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It’s not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.

This week, I did a boatload of work on my computer. I imported video, I wrote articles, I created lesson plans, worked on pet projects, you name it. The morning of my experience, I ended up going to bed about 4am.

I have set SuperDuper to automatically backup at 11:30pm, daily. Hopefully, by then, I’ve started my procession to bed. But not this night. When the backup started, I turned it off to not interfere with the video project I was working on. So, by 4am, it had slipped my mind that the daily backup hadn’t occured.

Yes, I have a Time Machine backup too, but again, importing video, so I turned it off too…

Well, while I was back to working diligently the following day, the missed backup not on my mind, my computer starting running dog slow. The spinning beach ball appeared at every cursor move and selection. What gives?

So I decided to restart. Whoa. To my surprise, I was greeted with a white screen that lasted far too long. Knowing “this can’t be good” I was forced to do a hard reboot. Three times I was again greeted with this screen.

Finally, rebooting from my SuperDuper backup of 2-days ago, I copied over from my internal drive files that I knew the backup didn’t have. Some wouldn’t copy. I’d tried to do a normal backup, but kept getting a “Disk Full” error from SuperDuper. So, I was left wondering “What will I lose?” I know, not much, but that video project was halfway completed. I cringed at having to do it over. I decided to just be grateful that that was my only worry.

While working from the backup drive, I repaired permissions, and ran the repair drive function on the internal drive, and I think this helped with what happened next.

I’ve had drives die before. And times before, I kept throwing procedures at them to get something copied before they completely died. This was no different. It took five times of me asking (pleading) SuperDuper to do just one more Smart Backup. The 5th time was the charm. A Smart Backup takes a fraction of the time a full backup would have. In the meantime, I contacted Dave Nanian, of ShirtPocket, to find out why SuperDuper was returning a “Disk Full” error on a drive with plenty of space. Sending me some helpful information, he surmised that the problem is caused by Lion OS returning this error for a drive that could be failing. He was correct.

Feeling much better, that I was able to do those immediate backups, I unplugged the laptop, headed over to the Somerset Apple Store (great people work there), got the hard drive diagnosed and ordered a new one.

When the new drive arrives, the restore from my SuperDuper or Time Machine backup drive will be pretty easy. SuperDuper and Time Machine are worth their weight in gold.

In the meantime, I am working from this failing drive, but running Time Machine every 15 minutes to keep my data ready for a restore to the new drive.

While waiting for my drive, I made one more backup decision. I created a bootable flash drive from the Lion OS install download from a few months ago. While doing so, I received an email that my replacement drive was in. The drive came in about 36 hours after it was ordered. The Apple Store policy was to load my new drive with Snow Leopard. Snow Leopard! Really! My drive had Lion on it.

Had it not been for that last decision to make that bootable Lion OS on the flash drive, my restore experience would not have been smooth. After restarting from the flash drive, it gave me the options I expected to see at startup. I selected “Restore from Time Machine Backup” and left the computer to do its thing. Four hours later, upon returning home, my drive was restored and waiting for me to pick up where I left off earlier today, only with a new drive.

I’m always surprised that even at the MacGroup Genius Table, we have to advise folks time and time again to backup their computers. If you care about your data and your time lost, it can’t be expressed enough. And, even if you miss a day, Backup!

Right Cal?  🙂


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3 Responses to Have you been listening to Cal?

  1. Thank you for your valuable and informative horror story.

  2. Chita says:

    Gordon, the beauty of this story is that it WASN’T a horror story.

    Because I back up.
    Yes, I was inconvenienced, but there is no convenient time for a drive to die.
    By backing up, I was able to retain data up to the point of unplugging my computer to take it for repair.

  3. Chita says:

    What I lucked out on was creating that Lion OS bootable flash drive.
    The new drive with Snow Leopard installed was not seeing my Time Machine or SuperDuper backup drives properly.