An Ode to Planning : Or What do my laptop and a paperweight have in common?

On January 20th, 2005, I took the plunge and went 100% indepedent. I had already been working on side projects since the previous August and had been banking the revenue for a major technology upgrade. I made that purchase and bought my Compaq Presario R3000. I had done some research and was satisfied with my purchase.

Yesterday I was plugging along, pumping out code and updates for a handful of different projects and then the trouble began. After more than five thousand hours of use, I had a near-fatal drive crash last night. I worked for the following two hours attempting various disk utils and applications without progress. My only saving grace was my backup procedure which grabs all of my important directories (about 2.5-3 GB compressed) at least once/week and copies them to a different physical drive. I figured that in a worst case scenario, I would have to buy a new drive and go through the painstaking process of restoring my backups.

As I lay in bed in a cold sweat, I had all the implications running through my mind. All of my projects are stored in dotProject. All of my customer information is stored in SugarCRM. My monster todo list is stored in Basecamp. All of my custom applications are in subversion repositories in various places. What was I really losing*?

I would lose time from working on and/or rebuilding all of it. Other than that, switching to my wife's laptop would allow me to start getting back up to speed. Once I installed my backup applications (and tracked down a few stray licenses), I could be fully up to speed in no time. After that, I slept pretty well…

Worst case: I would lose two days of my email and have to spend time rebuilding.

Best case: It would start working again and I'd have more time to prepare for an upgrade.

Luckily this morning I was able to run some disk utilities and restore my system. I'm typing on it at the moment. I'm not confident in it, but this evening I'll have a chance to stop by my local Microcenter and buy a new drive.

More than anything… I've convinced myself that good practices and solid planning can help you sleep better at night.

* Yes, all of my web applications are backed up locally on their servers and then on remote servers.