to set up my computer from scratch, redoing all of my settings for programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and more. I would have had to set up all of my email accounts all over again. Avoid the heartbreak and frustration and just take the time to back things up. If you own a mac, you can take 2 seconds to plug in a hard drive. The operating system does the rest of the work. You can even do it while you’re working.

So do you have a back up plan? What do you do to avoid disaster when hard drives crash? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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