I bought my first Mac back in February and for the most part I've been quite pleased with my MacBook Pro. It looks great and the screen is incredibly clear and vibrant (I haven't seen the Retina display on the brand new MacBooks but I can't imagine anything looking better than this). As far as performance goes, it took quite a while to get used to a Mac-based system instead of the Windows-based universe I've spent 20 years in, and I'm still learning. Minor things like "how to do a forward delete?" (you can't -- you need to download software to remap your keyboard and this is crucial for a writer who does a lot of editing) or "how do I uninstall that forward delete software that didn't work?" (again, not as easy as it seems). So while I was sold on the Mac being more "intuitive" than Windows and where "everything just works", my 20-year bias towards doing things a certain way (which is likely not as intuitive in general) has been difficult to retrain. In addition, I'm still using Word and Excel, just the Mac versions, and they are not the best programs in the world on a Mac, so again, it's not been a wholly positive experience. Of course, working on a comparable Windows laptop is a disaster, generally, hence the whole "I want to buy a Mac" decision. I don't think this MacBook "crashed" a single time in its lifespan and although I was sometimes discouraged that it slowed down when I was doing too many tasks at once, it didn't completely freeze or otherwise force a hard reboot, something I've had to do on a Windows machine at least once a week (for the past 20 years). So all in all, I was happy with the decision and purchase. That is until I had something happen that had never happened to any of the 15 or 20 Windows machines I've used regularly in my life. The brand new MacBook that I paid a solid $1800 for inexplicably crashed -- like really crashed -- and didn't return to life. Hard drive failure. The fucking hard drive failed. Needless to say I wasn't happy.
I spoke with a nice gentleman from Apple Support and he did his best but admitted that hey, I think your hard drive is fried, if you have an Apple Store near you, I'd give that a try. And oh by the way, do you have a backup of all your data? Because it might be gone. He didn't say that "it might be gone" part but yeah, I'm not an idiot and I know what a hard drive is. Not good times. Fortunately, well, we'll get to the fortunately. So the next day I go to the Apple Store at the Freehold Mall at lunchtime and it's a work day but the store is absolutely packed. I'd made an appointment at the Genius Bar at support's suggestion and was able to see a "genius" quickly. He took about 2 minutes of testing to determine that yes, indeed, the hard drive is fucked, and do I have a backup? I told him I did (which I did, fortunately) and he checked the rest of the laptop, all looked good, if I had an hour to wait they would swap out the hard drive with a new, presumably functioning one. I drank some Starbucks, walked around the mall for a bit, realized that walking around the mall was killing my bad foot and sat down for a bit, and then when I returned I had a new hard drive (no charge, of course, and there better not have been). So the whole Support side of Apple was pretty damned impressive and within 24 hours of the machine dying I had a functioning new one without much lost besides my time... oh and every piece of data that was on the old hard drive.
So about a month ago, I'm listening to the Nerdist podcast (check it out, it's freakin' awesome) and they mentioned, as many podcasts and XM broadcasts do, that they were sponsored by Carbonite.com -- online backup security for your computer. For whatever reason, this one time I thought "you know, I've got a boatload of super-important shit on that laptop, maybe I should give it a try". I downloaded the trial version and was about to install when I said "it's only $50 for a year, fuck it" and paid for the thing. In a few easy steps all of a sudden all my files were being backed up to some server in the sky somewhere and I had a little peace of mind. I never thought I'd need it. Especially not so soon. And for my brand new fucking Mac. So the major advantage of Carbonite versus a backup drive (like the one I have for my work laptop) is that it is constantly saving your files in the background (as I found out), not relying on you to remember to back up your files onto the hard drive or some other method. The computer crashed on a Sunday after I had spent all of Saturday out of the house (Moonface!) and the last thing I'd done on the machine was save a Word document related to my novel. When I went onto Carbonite.com after the kind Apple Support guy told me on the phone that my hard drive was fucked and so was I, I was more than a little bit relieved to see that Word document in its latest version sitting on the Carbonite servers. Thank you, Carbonite, thank you. The major disadvantage in the online backup system is that it takes a boatload of time to upload and download huge music and video files to and from the server. So after downloading all my documents on the new hard drive, I didn't bother downloading the music and video from there (it had not completed backing them up after 3 weeks of running... over 200 GB worth of media). But a combination of my iPhone and my other computer (a desktop running Windows that I haven't used really at all since I got the MacBook) had all (or hopefully all) of the media files that I needed to restore. I'll let you know if anything is missing. So the moral of the story? Even Apple fucks up every once in a while and while they do their best to help you when that happens, spend the $50 on Carbonite for a little peace of mind. And no, they didn't pay me to write this post. I'm just thankful for them. And the Nerdist podcast.