I’ve been testing a certain unreleased [operating system](http://www.apple.com/macosx/lion/) for the past month or two and I’ve been largely pleased. That was until I ran into a nasty little bug (which has been documented to happen on Snow Leopard, too). It goes like this:
* Type on your keyboard
* Observe as a Kernal panic wipe your screen
A nasty little bugger, no doubt. But here’s the rub: you no longer have any login accounts.
Let me say that again because it’s important: once you reboot, you are prompted to log in to *nothing*. Not a single user account is available to select. You can type in any combination of username and password, but don’t bother, they won’t work.
The neat thing is, I could usually just grab my OS reinstall disk and do some sort of reset trick to tell the OS to create a new administrator account. But the neat part of being on the bleeding edge is… this one happens to crash when you try that.
### “No problem” says Time Machine
I plug my computer into two [Time Machine](http://www.apple.com/macosx/what-is-macosx/time-machine.html) drives almost every day. One at work and one at home.
With a quick reboot and “Restore from Time Machine”, within three hours my entire computer had been brought back to the exact state it was in on a Friday morning and I was back in business (e.g.: I could log in again).
### “I’ve already got this” says Dropbox
Once I log in, [Dropbox](http://db.tt/SwXMrCf)[^1] is already busily computing how many files I have on my machine and which ones are different than what they have on their servers. It was a lot, but within an hour everything had been re-downloaded and my documents, music, and photos were all back to exactly the way there were moments before the dreaded key combination occurred.
### “Just a few more things” says Subversion
Luckily it was a Saturday evening and I wasn’t working on anything of much importance (remember kids, commit early, commit often). So, with a quick “[svn up](http://svnbook.red-bean.com/en/1.1/re28.html)” on my work file directories I had all the code and documents back on my drive from Friday. I’m sure a few local changes I made are missing, but nothing of much significance. I’m a manager, not a maker.
And with those three simple tools: local incremental backups, storage in the cloud, and a version control system I went from utter catastrophe to right-as-rain in an afternoon. If I had my Super Duper drive it would’ve been even faster.
Bad things don’t have to happen to data. This stuff really is that easy…
[^1]: Sign up for Dropbox with [this link](http://db.tt/SwXMrCf) and we will *both* get some extra megabytes!