Game Development Geek / Technical Marketing/Business

Indie Maintenance and Disaster Plans

My Dell Precision M90, which has been running like a champ for more than half a decade despite my cats’ attempts to get their fur clogged in its fans, is finally dying. I’ve been seeing graphical glitches for some time, but I’ve been able to continue working, and the glitches eventually go away. Except when they don’t. And recently, the machine won’t boot correctly.

Well this isn't a good sign. on Twitpic

The culprit seems to be a failing video card, which is way too expensive to replace. It’s frustrating since doing so would probably give this machine another few years of life.

I’ve been very happy with this machine, but it’s been slowly getting worse, and I realized that I had no plans for replacing it. So I’ve been either putting off the research so I can do the work I need to do, or I’ve been desperately trying to get the machine back up and running so I can continue to do that work, all the while knowing that I am going to need to spend some time (and money) on finding a replacement.

A large company probably has plans for this sort of thing, with IT departments bringing in spare equipment or ordering replacements. In fact, some companies have entire disaster preparedness plans in place. Replacing equipment quickly to ensure business continuity is just a part of such plans.

Since I purchased this laptop through Dell Small Business, I was able to get next-day on-site tech support that I only needed to take advantage of once towards the end of the extended warranty last year, and I was also able to replace the A/C adapter quickly after the cats chewed through the old cord a few years ago. Even knowing that the warranty was expiring, I didn’t really think through how I would continue to work without the laptop, which I should have realized was as inevitable as a hard drive dying.

And now that I think about it, perhaps the cats should worry about a replacement plan as well…

As an indie or solo entrepreneur, what do you do it? How prepared are you for equipment failure? Do you only start to worry about it the day your computer fails to boot, or do you anticipate the day your development equipment needs maintenance and replacement? Or do you constantly replace your machines with the latest and greatest and so don’t need to worry about longevity?

4 replies on “Indie Maintenance and Disaster Plans”

I have a backup PC under some storage boxes in the back bedroom. I got it from work when they threw out the old stock. It’s completely blank; I haven’t even got around to setting up windows or anything. I also have a very old laptop that only runs when plugged in to the wall. It’s slow but would be useful in a pinch.

My main home laptop is also my family laptop and is more used by my wife than by me but apart from the touch mouse being completely useless it’s the most powerful we have. It’s still pretty poop though and the embarrassingly large screen does make it less than portable.

Most of my indie dev happens at lunch and after hours at work. I only really make games for fun and practice not for profit. So, this arrangement works well for me.

I’d offer to loan you one of my backups but I think you’re like 5,000 miles off being local ;P

I ask nicely if they would apply my warranty to the last 2 years of the laptop’s life, rather than the first. They stare at me dumbly.

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