MISSION CRITICAL, WHEN BACKING UP MATTERS.
Normally my blogs posts are usually about recent, interesting outings that I had photographed. Or insights on certain photography subjects. This post will be more about what happens behind the scenes, the “backend” work of photography. Not the workflow, which is the process of editing photos, but more, the technical matters such as the equipment used.
In this case my computer that recently crashed, and the external hard drives that saved me from going insane, brought my laptop back to life and saved all of my photography work and documents.
My computer that I do all my work on is a 13 inch MacBook Pro equipped with a 500GB hard drive with 8GB of memory.
I don’t actually use a lot of different software for editing photos. I use Adobe Lightroom for all of my editing needs. I do have Apple’s Aperture that I hardly use, no sense in using Apple’s Aperture since Apple will no longer support it in the coming months. And I use ACDSee Mac Pro software for any quick edits in my photos metadata and for quick categorizing, if I need to make a quick change after I close Adobe Lightroom. But overall Lightroom can easily handle everything I need to get accomplished when processing and editing my photos.
I use Apple’s Time Machine for backing up all my files and photos on my MacBook Pro. I have to admit that I am extremely paranoid and I backup everything, all the time. I do backups with Time Machine multiple times a day. Actually by default Time Machine settings that are the following.
Local Snapshots as space permits.
Hourly backups for the past 24 hours.
Daily backups for the past month.
Weekly backups for all the pervious months.
And the final setting is the oldest backups are deleted when your disk (external) becomes full.
Time Machine does this all automatically, so I don’t have to worry about it, I just let it do what it needs to do.
I use a total of four (4) external hard drives for back up. “Yes… You read correctly, I did say four.” As I mentioned… I am extremely paranoid when it comes to backing up. Why four external drives you ask? My answer is simply one word. “Redundancy” the duplication of critical components (in this case my external hard drives) or functions of a system with the intention of increasing reliability.
Simply put… If one external backup hard drive randomly fails the second external drive will pick up the slack of the failed drive, and will continue to do so until the failed drive is replaced, and no data or files or photos will be lost in the backup process. Or if I have to travel someplace and I need to take my MacBook Pro. I will just take one of the backup drives with me and leave the others at home for safekeeping.
The four back up drives that I use is the following. I use an Iomega Prestige 500GB external hard drive as the “primary backup drive.”
For the record the company Iomega is no longer around, they were bought out my Lenovo. And they no longer make this drive. (I do have a recommendation for a dive that is similar, and better if you are shopping for an external drive. I will mention the replacement drive a little later in the post.) But in the years that I have had it, it still works very well and with no problems. Plus I do like the look, for the drive for it does match my MacBook Pro.
The second external hard drive that I use as the backup/mirror drive to the Iomega Prestige 500GB external hard drive is a LaCie 500GB rugged external drive.
I would actually recommend this drive as a replacement to my Iomega Prestige 500GB external hard drives if the drives fail. (This is the replacement drive that I mentioned earlier in the post.) Not only does it connect to a USB 2.0 and 3.0 connections. It also has a FireWire 800 connection. I use the FireWire 800 connection to attach it to my MacBook Pro. The FireWire connection is quick when transferring files. The Iomega Prestige only has a USB connection. I take this drive when I am traveling since it’s built rugged to withstand abuse while traveling. While leaving the other drives at home.
The Iomega Prestige 500GB and the LaCie 500GB rugged external drive are both plugged into my MacBook Pro at the same time via its USB and FireWire 800 ports. When Apple’s Time Machine backs up my files hourly it will back up to one drive first, say for example the Iomega Prestige 500GB. Then the second hour it will back up to the LaCie 500GB.
If the LaCie 500GB has the oldest dated/timed back up at lets say the start of my day and starting its first backup. Then Time Machine will backup to the LaCie drive first and then the Iomega drive the second hour of the day, and so on.
When multiple backup drives are available, Time Machine uses a basic rotation scheme. First, it checks for any backup drives that are connected to and mounted on your Mac. It then examines each drive to determine if there is a Time Machine backup present, and if so, when the backup was last performed.
With that information, Time Machine selects the drive to use for the next backup. If there are multiple drives but no backups on any of them, then Time Machine will select the first drive that was assigned as a Time Machine backup drive. If one or more of the drives contains a Time Machine backup, Time Machine will always pick the drive with the oldest backup.
My third drive that I connect to my MacBook Pro is my 1TB Seagate Goflex Portable drive.
This dive connects to my Thunderbolt port on my MacBook Pro. It contains all the files and photos that I want to save “when I archive off a copy” as a way to save space on my MacBook Pro laptop hard drive. It’s also good for when I need to review a past photography project or document that I had archived off that is no longer on my MacBook Pro.
My fourth and final drive is another Iomega Prestige 500GB external drive. That drive is not continuously plugged into my MacBook Pro. That drive only gets connected one a month and is allowed to do one full backup of my system and files. I call it “The Worse-Case Scenario” drive. What I mean by that is if my MacBook Pro crashes, and I am using either my Iomega or LaCie drives to restore my MacBook Pro and they suddenly fail for whatever reason. I have the Iomega Prestige “The Worse-Case Scenario” drive to reinstall everything.
Granted… I know what you are thinking at this moment. And that is… “What would you do if your Iomega Prestige “Worse-Case Scenario” drive fails?” If that does happen I would just have the hard drive wiped clean on the MacBook Pro. Take it to the Apple store (I’m currently still under warranty) and have them reinstall just my operating system. Which is currently OS X Mavericks 10.9.5. Then I would just manually move all the files that I need from my 1TB Seagate Goflex Portable drive that I used to archive all my files back into my MacBook Pro.
All of the above is what I use for my photography work, word processing and document creations and for updating and managing my website/photo blog. And of course casual web surfing and checking emails.
If you are wondering what exactly happened to my MacBook Pro and why it crashed, here’s what happened.
I was updating my MacBook Pro’s OS system via Apple’s App Store from OS X Mavericks 10.9.4 to 10.9.5. It was the recent security patches and updates that Apple had issued from the recent celebrity phone hack that affected a few famous people, as we all currently know.
As well along with my OS X Mavericks 10.9.5 update I had an update for OSX Server and X Code that I have and use on my MacBook Pro as well. That was to update was for OSX Server and X Code so that it can work effectively with Apple’s new iOS 8 and the new OS Yosemite that Apple is releasing soon.
Once I had updated OS X Mavericks, OSX Server and X Code. That’s when all hell broke loose. The next day when I turned on my computer, and I entered my password. My MacBook Pro refused to accept my password and had totally locked out my system. I called Apple and they were able to get my problem resolved over the phone. But it had come back the next day. So I had made an appointment for the Apple Genius Bar, and I took it in to have it looked at.
It was determined that I would have to wipe the drive clean and reinstall everything. My most recent and final backup before the crash was on my LaCie 500GB rugged external drive. I had brought it with me to the Genius Bar and had everything reinstalled to just before the updates. Once the system was reinstalled. (The reinstall process took three and a half hours to complete.) I then updated (again) OS X Mavericks, OSX Server and X Code.
Here’s where it gets interesting. It seems that the cause of the crash was from the programs OSX Server and X Code. Yes… They both have the newest updates, but there is a bug with both these programs. That causes OS X Mavericks to lock one out of their own laptop or desktop computer.
Hopefully Apple will address this and have a new update that will fix OSX Server and X Code bug. Until that happens I cannot use OSX Server and X Code. I don’t even dare to start any of the two programs until maybe the next patch/update.
Other than that issue, my MacBook Pro is working perfectly once again.
So if you never backed up your laptop or desktop, or thought you don’t need to do so. You now have a reason to it.