After finishing a brochure design for my client and hitting Command-S, I noticed something odd. Instead of saving to my iMac, my document saved to the bootable clone on my external backup drive. Curiosity turned to horror as I realized my Macintosh HD icon was gone from my desktop. Heart pounding, I texted Mike, my IT guy: “Need you now, wyd?”
“I’m here,” he responded. I exhaled. Thank God.
When I left my corporate advertising job to freelance full-time from my home near Philadelphia, I luxuriated in the freedom of being my own boss, but I quickly discovered that some needs can’t be satisfied solo. There’s nothing like the hands-on expertise of a pro who intimately knows the ins and outs of the technology I use.
I provide creative services and marketing consultation to hospitals, and my tech needs are fairly straightforward. My hardware doesn’t have to be the latest, but it must support current versions of the software I use and provide the RAM and storage I require as a graphic designer. I need both on-site and cloud-based backup systems, scheduled to run automatically. And I want a trusted resource for occasional troubleshooting and advice. I no longer have the safety net of an IT department to turn to. Instead, I have Mike.
After my urgent text, he sent me a link to download TeamViewer, software that allowed him remote access to my computer. Once he connected, he entered my backup drive which was mounted on my desktop. I watched breathlessly as he moved through my system and opened folders I rarely touch. His voice in my ear was gentle as he prompted me to enter my password. Moments later, my reverie was broken as Mike confirmed my fears. “You’ve been working from your bootable clone for the last three days,” he said. My hard drive was gone, my 27-inch iMac reduced, effectively, to a monitor.
The pandemic changed employment, forcing millions of people to pivot to working from home. According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, 21.8 percent of employed persons surveyed teleworked because of the coronavirus in November, up from 21.2 percent in October. These figures don’t include freelancers or employees already working remotely pre-pandemic.
Even if your setup is limited to a laptop, printer, and cloud backup account, the fact is, computers crash, apps freeze, and files go missing. If you work from home, having go-to tech support is valuable. When you are self-employed like me—it is vital. If I can’t work, I don’t get paid.
When my iMac died in July, Mike helped me order a new one, customizing the features to suit my personal needs. Because of the pandemic, Apple shipments were significantly delayed. I kept working in the meantime, thanks to the redundant backup systems he set me up with long before—something I’d never have known to do on my own.
Mike has been my IT guy for 20 years—a relationship second in length to my marriage of 30 years, and enthusiastically endorsed by my husband. Though I consider Mike mine, I’ve been willing to share him with my spouse on occasion.
We met at my last job. Mike worked for the IT company that served our art and advertising departments. After I left and started my home-based business, I called his company whenever I needed tech support, paying corporate rates for the comfort of his familiar face. Years later, when Mike went freelance, it was a no-brainer to go with him. His new hourly rate was less than half what I was paying previously, and more importantly, I depended on him. He was my guy.