No Really, Be Serious About Backups

So, remember when my stuff started falling apart in October, and when I exhorted you to be serious about backups?  I had some SSL problems, so I’m late in telling you this one, but backups saved my bacon on my MacBook Air.

He got them fixed, but right now I’m freaking out.  I have Repair Disk running on my Time Capsule right now, and after that finishes overnight, I’ll run it on the external HDD to which I’ve been cloning my Air.  I pretty much have to have the Air running right now, because it’s my only computer and finals start the 2nd.

So, about that worry on filesystems: it turns out that the filesystem on my Air’s internal storage was crap.  You’ll see in that quote above that I had problems with Time Capsule; I didn’t worry about those as much as I worried about my external clone.  That didn’t have damage, but my internal storage did.  I booted to the clone and ran Repair Disk, which you can’t run on your boot drive while it’s running.

It was unable to repair the disk.

I had to FORMAT MY INTERNAL STORAGE and then clone from my clone.

I still get anxious just thinking about it.  It worked, though.  I didn’t lose any files, and once I’d restarted the machine with the freshly-cloned internal storage, things were just fine.  I haven’t had a single problem with it since.  For those who may wonder, was I seeing problems with the un-repaired filesystem?  It’s hard to say, although it would do stupid things every once in a while.  But staying with the filesystem in a known-bad state was a risk that I was not willing to take.  Once I knew that there was a problem, I had to fix it.

Your filesystem’s job is to know where the data is on your disk.  Just as it is important to back up your data, it’s also important to know that your computer knows where it is, for two reasons: 1) you need to be able to access the data and 2) you need to be able to back up that data.  If your filesystem stops doing its job flawlessly, you are on the road to being screwed.

Here are my next steps with this Air:

  1. I’m still backing it up by cloning, Time Machine, CrashPlan, and Arq/Amazon Glacier.
  2. I have a reminder in Sciral Consistency — I need to talk about my life-management solutions at some point — to make the clone every so often (3-5 days).
  3. I have a reminder in Sciral Consistency to boot from the clone every so often (4-6 weeks).
  4. I have a reminder in Sciral Consistency to run Repair Disk on all volumes associated with this computer (6-8 weeks).

Remember: because my iMac was down, I was left with this as my only machine.  When it started having problems, I was in a panic.  But when you have backups, it’s not a panic that overwhelms you.

6 thoughts on “No Really, Be Serious About Backups”

  1. The state of hfs+ is terrible. As I quipped elsewhere, its an 80s era file system trying to work with 2010s data needs.

    If you can, move your bulk, important data to something else with a better file system… Linux file server, freenas, or something else.


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