Many people have tools once essential for work that later enhanced their personal lives. I need competence in disaster recovery solutions. I need that same knowledge at home with my audio/video productions and trying new open-source software solutions. Here are 6 tools that aid my personal disaster recovery:

Hard Drive Caddy

I’m primarily a Linux and free open source software (FOSS) user, but I have some important Windows programs I’ve given up trying to configure with Wine or Crossover compatibility layers – for now.

Instead of a Virtualbox virtual machine, I boot a mounted hard drive caddy with Windows installed replacing my laptop DVD drive. It’s $20 (assuming you have a spare HDD or SSD), takes seconds to install, and only needs the computer to be powered off to swap. It’s also easier to manage than a dual-boot, or multiple operating system (OS), drive.

USB-to-SATA Cable

For those with no need to mount another HDD often, there’s the USB-SATA adapter cable.

Like the hard drive caddy, this cable converts any HDD into an external drive within seconds. Unlike the caddy, an USB-SATA cable is hot-swappable, making it faster for local backups and recovering data from a computer drive that no longer boots its OS.

USB 3.0 versions require one USB port while USB 2.0 requires two. I prefer one with a case like the Ineo I-NA216U2PLUS 31f60 to secure the cable and HDD. If you work with 3.5 inch drives, I recommend a StarTech docking station.

Uninterruptible Power Supply

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is an investment for protecting important equipment, e.g. desktop computer, studio monitors, network attached storage (NAS).

When I lose power, my UPS allows me to work over an hour longer before powering hardware down properly. The average student may not need one, but those with valuable tech lacking a battery source should consider one.

I prefer APC but CyberPower is also reputable. Cost varies from $50 to over $300 depending on available outlets, battery capacity, configuration software, and other features. As a teen, a $100 Furman power conditioner – rack-mountable UPS for audio equipment – powered my home studio for fifteen minutes.

Replacing a battery every few years beats restoring backups or replacing fried equipment any day.

Ultimate Boot CD

I saw a lot of Mac Books at SU, and one System76, which means you probably go to the Apple shop for computer issues.

For those that like to fix their own PC issues, there’s Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD) – free to download. I use this bootable CD mostly to recover data from and wipe HDD’s before installing a new Linux distro (OS) – Ubuntu Studio being my favorite. It’s also useful for BIOS, memory, and other advanced computer diagnostics.

Cable Dawg

The Gerber Cable Dawg is for the field techs maintaining routers down to the end user, running cable and replacing hardware parts. The multi-tool can splice multiple sizes of cable, crimp ethernet cables, and screw different sizes with included drivers. The Gerber reputation speaks for its durability, but the $200+ cost may not equate to the value of multiple cheaper tools for those that don’t require such portability.

Comfortable Keyboard and Mouse

I’m cheating here, but this is important for better health. Unless you’re using voice commands all the time, your wrists need to be comfortable while you code, design, or write that next piece to enhance your personal brand and community.

Get, or make, a comfortable keyboard wrist rest and mousepad with wrist support. Flatten the keyboard pegs or buy a slimmer keyboard to reduce wrist flexion and joint deterioration.

Seriously consider how to make your setup more comfortable. It’s not just a waste of money for elders. It’s investing in your body’s longevity so you’re not too dependent on fish oil and glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM too early in life for joint health.

What tools do you think are staple to the IT specialist’s kit?