Backup Letdown

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by awrc, Aug 3, 2002.

  1. awrc macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2002
    Milwaukee, WI
    Well, I eventually concluded that maybe I did need the other stuff that came with .Mac and signed up.

    Now that I've got it, I've got mixed emotions. Virex is very nice, I'm much happier with a virus checker that runs only when you want it to, rather than the "your machine has been assimilated" impression I've got when I installed Norton and found out all the other stuff it had installed without asking.

    However, then there's Backup. Apple's little sum showing how much .Mac was really worth put a value of $50 on Backup. All I can say is that if it's worth $50, it's not US currency. It's not even Canadian.

    Let's start with the fact that I've yet to successfully complete even a single, small backup to my iDisk without it losing server connectivity. I've managed to backup to CD-R although it had problems with one or two files. However, examining the resulting CD-R appears to indicate that what Backup did was not so much backup data, as copy it. Maybe it reset an archive bit here and there.

    It doesn't appear to offer any form of incremental backup. Something like this would be invaluable for the iDisk backup mode, especially considering the reliability of iDisk connectivity. It'd be nice to have on CD-R too, whereby the disk showed only the most recent session. Better yet, it'd be nice if it made some attempt to compress the data.

    It'd be nice if it offered the option to backup to another hard drive. I've got 100GB of external disk in a Firewire enclosure, it'd be really nice to have backing up to that automatically every night done automatically.

    Then there's the Quickpicks. Nice idea, lousy execution. First, there's the problem with not being able to delete the Quickpicks you don't want or need, so the window is littered with Quickpick options to backup data for packages I don't own. Then there's the inability to create *new* Quickpicks - so I'm stuck with a Quickpick to backup data from Apple's own mail package, but unable to create a Quickpick to back up the data from the mail package that I actually use, Mailsmith.

    Oh, and then there's the crashing immediately on start. That's fun too.

    I really hope that Backup is one of the parts of .Mac that's going to see substantial improvement over time. As it stands, the program is a joke. Despite being labelled V1.0, this is barely even beta quality software. Maybe they're going to let people try to use it for a couple of years then, when it works, move it out of .Mac and sell it as a separate $200 product :rolleyes:

    In the meantime, Stuffit, tar and gzip/bzip2 remain my friends.

  2. Ensign Paris macrumors 68000

    Ensign Paris

    Nov 4, 2001
    Thats a shame, what kind of connection are you using? I have used the backup program but I have not really got into it, I probably will use it to backup to DVD-R or CD-R.

  3. sparkleytone macrumors 68020


    Oct 28, 2001
    Greensboro, NC
    well hopefully by this time next yr (when my free account expires) there will be enough added functionality to consider paying for the .Mac services. I really feel that .Mac right now is alot like OS X 10.0.x in that its basically a paid beta program which, after alot of feedback and tweaking, will end up being a great service.
  4. JINX macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Backup works great here

    I'm sorry to hear that backup isn't working well for you, but its working great for me. It backs up to my iDisk every night at 4:01am and I've only had one night where it glitched and didn't finish backing up. Its true that it doesn't do incremental backups, and copies instead, but it does only copy what's been updated, rather than copying everything from scratch each time.

    I've never wanted to deal with back-up software before and backup combined with .mac is so easy I couldn't skip it. I sleep better at night knowing my files are backed-up. Also, backing up to iDisk, I'm pretty sure I can then access all my critical files from any computer.

  5. awrc thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2002
    Milwaukee, WI
    I've got DSL - 768k down, 128k up. I suspect that at least some of my problems are due to trying to do it at peak time - I'd let it try it in the middle of the night except the machine's set up to sleep after an hour.

    I expect things will get much better after the end of September if Apple don't introduce some sort of ".Mac Lite" - there'll be a much lower load on the servers then :D
  6. zarathustra macrumors 6502a


    Jul 16, 2002
    Philadelphia, PA
    I thought the free service expired by the end of September and if you signed up now, you would get a $50 discount! Please tell me how I can have .Mac free for a year!
  7. awrc thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2002
    Milwaukee, WI
    If you'd already paid for additional disk space on your pre-.Mac iTools account, you automatically got an additional $49.95 discount, effectively making the discounted price $0.00.
  8. AlphaTech macrumors 601


    Oct 4, 2001
    Natick, MA
    Re: Backup works great here

    That would be a differential backup... :rolleyes: :p We do those every day at work (during the week) with a full backup over the weekend. Of course, that is only done on the servers, and the users are responsible for putting any files they want archived on the server before it kicks off a backup.
  9. awrc thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2002
    Milwaukee, WI
    Re: Backup works great here

    Really? If so I'm slightly less disappointed - not as nice as if it was only saving file deltas, but better than a straight copy. I've never seen it do that with mine though - possibly due to my copies not exactly having been reliable. On balance, it may even be better, given the way Backup seems to work and the whole "make it easy to use" approach to do things that way than deal with archive formats and all that.

    I really welcomed the introduction of it, I just found the execution lacking. I'm sure/hopeful that it will improve.

    The big problem with backups overall is that it's now been about four or five years since it was possible to buy a reliable tape backup device that would actually hold a full drive image without spending $$$. My wife got to buy an 80GB DLT drive for her department on Friday, I was drooling over it. Unfortunately, it was $1400.

    If disk drive capacity has been the overachiever in recent years (i.e. it's grown so fast most people just don't that much space), backup systems have been underachieving to the same extent.

    Of course, it probably doesn't help that they killed off a lot of that market themselves by putting out terrible product. I wasn't familiar with the Mac scene then, but in the late 90s I had a series of nasty experiences with tape drives that were so unreliable I gave up on them altogether.

    First there was the Iomega Ditto. 10GB capacity, if I remember correctly. Came with tiny little tapes about the size of dictation microcassettes. Connected to a standard PC floppy connector (or to a special ISA "accelerator" card). It was called a tape backup, but it would more accurately be described as an automatic tape despooling unit, because that was about all it did. Well, that and generating big log files full of "Write error" messages.

    Next, two generations of Travan. Both worked for a while, neither had a particularly great capacity, and they both managed to fail me on every occasion they were actually needed (i.e. if I lost a file it was a surefire thing that the previous night's backup had failed in some way).

    Finally, giving up on tapes, a SparQ cartridge drive. Damn, can't remember who made it now, used to be a big name in removable drives, now non-existent - ah, yeah, Syquest, that was it. Called the SparQ because it had a tendency to catch fire. Looked a bit like a fat floppy disk, held 1GB, sorta like a poor man's non-SCSI Jaz drive. I went through three (Syquest's primary business activity at this point was RMAing stuff). The rubber mounting brackets that were designed to reduce vibration and noise had a tendency to melt under the intense heat of the drive, glueing the cartridge into the drive. It also had something similar to the Zip "click of death" whereby a cartridge destroyed by a faulty drive could go on and destroy other drives in turn.

    So is there any really good backup mechanism out there, short of $1500 for a DLT?

    Or, alternatively, can someone more familiar with the powers of Applescript tell me if it's possible to control the system's sleep state from a script? Not actually making the system go to sleep there and then, but fiddling with the power saving settings to turn whether or not the system will even go to sleep on or off. I prefer to have my system sleep at night, but was thinking of something along the lines of a script that looked to see if it was "backup night" and if so turned off sleep so that a scheduled backup at 4am or whatever could take place, and another timed Applescript could mess with the power saving again afterwards to allow the system to go to sleep again.

    Also puzzles me why so few systems seem to have the ability to automatically wake from sleep on a timer. I know it's possible to do this on the most recent PowerBook and iBook, because the Backup documentation mentions they're the only machines where you can schedule Backup to run in the middle of the night and still leave sleep enabled. However, for such a useful feature, it seems extremely rare - my previous last encounter with it was on a Dell P90 in 1994 (and that was a BIOS setting to wake up/shut down the machine at specified times, rather than anything involving proper system sleep).

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