So it’s now Monday, and about 24 hours after I posted my note on my new backups and disk scheme. And I wrote that after I was mostly done setting things up and the backups were set up and running and etc.
And here we are, and I’m still trying to get Time Machine to finish the damn first backup of my disks. the data is all in there (working set size 300+ gigs), but for reasons it won’t tell me, it hasn’t decided to actually finish. It was busy purring to itself when I left for work, and here it is, busily purring to itself still.
And while I appreciate why Apple designs its stuff to not be scary to non-geeks, when things go sideways, it can be amazingly frustrating, because I have no real status info or way to figure out what it’s actually doing (or trying to do), other than watching the flashing lights on the disk and trying to decipher the insides of the .inProgress package, And that’s the occasional challenge with Apple stuff: when it works, it just works. When it breaks, it sees no purpose in helping you fix the problem. So now I’m in a quandary, do I leave it alone and see if it’ll finish? do I throw out 300 gigs of backed up (and useless) data and let it start fresh?
I compromised. I stopped it and rebooted (which I needed to do for other reasons) and restarted it. and it spent 10 minutes in “indexing backup” and is now in “backing up”, but not actually doing so and not telling me how much it thinks needs backing up. But the disk is really busy…
On the other hand, Superduper finished pretty quickly and so I have good backups, I just don’t have my versioned backups, so I’m not worried. This is the suspenders, not the belt.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball also happened to weigh in on this. He’s right, DiskWarrior is definitely something you want to have. Highly recommended. And one of the things “on my list”. He’s also right about “more copies” — you’ll notice I try to keep 3 or four copies of my key data in various places at all times, and I’m paranoid enough that I prefer some that do NOT update in real time but wait a week or so, in case there’s unfound errors that creep in. but you can buy terabyte disks for not much — $100 or less now. There’s really no excuse not to replace your drive mechanisms (there I go again!) every year or so on your high usage drives and to keep spare copies of everything. call it SneakerRAID if you want, mirroring by making copies and stuffing them in drawers and things.
He’s also right about Dropbox. It’s a nice alternative to MobileMe (and faster, and cheaper, and has VERSIONING). I have been using it for other things, but now that he mentions it, I can consolidate some stuff on a DropBox rather nicely and simplify my life in other places and save a couple of bucks I’m spending on a cloud storage thingie here and an online service there. That rocks. Not dropping MobileME, though. I like having multiple redundant email accounts in case one of them goes spung. Funny how when MobileMe came out everyone was all over it for its problems (justifiably so), but I’ve seen more gmail outages, and geeks seem to give Google a break on those. I’m Google-centric because their stuff works better with webOS for me, but it’s nice having a place I can jump to if for some reason I need to, so I don’t mind keeping two environments around, just in case…
Merlin Mann also chimes in, and he’s right on, too. Notice how Superduper keeps coming up? Because it works. and you can trust it. Trust is probably THE KEY metric for backups, folks. Not features, trust. (via ).
You’ll notice there are a few of us really, hopelessly, anal about backups. That’s because we’ve all been burnt by problems that happen when you don’t, or when you think you are and they aren’t working, or when they’re happening but corrupted. And we’re really, hopelessly, anal about it because we know YOU FOLKS aren’t doing it.
Bless Apple for making backups simple with Time Machine. So many fewer excuses to not do them for people now. If I were to recommend one thing to Apple now, it’s this. Disks are really cheap. Build a mirrored RAID into every computer, so a drive failure no longer screws someone’s data. Make TIME MACHINE less necessary through data redundancy. Even your laptops. hell, especially your laptops. It’s the next step here, we should take it.