You may have noticed that I haven’t posted quite as much this week. The reason? I had a perfect storm of my iMac crashing and having to be in 3 different states over the course of a week. Yikes!

The new iMac is hear and running wonderfully, and before I hit the road for the third time this week, I thought I’d share some things I learned from this experience.

The Story

In case you missed it, I got a new 21.5″ iMac about a month ago. I had been running everything (my studio, HSC, etc.) off of a 3-year-old white Macbook. It still runs great, but it was starting to fade, so I jumped on a demo iMac from Sweetwater.

The first issue I ran into was a bad logic board (the firewire port was unresponsive). I took it to a local Apple repair place, and they fixed it in a couple days. No big deal. (And it was all covered under warranty.)

Well, a few weeks later the iMac decided to shut itself off…never to power on again. So weird. We think it’s a bad power supply.

A week later, I’m typing this article on a brand new iMac, and it’s working like a charm. This could have been a huge nightmare, but it was mostly just an inconvenience. Here are some tips I came up with six tips to help YOU, should you experience a crash in your near future.

1. Buy from a Reputable Dealer

I cannot stress how important this is. Like I said, I bought the iMac from Sweetwater. Yes, I used to work there. Yes, they are a sponsor of HSC. However, I personally buy my gear from them. Check out my review of Sweetwater here.

Having a relationship with your dealer (whoever it is) is crucial, especially when things go wrong. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if I ordered this directly from Apple or from a big box store online.

As soon as I had problems, I called Sweetwater, and they handled it. Plain and simple. Since this was the second issue this particular iMac had experienced, they just sent me a brand new iMac. AND they paid to have the defective machine shipped back to them.

In addition to that, Sweetwater’s tech support helped me get my Waves bundle up and running on the Macbook. (Since I had upgraded to V7 for the iMac, my V6 plugins on the Macbook were no longer authorized. I upgraded to V7 on the Macbook, and Pro Tools would crash when I launched it. Sweetwater’s in-house tech support helped me out tremendously. No other dealer that I know of does tech support. Very cool. I was able to handle both issues with one phone call.)

2. Keep Your Boxes

I’ve written before about how you shouldn’t throw away the boxes your gear comes in, because you’ll need them when you have to move your studio. They also come in handy when you have to send something in for service. Had I thrown out the iMac box, I would’ve been up a creek.

Luckily, it was sitting happily in my attic. I just pulled it down and packed up the iMac. It took less than five minutes. I don’t even want to think about how much time I would’ve spent searching for another box.

3. Have a Backup Machine

This is obviously not always feasible, but if you can, have a backup machine for your studio. I don’t mean buy two computers, but if you replace your computer (like I did), don’t immediately get rid of the old one.

Had I decided to sell my Macbook on eBay, I would have literally been dead in the water until the new iMac arrived.

4. Keep Your Serial Numbers

This may seem obvious, but when you buy a new computer, you have to re-install all of your software. And unless your software is iLok authorized, you’ll have to re-enter your serial numbers. If you don’t have them, you’re in for a difficult time.

Almost all of my serial numbers have been emailed to me at one point or another, and one of the awesome things about Gmail is I can quickly and easily search my archives and find them.

Also, if you’re a Pro Tools user, you’ll need the activation code, which is normally printed on the inside of the Getting Started Guide. If you happen to lose that guide, like I did…ruh roh.

If you’ve registered your copy of Pro Tools, you can simply log into your account at, and your authorization code will be sitting there waiting on you. (Important note: Had I not registered my copy of Pro Tools, I would not have been able to find that authorization code…and I might have needed to buy PT 8 again. Or I would have at LEAST had to spend a day on the phone sweet-talking the folks at Avid into helping me out.)

5. Use External Hard Drives

I don’t need to tell you again that you need to back up your work. However, some of you may still be recording to your internal hard drives on your computers. Not good. Here’s why you should use external hard drives.

Since all of my Pro Tools sessions are on external firewire hard drives, I simply plugged in my Macbook and got back to work. Had they been on my iMac’s internal drive, I wouldn’t have been able to access them.

6. Take Advantage of the Cloud

I’ve gotten to the point where I rarely depend on one computer to handle everything. Using Dropbox, I sync up all my files, including my iTunes library, across both computers.

Simply move your iTunes folder to your Dropbox folder, then hold down option while you launch iTunes, it will ask you where the library is located. Simply navigate to the iTunes folder in your Dropbox folder and BAM! When I add a song to iTunes on the iMac, it shows up on the Macbook. Pretty cool, right?

As much as I can, I keep all important processes/information on the internet as opposed to a single computer. I host all of the content for the Production Club and Mix With Us on Amazon’s S3 service, so none of that was affected by the crash.

Also, since I use Gmail for email (and not a local email application), none of my important emails or contacts were lost due to the crash.


Whew indeed. It’s been a crazy week, but once I got my replacement iMac, I had all the software I need to run my studio AND HSC installed and running in just a couple of hours.

What tips do you have? I’ll need 15 comments before I start posting again next week.

[Photo by youngthousands]