Steve Abraham

What if your hard drive died?

A couple of weeks ago Chris Coyier tweeted the following: "You could wake up tomorrow and your main hard drive could be dead. Are you ready?". This got me thinking; if I woke up tomorrow and my main hard drive was dead, what would I lose?

As it happens, after giving it some thought, I think I’m pretty much as safe as I can be, and I don’t even take any backups. Unintentionally, I’ve got myself into the situation where I’m working almost exclusively from “the cloud” with almost zero reliance on local data… and I figured I’d share my set up.

I’m very fortunate when it comes to data; I really don’t have a lot (in terms of data size) to store, so I know my story is not typical and won’t apply to everyone. None the less I think it’s quite interesting how I’ve ended up at this point without it being my intention.

I’m a full time web developer/IT manager, and a freelance hosting & IT support guy. These two hats mean I’ve got a wide variety of data to store, I’ll briefly run though these.


Easy; as a Google Apps user I’ve got 6 to 7 years worth of email stored with Google. No local mail client, I work solely through Google’s web interface, so that’s as safe as I need it to be.

Browser Data

By this I mean bookmarks, etc. As a Chrome user I have my browser set to sync back to my Google account using the native Chrome Sync facility. Aside from keeping everything constantly backed up, this also means I have the same data on all of my many computers.

Web Development Files

Thousands of images, HTML/CSS files, ExpressionEngine installers, ExpressionEngine add-ons and so on, all sitting in my Dropbox account. The second I save any file or make any changes they are instantly modified (with roll-back file history) in my Dropbox account and rolled out to my other computers. I have the Pack Rat add-on, so I can go all the way back to my first day of using Dropbox, years ago, and recover or roll back any lost or overwritten file.


My music, which doesn’t account for a lot, is almost all through iTunes. I can log into iTunes and re-download anything I’ve purchased.


Anything I’ve ever shot that I’m at all precious about has a high-res version stored in public or private folders on Flickr. Again, as safe as I need it to be. Yes I might lose my RAW files, but I can live with that

Passwords/Secure Data

1Password to the rescue; anything that’s sensitive is stored there and synced using Dropbox.


I can’t remember the last time I bought software on physical media. Between the Mac App Store and various software company websites (serial/activation codes in 1Password, Dropbox or my inbox) I can re-download what I need.

I believe that with all of the above, I could put this laptop in the bin right now, go out and buy a new one, and within a few hours be back up and running pretty much exactly where I left off, even half way through posting this.

How would you fare?