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!


Raj Aji 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.

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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