New York Daily Photo Analytics

Monday, April 04, 2011

Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien

There is nothing that seems more unproductive than time spent on precautionary measures. A token gesture here and there is perhaps tolerable, but time spent on any tedious, methodical practice feels like time better spent elsewhere. Prevention and insurance are contrary to human nature - and with good reason. Most will never really experience a catastrophic event, so why not take a chance and save time and/or money?

Professionals dealing with disaster, repairs and medical emergencies know these things all too well - a mixed bag for them I am sure, since their livelihood depends on the misfortune (and hopefully repair) of others. Fortunately, they also understand that the moment of crisis is no time for lectures - everyone is well aware of what should have been done.

On Saturday morning, April 2, 2011, my laptop had a complete hard drive failure. This was where I do all my work for this website and store files and images going back over 10 years, both personal and for New York Daily Photo.

I do regular backups, but not regularly enough and I do them manually. Manual backups are very tricky propositions because these require that rare trait of unfailing routine and discipline. For computer backups, better to go with an automated solution, taking the human element out of the equation entirely. Apple makes an excellent, sophisticated product for backup called Time Machine (included with every Mac), which can be custom configured by the user for scheduled backups and direct them to wherever and whatever device the user desires. This software utility will save and restore an exact mirror of a computer's contents right down to placement of icons on the desktop.

I had started to set this up when I purchased my laptop in 2008, but because I was unable to configure wirelessly to my satisfaction, I left the project for "another time." I had fallen victim to one of my customary habits, best summarized by one of my favorite adages: don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.*
I already have had two good computer scares which I wrote about: Foolish Crash on 12/11/2007 and Not Good At All on 12/21/2009. The 2009 event should have been the ideal lesson - frightening but where there is little or no loss.

Fortunately, I am in New York City, where there are a myriad of service centers and individuals
specializing in Apple computers. But who to choose on a Saturday morning? Some online reviews,
and I was off to Dr. Brendan's computer repair. I had a nervous afternoon and finally received a phone call - the drive was restored. However, some of the files were corrupted - the technician had already worked after closing time and I was given my drive in a portable enclosure to take home with the task of examining and backing up files. In another near miraculous scenario, all the new files for which I had no backup were retrieved and for all the files corrupted, I had backups! With some hours of file comparison, I was able to rebuild the drive and external backups of every file and folder.

I hope you do not succumb to instinct but instead, listen to reason. Do not wait for a better time or, like me, a better solution. because le mieux est l’ennemi du bien :)

*This saying is attributed to Voltaire, from La Bégueule (1772):
Dans ses écrits, un sage italien
 dit que
le mieux est l’ennemi du bien

Literally, le mieux est l’ennemi du bien translates as the best is the enemy of the good, but more typically as the perfect is the enemy of the good.


Sue K said...

Love my Mac, and of course Time Machine! I depend on it to do its job. Sometimes I wish it was a real time machine, what I could do with that! Glad it worked out well for you in the end. You were lucky. But if you had lost your photos from here, you could have come to my Time Machine, many of them would be there. :)

Mary P. said...

Strange, I was just saying this, "the perfect is the enemy of the good," to someone the other day, but I can't remember the context, or to whom...