We’ve all heard the stories of stolen laptops and tablets, of iPhones left in cabs or bars, and how those people often don’t have a backup and have to spend days, sometimes even weeks – and lots of money – to get their lives back on track.
It happens, we read about it, but we seldom take action. This is your checklist to get prepared for when disaster strikes. I’ll guide you through a few steps that one day might save the day, or at least will make you sleep better and worry less.
Get a Dropbox account
There are alternatives too, but this is an easy and convenient way to set-up an online back-up archive. You won’t back up your entire life here (you could though) but we are going to use it as a base for your ‘Emergency Scenario’.
Set-up your ‘Emergency Scenario’
Generate a Directory/Folder in Dropbox and name it ‘Emergency!’ or ‘In case of Emergency’ or something like that.
Generate a system report
Open your ‘About This Mac’ screen (Apple menu->About This Mac) and click the ‘More Info…’ button. An application called System Information will open. Now click the “System Report” button and then press ‘command-s’ or choose ‘Save…’ from the File menu. Save the System Report to your emergency folder at Dropbox.
You now have a very detailed file with all information about your computer including the hardware serial number, detailed specs about the processor, memory and installed drives. If you lose your Mac or it gets stolen and the police ask you for the specifics of the computer you can tell them almost everything, and certainly a lot more than they need to identify it.
Lock your computer
Now you’ve done all of this you still aren’t secure if your computer isn’t locked. So go into your system settings (under Security & Privacy) and activate the “Require password immediately after sleep or screensaver begins” option. Now go to the screensaver settings and set it to 1 minute. Or 5 if you feel lucky.
I’ve set up a ‘Hot corner’ on my MacBook pro that I move my mouse to that starts the screensaver. That way, even when I’m away from my computer for only two minutes, I can lock with one swipe.
Back up, back up, back up!
It helps if your documents are in the cloud, but it is even more convenient to have a real local back-up. There are several back-up tools but I like Time Machine backups because they are integrated and the most non-intrusive.
You can back-up to any external drive (I’ve bought a 2TB USB2 drive for $120 a year ago) or Apple’s own Airport and disk solution called Time Capsule. I prefer the external disk because it is cheaper, faster, more portable and my back-ups don’t slow the network connection down.
Nobody wants to think about disaster and bad luck, and losing hardware, software and data. But it happens, and it helps to take a few steps to prepare yourself for the worst. If you do, a disaster could turn into nothing more than a small hiccup. More info about Mac data protection you can view our site.