Remote workers: What's your plan in case your Mac dies?

My Mac, which is my one and only computer, didn’t die – quite. But I was happily tooling along on my 2015 MacBook Air a month or two ago when suddenly the power button started to become unreliable. Sometimes the MBA would power up, sometimes it didn’t. Not something that could be ignored! I took the MBA into the Apple Store and they said good news, they could repair it free because I was still covered by AppleCare!

Bad news: The repair would take 5-7 days. I can’t be without a Mac for 5-7 days; it’s my one and only computer.

I thought I was being smart; I bought a new MacBook Pro on the spot knowing I had 14 days to return it. I transferred my documents over from Time Machine, and worked on that while the MBA was in the shop.

But then a complication ensued: I was going out of town for a business trip for five days, which coincided with the time the MBA would be coming back and with the end of the grace period.

So I ended up keeping the MBP.

I’m happy with the outcome, I guess. I like my new Mac. My wife needed a new Mac anyway, and I’m hoping she’ll decide she’s happy with the MBA.

But from a financial perspective, this is a bad outcome. I can’t afford to be without a Mac for more than a few hours, or to drop $2,500 every couple of years.

How do other remote workers and free agents handle this problem? Do you have spare Mac around the house?

This is one area where our Chromebook brethren have us beat. If you work in the Google-verse, you can get a nice Chromebook for a few hundred dollars from any consumer electronics store in the world.

Multiple redundancy. I have iMacs in my two homes and my workplace. I have laptops at work and at home (the home one travels with me). My sweetie has an iMac as well, my previous one. My user account is still on there if I ever need it. Between the new iMac in my home office and the MBPro, I’ve never needed to use hers, although I’ve used my user account on it for troubleshooting purposes.

I also keep documents synced to the cloud and to eternal drives, so I can access them from pretty much any machine.

Fortunately, I haven’t lost the use of a primary computer for very long, but I did lose connectivity with the MBPro for an as-yet unkonwn reason this past summer, for a day, and that worried me. I got things running again but came darned close to pulling out that 2009 iMac. We did use it later in the summer, and it worked great. I would have been OK.

“Multiple redundancy” is precisely the situation I’m trying to avoid. Sigh. :slight_smile:

And I do like your typo, “eternal drives.”

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I travel with my eight year old MBA on trips longer than a week or two. Just in case. And my active work is in cloud services so I can pull a file with an iOS device in a pinch.

The downside of this is that I recently forgot I had the second laptop - TSA pulled it from my bag and ran it through but then another passenger accidentally picked it up - cameras were checked, police were called, and we were escorted to the other passenger’s gate to collect the laptop which another cop had already pulled from her bag. Actually very impressed with how effectively TSA and airport police were in getting it back. But…if you try the two laptop approach make sure you remember you packed the second :wink:

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Multiple Redundancy sort of happened unintentionally. When my sweetie decided she wanted to go Mac, I started handing down my older iMacs to her when I bought a new one. The second iteration, we were going to sell the 2009 iMac or ship it off to her mother, but decided to keep it in the other house for guests. Ergo, three personal iMacs (including hers) plus the one at my work.

As for the laptops, I just got tired of schlepping one back and forth to work every day, so when I got the new MB Pro, I kept the old one and now leave it at work. I am a professor, and that is the machine that I carry from classroom to classroom. It’s a real workhorse.

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I’m in the process of switching my work documents to platform-neutral formats. I love Pages but I fear I’ll have to find a multiplatform alternative.

Everything in the cloud. If any of our devices die, we can buy a new, login, sync and continue.

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Even with multiple Macs I ran into some issues earlier this year when the battery on my 2012 Retina MacBook Pro started really going bad. At the time I took the MPB in to work every day to supplement my work issued desktop PC. I ended up upgrading my old Mac mini with an SSD and took it in to work. Once I got the battery replaced on my MBP it became the backup.

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For years I ran a desktop – laptop pairing, and extended that to a desktop (work), desktop (home) and laptop triangle, with essential data for work sych’d via dropbox.

What I realized might be better for me (especially after Apple’s neglect of desktop machines) was to decouple storage from the CPU … as Apple intends, via Thunderbolt. So now I have an older laptop at work, essentially plugged in as a desktop scenario: a nice LG monitor, a couple of TB3 enclosures striped together with SoftRAID for the large data sets, a CalDigit break-out box for all the other desktop connections, and day-to-day stuff still synch’d via dropbox.

What I like is that if there’s a problem with the work machine, I can bring my laptop in, sit it on the same stand, plug a few TB cables and pick up where I left off. When my old MacPro at home gives up the ghost I may also replace it with my work arrangement, and go down to two CPUs / two “desktop stations.”*

(*TBH an even older laptop sits in the cellar as an experimental server, in front of a bunch of TB2 storage striped via SoftRAID into large volumes, for back up. The cellar is my peripherals graveyard; but upstairs, or at work, I’d like things standardized on TB3 with its much larger bandwidth and cleaner connections.)

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Yeah, but that requires buying a new Mac, right? Expensive!

Which cloud services do you use?

Good scenario for many but I need my setup to be mobile. I spend about 20% of my workdays on the road and need to be fully functional while away.

Yes. If it’s dead, it’s dead.

I use iCloud and OneDrive primarily, coupled with an old Dropbox account (that is mostly used for archiving, whereas the former two are more actively used for projects and temporary storage).

I use Reminders for personal todos and Trello + Todoist for work todos.

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That’s a luxury :laughing:

I’ve had and iMac die, a Mac Pro die, and a MacBook Pro die, as well as various Windows machines over the years. Luckily I’ve had backups and even though creating everything on a newly bought machine is time consuming, it’s still cheaper than having a backup machine sitting around, aging, getting out of date, and waiting for something to go wrong.

Depending on your workload there probably is not a great solution other then the multiple macs option, what I do I get my employer to issue me a Mac for working on and keep my personal Mac as a duplicate environment, with the freedom to know I can mess it around, I run my personal business from my personal Mac and since i deprecate the machine over 4 years it becomes a tax advantage to buy a new one every 4 years at which point it becomes a dedicated backup machine.

The other solution is to look towards the cloud or cross platform solutions so that you could run a chromebook instead of a multi thousand dollar computer for a few days, I believe at this point that they have support for both android apps and Linux programs, if now I know that they can be hacked to just run Linux.

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I moved my current work projects out of DEVONThink and I accessed them with google docs today. That plus the iPhone and iPad should work to get me through a few days or a week Macless.

Do you have a clone backup? If you do, you can borrow a Mac from a friend, boot from the clone and keep on working as usual. Once you get your computer back, you’ll have to sync/replace the files you worked on from the clone drive. Cheaper than a 2nd mac!

… provided, of course, you just happen to have a friend with a spare Mac around :wink:

You can also rent a Mac for a couple of days or week. I’m sure it would be less expensive than to buy a new one or have one just in case. We do this at work for an event where we need 4 Mac laptops. We rent them for about two weeks. You can ask them to install software on them too, provided you have your serial numbers or activation (like Adobe Creative cloud or Office 365).

This assumes I have a local friend with a spare Mac lying around.

Rental sounds like an option.