You know how some abused women allegedly stay with their men because they start believing that they deserve it? Well, I’ve never had that problem. I did realise today, though, that the closest I came to it was spending a year and a half with a dogmatic anti-Mac ranter. I mean, I nearly started believing him. Well, not quite believing. But I had to put up with so many rabidly uttered declarations of “Get a real computer!” and “Macs are overpriced and overhyped, and they just don’t work” that I almost wondered whether my lovely PowerBook was actually as sleek, user-friendly and downright beautiful as it seemed to me. Said ranter seemed peculiarly oblivious to the charms of my fabulous machine. Was it just The Emperor’s New Clothes?
Today I discovered why my intuitive adoration for all things Mac was oh-so-well-placed. See, today I went to the Apple Store to replace my Powerbook that was so rudely stolen in January. And I took along the little hard drive that I’d bought around Christmas to try out the Mac’s built-in backing-up application known as Time Machine. Rob and Greg had been talking about it over dinner, and suddenly backing up had seemed irritatingly, urgently important.
So, back in December, I plugged in that hard drive, and opened up Time Machine. In the past, when I’ve backed up Windows-based PCs, it’s been a bit like trying to figure out what you need to keep for your next tax return – you need to decide what to save, and where (which entails trying to figure out what you’ve already saved, and where you put it last time). All these frightening administrative choices simply scare people like me out of backing up EVER. This time, though, I just switched on the hard drive, and told my Mac how often I wanted it to run Time Machine. Let it whir for a few minutes, then vaguely thought that somehow, backing up is almost insurance in itself against ever needing your backup. Murphy’s Law, surely: the one thing you don’t back up will be the one thing you most urgently need.
Well, back to the Apple Store this morning. It took five minutes to pick out the machine I wanted. Another five minutes to get the hard drive out the car. Around 15 minutes for the backed up data to get onto my new machine. Every file, every folder, every email and photograph is arranged exactly as it was on the PowerBook. The settings, the preferences, the desktop – it’s all exactly as my previous computer was. Except there’s a ton more RAM and hard disk space, obviously, and that nice Intel duo core processor running in the background.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m happy to buy into the squillions of reasons that Macs top PCs in other ways: gorgeous design; intuitive interfaces; stable operating system – in fact, choice of pretty much any operating system in an amazingly stable environment; slick power conservation; lower virus risk; brilliant software that comes standard with the machine … I could go on, or you could click here and read the top 50 reasons Macs trump PCs any day of the week.* But, for someone that works intensively and daily on computer, having my laptop stolen could’ve been a bit like having my home ransacked. The last six years worth of personal letters, work files, emails, photographs, you name it – it was all on that machine. And, like magic, Time Machine took one big fat imprint of the whole lot of it, and gave it back. Respect to those clever Mac people. I think I’ll stick with them.
*(Out of interest, Chriss Rillo, who wrote that list, put out a challenge to a Windows user to write a list of 50 reasons to switch from Mac to PC. Jeff Weisbein rose to the challenge, but not without a disclaimer that he’s neither a Windows fan nor an Apple hater.)