Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Backing Up - There's more to this!

I found out to my disgust that Time Machine on the Mac only backs up your main hard drive, not even a second internal drive according to the apple tech support person. It definitely doesn't back up external drives (upon sit most of my important images). Ouch! That makes it near worthless to me.

I checked with the Drobo people - they recommended Super Duper - as did my friend Bill. Only catch is, Super Duper can update changed files but does not do incremental backup - so if the file is corrupted and then backed up - too bad - if you want an older version before you stupidly shrunk the original file for the net (I have done this), then so sorry, it's gone - start all over with the raw file. As I spend hours editing images and sometimes haven't a clue what all I did in which sequence to an image, this is mighty frustrating.

I may be forced to purchase and use Retrospect - which does in fact handle multiple drives and incremental backups. The standard version isn't all that expensive at $129.


Sharon said...

I will second Super Duper! I have used it for a couple of years and it saved me when I had to erase and reinstall everything just last month. I have 5 external hard drives, some partitioned to back up my media files and iMac.

David said...

I create two kinds of backups: 1. a disk image backup in case of technical failure created by Super Duper and 2. a backup of my photos created by Apple's Backup which is kept separate from my computer in case of theft. I believe Retrospect does not work with Leopard but I could be wrong.

Ed Wolpov said...

George, I'm not sure who gave you this information, but Time Machine does back up your external hard drives (not sure about additional internal hard drives, though).

It seems that external drives are automatically put on the Exclude list. You need to open preferences and remove it from that list in order for it to be backed up. Time Machine backs up my external drives with out problem.


Howard said...

My only real backup need are my photos. I've looked into Drobo and asked myself why I'd want something with, say, four drives to only give me one copy of my stuff. I've looked into spending money on backup programs, like the ones you wrote about. But I finally decided that it made more sense to just do all of it myself. I have several hard drives that I back up my photos to each time I load them, plus I create DVDs. It might take me more time to do it myself rather than use some expensive auto backup program, but at least I have control over the process and it gives me as many copies as I want. Can't see anyone doing anything else?

Mike said...

George, Time Machine definitely does back up additional internal drives, unless they are on the exclude list. I found this out when TM backed up my scratch drives...


George Barr said...


1) I currently have just over 1 terabyte of files, most of which is images. There are no inexpensive 2 terabyte drives (and those simply put two ones in a single box anyway).

2) If I want incremental backups (so I can return to an old version of an image if need be - it happens - more often than I'd like) then I will need a lot more than 1 terabyte so whatever I do I'm looking at 3 or 4 one terabyte drives - it's a lot less mess behind the computer with a single box.

3) A failure of any one of those 3 - 4 drives will result in the loss of data - to be fair it's only backup data, but it's a problem none the less. By using a RAID or Drobo, I can stand the loss of any single drive anywhere on my system.

Expense wise, to pay for 3 or 4 external boxes would probably have been the same price as the drobo so arguably I got the redundancy for nothing.


George Barr said...

A progress note:

Time machine, having failed to complete the backups on two different attempts, I am now trying Retrospect, which so far appears to work fine with Leopard (and they say it does). It happily burbles away in the background and doesn't seem to cost me much in the way of computer speed so we shall see.

It was an apple tech who told me that Time Machine doesn't do drives other than the main one - I found it very hard to believe and from the comments above, sounds like he didn't know what he was talking about.

It will be interesting to see if Retrospect chokes too.

I did in fact do a disk repair analysis on all the drives and there were no problems so that isn't what caused Time Machine to choke.


Christoph Hammann said...

Some more (verified) info on TimeMachine: It doesn't use more space to save consecutive versions of files. In fact, the TimeMachine backup of my photo drive is taking up a bit *less* space than the files on the original drive itself. I will say, though, that I didn't have to restore from the TimeMachine backup, ...
... yet. A matter of time, surely.
Best regards, Christoph

Richard Earney said...

I use Chronosync to do nightly backups. Works a treat

Bahi said...

If you ever find out _why_ Time Machine is apparently failing to back up the work you have on external drives, it would make an interesting post. By design, Time Machine backs up all drives (internal and external) except those that you've told it to ignore in its preference pane. (You can tell it to ignore chosen files, folders or volumes.) It also performs incremental backups.

Those incrementals look like full backups because Time Machine uses hard links to its older backup folders to make it look as if it has backed up an entire volume every time and to make data restore easier. In reality, only new files and changed files are added to the backup archive.

Are you trying the backup when logged out? By default, Mac OS X (but not Mac OS X Server) unmounts external drives when you log out and Time Machine will then not run.

If this is the problem, you can change this behaviour: enter [sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/autodiskmount AutomountDisksWithoutUserLogin -bool true] (without the square brackets) into the Terminal and provide an admin password when required. (Swap "true" for "false" to reverse.) Or just remain logged in during a backup

Bahi said...

The html of my comment above is mangled (the command is treated as one long word and is being cut off) so it's safest to Google for "Allow Time Machine to run after logout", click on the macosxhints link that should be the top hit and then scroll down the comments to find the right command, beginning "sudo defaults write". Other pages supply it, too.