While I have not become a full-fledged, card-carrying geek in this past week, I can share with you how to prepare yourself for your computer’s demise with a minimal loss of productivity. It’s a fact of life — computers die — and you need to be prepared for this. Here’s a quick guide to preparing for the worst.
Save all your files in Dropbox, Google Docs, or some other form of cloud storage. This is 90 percent of the preparation right here. If you can access your files from anywhere and not be dependent on one computer, this will help you immensely. Go to https://www.dropbox.com/home and set up an account. It’s free and it will pay you exponential dividends if you use it.
Use Firefox or Google Chrome. Give them your data. I recognize that this may be a controversial recommendation. But Google already has your data anyway! You may as well get something out of it! If you set up your browser in your old environment and save your preferences, it will transfer seamlessly to your new environment. All of the movements at the keyboard that have become second nature to you can stay that way. You can pick up where you left off.
Find an old PC. It doesn’t really matter what vintage it is. Laptop, desktop . . . If you have one hanging around your house that you are not using and you can get an internet connection on it, you are good to go.
Install Linux on it. This may be the most daunting step. I installed Ubuntu on my old PC laptop. If you go to http://www.ubuntu.com/, there are tutorial videos that will show you how to do this. It’s alot easier than it sounds. You can either install it for a dual boot system so that you can run Windows as well, or you can do like I did and get rid of the safety net of being able to use Windows and go strictly with Ubuntu.
So, why Linux? It runs very efficiently with a small amount of RAM and a low-speed processor and it doesn’t crash. It’s open source software, so just about all of it is free. And it really works!
So far, the experiment has worked out really well. I’ve had very little loss of productivity. This nice little backup is doing the job quite adequately.
P.S. I got the news on the Mac. It will require a new hard drive. I found out what I needed, ordered a 650 GB (!) hard drive for about $60 and the special Mac screwdriver for about $5. Not nearly as devastating as I had feared.