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Backups Matter: The High-Stakes Game of Laptop Ownership

If you use a laptop as your primary daily driver and never make backups, read this.
Backups Matter: The High-Stakes Game of Laptop Ownership
Photo by Art Wall - Kittenprint / Unsplash

Every single time I traveled with my laptop I was pissed off because of this.

Losing the laptop is a disaster. Game over. All would be lost because I keep everything there: documents, 10+ years of work, photos, accounts, passwords, etc.

It felt especially critical during my relocation adventures. If I lost my laptop at any point in my journey, the only thing I could do is to buy a ticket and fly back home.

Believe In Yourself! Losing a Laptop Is Possible!

It may seem that losing a laptop is hard. IRL it's not a biggie.

First of all, a laptop can break down hard. If it has an embedded SSD like MacBooks nowadays, good luck pulling the data out of a dead motherboard.

Secondly, neither HDD nor SSD are immortal. I think everyone has overcome the loss of an SSD at least once. Did you?

Last but not least. Surprisingly, there is a nasty real world outside of computer hardware.

  • Once upon a time, I lost my backpack with a laptop during a hard afterparty of an IT meet-up. Luckily, I found it in the morning.
  • Another time, I spilled a coffee mug right on my MacBook. It was fixed eventually, but for some reason, they love to wipe devices after spare part replacement at official Apple services.
  • Once, we were enjoying a tasty kind of craft beer when somebody stole my mate's backpack right in the bar.

Shit happens.

Even if you reside in a calm, nice, and safe country, there are always magical tourist places with pickpocket wizards.

In countries with lower safety levels, one can be robbed. During my calm life in my hometown, I think I've passed through 5 to 10 attempts of being robbed overall.

I Do Backup Things

TBH, the story above is not 100% true. It doesn't even trigger me to feel an anxiety attack kick in for a single reason: I make backups.

Previously, I had a very dumb but working way of doing it.

I had 2 HDD drives stitched with duct tape together where I was storing my MacBook time machine backups. I was doing backups on one of them or another, so at any point in time, each piece of data had up to 3 copies.

Each hard drive had a passphrase-encrypted APFS filesystem so losing a drive wouldn't have caused any consequences.

It all worked perfectly until the external disks got filled with backups, my laptop got overwhelmed with photos and other media, and I got the necessity to back up several devices, store old device archives, etc.

I took a look at all this and started building a homelab server.