Unplanned things happen all the time. That was my situation this week when software and hardware decided not to play nice, take out my primary computer, and ruined a well-planned week.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure, you know there’s only two options – fix it or get a new one. As a glutton for punishment, I did both. (Despite the inconvenience, it did provide a healthy break from all things finance, while I focused on fixing things.)
The real issue is recovering years worth of files. The ever increasing size of hard drive storage enables digital hoarding. The process of recovering files, moving them all to a safe place, re-installing software, and organizing everything just the way you had it is a huge time suck and makes for a thrilling week.
Wild guess, I had about a terabyte of data to wrangle between pictures, music, movies, pdfs, and other document files collected over the years. Not too long ago, this would have been a headache to deal with. Thankfully, the internet of things made it a lot less painful this time around. I thought I’d share a few quick tips.
- Chrome Browser – The great thing about Chrome is, once you sign in, it saves all your settings, apps, extensions, bookmarks, tabs, and more across all devices. About 95% of my work is done through Chrome. Just being able to install Chrome, sign in, and have everything set up was a huge time saver. If you need another reason, I set up multiple user profiles in Chrome – a work profile and personal profile – to switch between depending on what I’m doing at the time.
- Password Manager – If you’re not using a password manager you need to start. I use LastPass, but there are several decent options around. When you have to log back into every site you regularly visit, you’ll wish you had it.
- Music – Google Play Music lets you upload 50,000 songs for free, more than enough space for the average audiophile, and stream it anywhere. Luckily, I just uploaded about 75% of my music a couple weeks ago. It doubles as a podcast player and integrates with Sonos and other connected speaker systems.
- Photos – Both Amazon Photo Storage and Google Photos offer unlimited storage, but with some size and file type restrictions on photos and videos. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, its Photo Storage is included with Prime.
- Online Storage – Google Drive, DropBox, and OneDrive are probably the top 3 online storage options available. I use Google Drive.
- Other Storage – Some less obvious options are Google Play Books, Amazon Drive, and Evernote. Google Play Books lets you upload up to 1,000 pdf or epub files for free. If you’re a Kindle user, Amazon Drive offers 5GB of free storage and its Send to Kindle feature makes it really easy to do. A lot of research papers, annual letters, and a certain Memo ends up on my Kindle app. And Evernote gets serious use for saving articles I read.
- Software – most of the software I use are online services, but a few rare ones need to be installed. The only way to deal with those is to make a list. The easiest way I found, assuming you can access it, is in Windows 10 settings – Start > Settings > System > Apps & features – and you’ll find a list of all the programs on the computer. Write down those you use and ignore the rest (don’t forget to grab Product Keys for proof of purchase).
It’s hardly comprehensive and there might be better options I don’t know about (I left out anything Apple related because I avoid Apple products), but it should alleviate some hassle and worry the next time this happens. I’d add a backup hard drive to the list, but the idea is to put as much in the cloud as possible – at least the most important stuff – to eliminate as many potential points of failure.
One good thing is it gave me a chance to declutter years of old files, simplify things, and move most of it into the cloud. Embracing that reality will eventually make this entire process nearly obsolete. The goal is to get things down to just a username and password, maybe a few programs or apps, then you’re up and running on a new device in minutes.
- A Comprehensive Guide to Cognitive Biases – Quartz
- Two Key Checklist Items – Base Hit Investing
- Gradually Getting Closer to the Truth – Farnam Street
- Simple Rules of Capitalism – M. Housel
- How to Overcome the High, Hidden Cost of Inconsistent Decision Making – HBR
- An Investment Only a Mother Could Love (pdf) – GMO
- When Did Charts Become Popular? – Priceonomics
- The Thrill of Losing Money by Investing in a Manhattan Restaurant – New Yorker