Friday, January 4, 2008

Backup and recovery

Some time ago I wrote about backing up ones home computer. Since that post, I started down the path of developing a backup system: I bought an external hard drive. On our older computer, I even acquired some shareware backup software (Deja Vu for the Mac) and was backing up my home directory regularly. However, we then bought a new computer (a beautiful new iMac with a 24" monitor), and I stopped doing regular backups (my version of Deja Vu didn't run on the new Mac and I didn't upgrade).

That's when disaster struck... I was traveling for much of the last 3 weeks, and while I was gone the disk drive on the new Mac failed completely. AppleCare couldn't restore any data from the drive.

Fortunately, by a stroke of pure luck, I had backed up our main home directory (the one with our photographs) to the external drive the night before I left on the trip! Nothing fancy---I simply used the Finder's drag and drop functionality. So I was able to restore most of our data. Not all of it though: the morning of my trip I realized that my camera still had some photographs, so I downloaded them onto the computer and deleted them from the camera. Those photos were not backed up and we've lost them... :-( We also lost some documents created after my trip began, but nothing of much importance.

AppleCare put in a new drive for me, and I've been able to get the system back to the pre-failure state. But now I'm looking at a better backup system. Here's what I have in mind:
  • I'm probably going to use SuperDuper for backup. It's shareware that comes highly recommended.
  • I'm going to try and configure SuperDuper to do automatic backups. That way our data's safety won't depend on dumb luck!
  • I'm going to buy a portable drive, try and do a regular (weekly?) manual backup to it, and store it at work. That will protect against loss due to burglary.
Hope all this works. Do you have a reliable backup system? If not, you better do something. Apparently, disk drives do fail!

2 comments:

Rajesh said...

That must have been a huge relief to find your photographs on the backup drive. I hide my backup drive away from a computer when going out of town.
I use Superduper on one of my Macs and it works very well (although I have not had to boot my Mac from the backup yet).
However, I believe Leopard has backup software built in. You may just want to upgrade to Leopard if you don't have it already.
http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/timemachine.html

Pandu Nayak said...

Time Machine on Leopard seems nice. However, I'm going to wait a bit before upgrading to Leopard.

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