Backup Roundup (part 5) - Update and Conclusions

Since writing the earlier parts of this mini-series, I discovered Mozy had managed to eat my backup entirely: had I lost any data in the last week or so and relied on Mozy to recover it, I would be in a whole world of data loss.

For the curious, here are the key log entries:

2009-01-03 12:01:45.387 MozyBackup[5632:4d0b] WRN (backup) Integrity check found problems in SQLiteManifestDatabase, attempting to recover

2009-01-03 12:01:45.388 MozyBackup[5632:4d0b] WRN (backup) —> * in database main *

Page 24250: unable to get the page. error code=266

On tree page 24183 cell 190: Child page depth differs

On tree page 24183 cell 191: Child page depth differs

After this point, Mozy proceeded to download a fresh ‘manifest’ from the server (nearly 200 Mb of it!) – then re-upload all my data, which has been underway for a week now and has over a week remaining (on a connection with 800kbps of upload capacity).

The PC version of Mozy has gained some UI features – in particular, a status indicator on each file (a green dot when the file is currently backed up, orange when it is awaiting backup), eliminating one distinction between it and Carbonite. No sign of this feature on the Mac yet, though.

The issue with Carbonite interfering with MSI software installations by accessing the temporary files (which seems to conflict with the locks Windows Installer needs) even though that folder is not set to be backed up remains a minor irritation – apparently Carbonite have a tool which applies some sort of workaround to prevent Carbonite accessing that area in the first place, but just remembering to suspend backups while installing new applications works fine. Unlike Mozy, suspending backups is a matter of two mouse clicks, with a third to resume backups once you’re finished. Usefully, if you forget to resume, this is done automatically after 24 hours.

Carbonite, on the other hand, is still going strong; Time Machine is also behaving itself perfectly, with the occasional check in Disk Utility to guard against the problem I had backing up over the network before. I’ll be replacing Mozy on my Mac as soon as Carbonite – or another product – is available. In the mean time, I have Time Machine as my backup solution and Mozy lurking there since I’ve paid for it for the time being.

I used Time Machine early in 2008 to migrate from one laptop to another: as soon as my new MacBook Pro arrived, I connected my USB backup drive and restored to the new system. All my settings, applications and everything else came across to the new machine in about an hour, without further intervention; as I recall, I had to reinstall or reactivate Adobe Creative Suite CS3 (presumably something to do with their licensing/activation system) and that was it. A bare-metal restore, to (slightly) different hardware, in an hour: backup doesn’t get much better than that! (There is some sort of transfer facility in Windows XP and Vista which I have used on occasion for similar purposes – nothing like as slick, however.)

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