Back It Up!

Hey, what are you doing right now? Oh yeah, that sounds like fun. Cool, cool. Guess what you should do, right now … Log off, and back up your computer. A full, complete, bootable backup.

mbpSo there I am, cruising the net, having myself a little Saturday night zone out, recovering from a week at the folks place, just dorking around online, and suddenly, my hip little MacBookPro freezes. Like a dear in headlights. Like a bottle of White Zinfandel that you stuck in the freezer to chill, and it turned to wine slushie. Like Hammer Time. Frozen. I do all the tricks. I wait 2 minutes. I ask it nicely. I promise to buy it a cool new blue-tooth mouse if it will unfreeze for me. Nothing works. So, I go to the old fall-back. I press and hold the power button for 5 seconds. It shuts down, and I wait a few seconds, then power it back up.

Grey screen

Apple logo

Scary looking question mark

The hard drive has gone to hard drive heaven, where it sits on white clouds and mocks me, flinging bits of my valuable data over the side at passing motorists, just to see their reaction. I hate you, dead hard drive. I hate you so much.

My last backup is 4 weeks old. I normally rip one every week on my laptop, and every night on my studio computer, but some logistical hurdles got in the way, and I hadn’t kept up with my backups. What’s happened in the intervening 4 weeks?

I wrote a bunch of music for Christmas. I did my final semester grades for all of my students. I wrote 3 extensive project critiques for some independent study students. I revised all of my syllabi, and designed a new course plan for one of my classes. I did 4 weeks worth of work, all gone to hard drive heaven, being flung over the railing in neat little 8bit chunks.

macbook dumped
photo by *nathan

So, I here present to you, the faithful readers, a public service announcement. If you own a mac, doing a weekly (or nightly!) backup couldn’t be easier. First, buy a super cheap external hard drive. Something like this $100 LaCie 250 GB would work fine. Plug it in to your computer.

Download and install a little program called SuperDuper. Here’s what it does – it takes your computer’s internal harddrive, and it turns the new external drive that you bought into an exact clone of the original drive. superduperWhy is this important? Well, if your hard drive on your computer crashes, you can bring that handy little external drive to any mac, anywhere, plug it in, and boot from it. You’ll now be staring your own computer squarely in the face, down to the creepy picture of Jessica Alba that you use as wallpaper, Bobby. Keep working like normal, using the backup harddrive, and when your computer gets fixed, you can use SuperDuper to clone your backup back over to your main computer.

Sound simple? It is! Sounds like something that might pull your butt out of the fire if things go all hinky? It is!

I’m declaring January 2nd “Neo-National Cross-Platform Data Backup Day Extravaganza!” here at Addison Road. Now go back up your data!

28 thoughts on “Back It Up!

  1. corey

    super-duper isn’t happy with 10.4.8 just yet. It usually crashes in the middle of the night for me. The folks at Shirt Pocket have yet to come up with a fix. FYI.

  2. tammi

    oh man, that blows.

    As a photographer, a hard drive crash is my biggest fear. That really, really blows.

    hi. i lurk.

  3. Sharolyn

    Mike, I am so sorry. This truly sucks. Compassion oozes through the internet tubes from me to you.

    Something similar, but not as drastic, happened to us a few years ago. Since then, my resourceful hubby and the way over-qualified guy at Fry’s Electronics saved the old hard drive. It is funny to see the things we had on there – the church events that are a faint memory, newsletters I wrote to parents at school, what our personal finances were doing, etc.

    Is there any chance of recovery?

  4. Sharolyn

    I always say, Down with the Christmas tree, up with the Neo-National Cross-Platform Data Backup Day decorations.

  5. Morphea

    Oh, Michael, I’m so so so sorry. And here I thought all Macs were above/beyond/over crashes. You know, like the cute boy in the Mac vs. PC-with-a-virus commercial…

    [eyes her own MacPro suspiciously]


    P.S. Hi, Tammi. Everyone here wishes I lurked.

  6. Sharolyn

    I smell a song title.

    Your fingernail, your favorite mug
    Your MacBookPro, roll your eyes and shrug

    Everything breaks.
    Ooooh, eeevvery-thiiiing!

  7. Karen

    Bobby has a free data recovery program he has used with great success… not sure how it works on a mac drive, but it might be worth a shot. And he changed out that wallpaper long ago with a picture of the space shuttle.

  8. Tinc

    A sad way to begin a new year. I splurged on a back up external drive last month, figuring I’d skated crash free long enough.

    Murphy would say that such a purchase pretty much guarantees that my regular drives will never crash now.

    I’ve never like Murphy. He’s right too often.

  9. Jeremy

    wow…that sucks. In all of my days of computer ownership (which is way way too many and way too many computers)I have only had one hard drive fail and it wasn’t a system drive. Basically full of old data and “evaluation” copies of software that i could live without.

    Must be because I’ve never owned a Mac. zinger!

    Making my backup now…

  10. Stick

    Yeah, I’ve had drives die, of course, but this last month was the first time I’ve ever lost anything of value. Fortunately, the record will be helped by having to recut all the vocals. And Chad’s got a backup of the stuff Erica did for me.

  11. Daniel

    good plan, Mike. I have one of those nifty LaCie hard drives already, and it’s great. I’ll back up more often…

    also–I’ve heard of a student service that backs up nightly if your computer is plugged into the net and on over night. I forget who it’s through…

  12. E. Skiles

    I used PowerbookResQ when my laptop drive went kerplunk. I had them upgrade the harddrive at the same time, and they fixed my original drive and put it in an external enclosure. Looks like you’ll have to use Best of luck getting back some of that data. Time to visit Lacie now.

  13. michael lee Post author

    Actually, this is the time when I really appreciate having a company laptop. I just dropped it off yesterday with the IT guys, they gave me a brand spanking new loaner, and in the meantime, they’re ripping the drive apart to lift the data directly off the platters. When they finish, they’ll load it up for me, and I’m back in the game.

    Sure beats hanging around at the Apple Store Genius Bar picking your nose while you wait for your name to pop up on the plasma screen.

  14. E. Skiles

    Wow, thats intense data recovery. Hopefully they can get it all.

    That also beats using a PentiumII 300Mhz linux box while your laptop is getting repaired.

  15. michael lee Post author

    Oh man, I pickup up a P4 2GHz with Windows XP installed for $50 at auction, split the drive, loaded up Debian, and made myself a nifty little home media server. It’s very fun. Every few days I get bored, so I blow it up and install a different flavor of linux.

    I … am such … a nerd.

  16. june

    Nerdish maybe, but not a total and complete nerd.

    (Nerdish is a favorite word…say it over and over and over…like I do when Brian asks if his clothes are “ok.”)

  17. Paul

    So glad to hear you may be able to get back some (all?) of what was on that drive. Since all of my output is text, I can backup many hundreds of pages of stuff on my trusty 1 gig memory stick, which I carry in my pocket at all times. Talk about nerdification, but nothing riles me like losing even a sentence or two of newly written material if Word suddenly decides to close itself. (“Do you want to send a report?” it asks. “Report this, you #$@#%!!!” is my typical calm response.) I can’t imagine losing two weeks of output.

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  20. aly hawkins

    [quote comment="115980"]They are having good tools for platter exchange and read write exchange tools.[/quote]

    Poor use of the continuous aspect, dude.

    Why does grammar functionality seem to diminish in direct proportion to code geekery?

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