The Mac I need

I use a MacBook Pro 15” (late 2013) as my personal computer, and for all of my writing. I was looking into upgrading this year, and found out that there’ nothing for me now in Apple’s lineup. 
The iMacs are nice, but they’re too expensive for me (our local reseller sells them at double their price in the US, which isn’t cheap to begin with), and there have been recurring reports of reliability problems with them.

The MacBook adorable is very thin, very light, but too weak and with too small a screen to be my one and only computer. This is the traveling businessman’s choice.

The MacBook Pro lineup is terrible. It’s too expensive, I don’t need or want a touchbar, and none of them have the ports that I need and use: an SD card and a USB 3.0 port. As it is I have to use a USB hub at home, which is terrible (and crashes my Mac’s Wi-Fi reception whenever it’s too close to the back of the laptop), clunky and inconvenient.

The MacBook Air would have been good enough, if Apple would have updated its ridiculous screen.

So after a bit of thought, it looks like I get to keep my money for another year or two, with the hopes that either Apple gets its act together when it comes to Macs, or I will be able to do all of my work on the iPad++ Pro 17” or something.

The Mac I need

Backup, backup, backup

[Note: I use a Mac for all of my writing, so this post is geared towards Mac users. If you have a PC you need to find a replacement for Time Machine or SuperDuper  — Windows Backup does not work well and I haven’t found a good enough replacement — but otherwise the rest of my post is still relevant to you.]

It doesn’t matter what you are writing, whether it’s a paper, article, short story or novel, if you are typing into a computer, you need a backup system.

Start out by investing in an external hard drive, one that isn’t a portable 2.5’’ drive (those are less reliable over time), but a full sized drive from a reputable maker (Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, Tanscend, Lacie, etc). Buy the largest HD that you can afford (4-5 TB should have you covered), and make sure that it connects to your computer via USB 3.0.

Then setup Time Machine and/or SuperDuper (if you are on a Mac) to backup your entire hard drive regularly. I scheduled Time Machine to backup my HD once an hour to my external Lacie drive. Over the years I have had a chance to restore my entire computer from it when my cat decided to take a walk all over my keyboard, causing a kernel panic and somehow corrupting my filesystem. This is the backup that you will use when you accidentally spill juice over your laptop, or have a HD crash, etc.

A local backup of your entire computer is great, but it isn’t very useful if your house burned down, if you had a power surge, an earthquake, tornado, etc. That’s what online backup is for, and for this I use Backblaze. For $5 a month you get unlimited, unthrottled online storage, and a nifty and very simple to use piece of software that flushes all of your files to the Backblaze severs. This is not a bootable backup, but a backup of all of your data. It’s for the I-lost-my-house-and-everything-in-it kind of scenario, where you have to buy a new replacement computer, but still want all the data that you had on your old computer. As an added bonus, you can access your Backblaze files from anywhere, so if you just want to checkout a file or two, or flush your photo library between computers, Backblaze can help you with that too.

Dropbox is not a replacement for Backblaze, because it’s not geared towards online backup (not in pricing nor in its interface and options), but it is a good file sharing and syncing service. Use Dropbox coupled with Scrivener’s “Backup” and “Backup to…” to create up to date backups of your current project that you can access and update from anywhere.

Finally, remember — if your backup system relies on you to remember to back something up, the it’s not a backup system. 

Backup, backup, backup