The Northern Spy: Got your back up?
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The Northern Spy: Got your back up?

Got your back-up? The Spy has. Indeed, he is as much a back-up as a security paranoiac (refuses to connect to any network without interposing a firewall, for instance). He does not use the Documents folder on the boot partition.

Instead, his machines at work and at home each have a partition called "Files" where all working documents and email is stored (generally on a separate physical drive from the one with the boot partition). He carries about in his pocket a portable multi-interface drive, two of whose partitions are named FilesWork.bak and FilesHome.bak. The routine goes like this:

In the morning before leaving for the university, he backs up the Files partition at home to Files.bak. Upon reaching the ivory basement, he restores the latter to the Files partition on the machine there. When the day's work is done, he backs up to FilesWork.bak, and on reaching home, restores to the Files partition there.

A workable strategy? Yes, he rarely loses any files, though a couple of times items have become corrupt, this corruption has propagated, and he's had to restore a file from the automatic Time Machine backups done every hour at both ends independent of the above manual routine, and/or from the additional weekly backups done to a separately attached local drive (at each end, of course). Eight copies of everything? Are you nuts? Well, actually, he forgot to mention the quarterly backups of current writing projects to CD or DVD, and less frequent backups to a remote server. He's not lost more than one day's work (and that only twice) in two decades.

What he does not do is rely on the backup system provided by the university, by Apple through its services, or via any network or cloud facility other than within his own firewall. (A mix of security and backup concerns there.)

All this of course depends heavily on having reliable backup software--a utility that works one hundred percent correctly one hundred percent of the time. (Aside: in one of his stories, the social context employs base six, so instead of percentages uses persixties. Their backups are as essential as are those of the Spy's files in which they live out their fictional lives.)

Besides reliability, he wants the software to do incremental backups. After all, he has some 30 000 text files accumulated, some running to the multimegabyte range, and doesn't want the entire 4G backed up every time. (Pictures are elsewhere, BTW.) Moreover, he wants non-encrypted backups that can simply be mounted read by the finder. Finally, he prefers a universal app, because one of his machines is Intel, the other a G5 quad.

In the old OS 9 days, he got into using the Dantz backup software--very reliable, very easy to use. Naturally he eventually moved to their Retrospect under OS X, and has employed it, driven by a couple of scripts, for lo these six or more years. Indeed, speaking of the number six, he had stalled out on upgrades at version 6.1.230 for some time, preferring to follow the maxim "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", rather than "upgrade everything soonest to the latest and greatest."

But Retrospect 6 became broken, or at least annoying for some obscure reason that the Spy suspects had to do with permissions and ownership not being entirely in sync between home and work, and/or new considerations operating under the hood under 10.5.8 (recall he does not use 10.6 yet because Excel 2004 does not work there, and he needs it to run megabytes of macros that don't work in later Excels).

First, difficulties copying .DSStore files arose. Retrospect would complain that the copy could not be verified and cite from one to forty of these files as the culprits. Second, even though he was only modifying an average of three hundred files a day, Retrospect insisted on backing up about 1300-1400 at each session. Immediately doing the backup a second time might cut it to 1100 or so (most of the day's work not copying on the second pass), but there was no way to get it much below that, and the number seemed to grow slowly but steadily. Attending to the consistency of permission, ownership, etc at the OS level made no difference. Neither did erasing the backup partitions and creating a clean copy. Close attention to the process revealed that the same files, some quite large, and none recently modified, were being copied at every session. Since the Spy didn't want to wear out their bits, it was obviously time to try something new.

His first crack at a replacement was the shareware Carbon Copy Cloner from Bombich Software. This program's advertised intention is to clone a drive--usually one uses it to copy a boot drive for installation purposes. When it first was available, some backup programs didn't properly copy ownership and permissions, meaning that an alleged copy of a boot partition might not in fact boot, and if it did, the user files would be, well, unusable. CCC was the solution to this problem, and the Spy has both used it and recommends it for its stated purpose.

However, though CCC does do plain and incremental copies, it proceeds by renaming the target disk to SourceDisk.bak, makes the copy, then renames the target back to what it was before. There is probably a reason for this, but the only sign of a failed backup (and they do happen about one time in ten with CCC) is a target with the wrong name. Fail to notice, and you arrive at work with a bad backup. Not nice. However, as long as you check the name of the target disk when the clone job is finished, and it seems correct, CCC is a good program for the job--it just isn't very convenient for regular, routine backups.

So, he bit the biscuit and paid the upgrade fee to EMC for what is now called Roxio Retrospect, and has reached version eight (seven if you are on W*nd*ws).

This new version has a much more complex (busier) multi-paned interface than version six, and many more options than its older sister. One can do a backup, and later locate that task recorded under the Scripts sub-window, then repeat it any number of times on subsequent occasions. This is good, one supposes, but the success or failure of the last run script can only be determined by moving to and checking the activity sub window. Overall, this makes the new version harder to use, not easier. Moreover, it quickly became evident that version eight was no faster than version six, and that its algorithm for deciding what it needed to copy was unchanged. It still insisted on moving a minimum of 1100 files every time, even though they had not been modified.

In the middle of this rather disappointing test, the Spy was contacted by Richard Krueger of Siber Systems. Would the Spy be interested in testing for review the backup program GoodSync, newly released for the Mac? Well. Talk about timing. So, he accepted a copy and key to run it, and thank very much for the opportunity.

GoodSync does manual incremental backups (the only kind thoroughly tested; it can also do timed automatic ones) in two phases--first one clicks "Analyze", then, after viewing the resulting analysis of the differences between source and target, clicks "Sync". Note that this latter can be set as either one way or two way synchronization (see the program's name), and the analysis panel will show which way the copying has to be done (file-by-file) to achieve equality between the two folders (partitions in his case).

First impressions were a little sketchy. It was hard to tell from the panes which was the source and which the destination for a one-way sync, especially since the help file seemed to have it backward. However, the green arrows beside the files that were not equal settled this issue, as they all pointed the same way. Second, although the program appeared to work the first few times, it also had a residual 300 files that it also felt the need to copy on every session. Third, after a few sessions, it stopped working properly--stating that there were failures to make copies of some 60 files, but with no hint as to why. Initially, the only fix for the latter problem was to do a Retrospect backup, then a GoodSync backup. Between the two everything got copied. Boo. Fourth, the PowerPC is not supported, though that information was not at all obvious on the company's web site. (The Spy eventually found it in the fine print on one page, but only after scouring the site several times.)

But after a time, all was resolved. The first difficulty was just a matter of getting used to the display panes, which are less busy than those of Retrospect 8's, and in the end easier to understand, even if a little off-putting to a beginner. The second was resolved by GoodSync's own analysis displays. It turned out that the files causing the difficulties all fit into the category of cache, finder/spotlight information, or trash. Disabling copying on these folders solved the redundant copying problem for good. On the third issue, passing the difficulty on to Richard Krueger (good first name, that) resulted in him producing a new version that fixed the problem. So Good Sync works, copies all that's needed, and does what he wants (it also does more, but those other functions were only lightly tested. No other bugs surfaced on the run-throughs of other program functionality, though. On the fourth item, well, you can't have everything. Krueger said he would modify the website to make more obvious the information that the program was Intel-only .

So, what's the bottom line? The Spy cannot recommend CCC for routine backups, just for the original purpose of making a clone of a boot partition. Check the result before you use it. But it is shareware. If it doesn't do what you want, chuck it and don't pay.

Retrospect 8 is now his default program on the PowerPC, but definitely came in second in the comparison, for its interface, its speed, and its inability to provide either sufficient information or the means to solve the redundant copying problem.

GoodSync, despite having two phases, is fast--considerably faster than Retrospect--largely because it does not close every file on the disk after doing its analysis and copy. Moreover, both the analysis and the actual copy/sync after the analysis is finished are among the fastest he has ever seen, much faster than Restrospect. GoodSync also provides more useful information about the reasons why some things are not going to copy (though the Spy could use more detail). If the code were universal, he'd use it all the time. Indeedhen the time comes to replace the PowerPC G5 quad tower with one of the new 8+core Intel desktops rumoured about to be announced, he will switch entirely to GoodSync. If it works the same way on a PC, our reader should use it there, too. Highly recommended.

Another quarter, another $15.7B

Apple recently announced third quarter results that exceeded all analysts' expectation, some by more than $1B. This represented a 78% increase in net income, and record sales in all categories except for iPods, which declined somewhat on dramatic early movements of the iPad and iPhone 4. Guidance for the next quarter suggests $18B, but this is obviously a lowball estimate, and analysts are already forecasting a higher figure. The Spy will go out on a limb and suggest $19B+.

An even bigger shocker to the Spy was the $16.07B revenue figure posted by MS a few days later, exceeding his estimates by some $700M, and keeping the revenue gap in Redmond's favour for one more quarter. (The originally submitted version of this month's column confidently pegged the gap the other way by $400M.) However, the Spy sticks to his long term view and projections. MS used to be important, but has since lost touch with its customers, is out of ideas, and is headed for decline. Expect the revenue gap to reverse, then, barring any missteps, to grow in Apple's favour by several billion, even to see the Apple profit figure (a larger gap because the business models are not comparable, one being both hardware and software) surpass that of MS within three quarters at the most.

There are at this point no indicators to suggest a relative reversal in the two companies' trajectories in the foreseeable future. Look out MS; a cusp is coming. Look out MS senior executives. Your board cannot tolerate the lack of leadership much longer. But, the current growth at MS may say less about the company itself and more about the strength of the U.S. economy as a whole, thus bode well for the immediate prospects of the Dow and TSE.

As noted here last month, the antenna problems of the iPhone are relatively minor, and easily fixed. Oh, the misstep may cost Apple a few hundred million, but the mindshare cost will be negligible, particularly if, as suggested in the quarterly report, there are new product intros coming soon to make people forget. Expect a free fix, and a rev of the model, likely with a non-conductive plastic coating added.

Has anybody else noticed a decline in the relative amount of spam this last year? Some twelve months ago, more than 80% of the mail arriving at the WebNameHost server was tagged as "High Spam" and rejected without being passed to customers' accounts. Another 15% was tagged "Low Spam" and passed on, but almost all of that was indeed spam. For the Spy's own numerous mail accounts, more than 75% of what did make it past the server filters was tossed into junk mail by Eudora's filters. Thus, of some 3000 "messages" presented for him to the server, he actually read about 150, and a good half of those were spam, too.

Today, the server is rejecting just over a third of the mail, Eudora half the rest. The proportion of spam in what makes it to his eyeballs is still about half. Much better, but not good enough. The Spy would like to see heavy fines levied on junk e-mail, say $1 per unsolicited message sent to persons with no prior business or personal relationship. This would not affect low-volume legitimate enquiries, but would eliminate the high volume spammers. Further, in his opinion, purloining data bases to acquire addresses, refusing to remove an addressee from a list when requested, or sending any kind of abusive, harassing, or threatening mail, should all be criminalized, as they have indeed been in some jurisdictions.

Sorry fella, but my right to refuse listening to your bullying rant, your hate, your scam, your fraudulent rich quick scheme, or your pitch for shoddy or counterfeit goods, always trumps your imagined right to abuse free speech in order to make you feel good or to line your pocket at my expense. What if your criticism is correct or your product is worthwhile? Pressing it on me unsolicited is gauche, should be illegal, and guarantees I will not agree/buy. If you can't get a life, you ought to be sentenced to one.

It's goodbye to MacCompanion this month, as it ceases publication, and has its archives folded in to the AppleCentral and other sites run by Xplain Corporation. The Spy has enjoyed his few years' association with MacCompanion, and regrets it's demise. The publication will be missed. He looks forward to adding XPlain and one or more of its various publications to the list of those syndicating the column and/or its headlines. After all, he has every issue of MacTech magazine (and its predecessor) ever published. Links to come next month.

--The Northern Spy

Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor and chair of Computing Science and Mathematics as well as Senate Chair at Trinity Western University. He is also on the board of CIRA, operator of .ca. He's written two textbooks and several novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he's a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to ArjayBB.com. Participate and you could win free web hosting from the WebNameHost.net subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe's fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon's Booksurge.

URLs
The Northern Spy Home Page: http://www.TheNorthernSpy.com
The Spy's Laws collected: http://www.thenorthernspy.com/spyslaws.htm
The Spy's Shareware download site: http://downloads.thenorthernspy.com/

 
AAPL
$94.72
Apple Inc.
+0.78
MSFT
$44.83
Microsoft Corpora
-0.01
GOOG
$594.74
Google Inc.
+5.27

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Airmail 1.4 - Powerful, minimal email cl...
Airmail is a powerful, minimal mail client.It was designed to retain the same experience with a single or multiple accounts and provide a quick, modern and easy-to-use user experience. Airmail... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.1.12 - Monitor and co...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.37 - File, phot...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.9 - Fo...
MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update is recommended for MacBook Air (Mid 2011) models. This update addresses an issue where systems may take longer to wake from sleep than expected and fixes a rare issue... Read more
FileZilla 3.9.0.1 - Fast and reliable FT...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface.Version 3.9.0.1: MSW: Fix installation issue with locked DLLs... Read more
OS X Yosemite 10.10 DP4 - Developer Prev...
Note: This is a Developer Preview. You must be a registered Apple Mac Developer to download this update. OS X Yosemite is Apple's newest operating system for Mac. An elegant design that feels... Read more
FinderPop 2.5.6 - Classic Mac utility, n...
FinderPop is a Universal preference pane that extends OS X's contextual menus using a FinderPop Items folder much as the Apple Menu Items folder used to do for the Apple menu. It has other features... Read more
SpiderOak 5.1.7 - Secure cloud backup, s...
SpiderOak is a multi-platform secure online backup, storage, access, and sharing solution engineered for the consumer and small businesses. You must first sign up to use SpiderOak. Running natively... Read more
Espionage 3.6 - Simple, state of the art...
Espionage offers state-of-the-art encryption and plausible deniability for your confidential data. Sometimes, encrypting your data isn't enough to protect it. That's why Espionage 3 goes beyond data... Read more
calibre 1.45.0 - Complete e-library mana...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Celebrate Summer With a Cat in the Hat L...
Celebrate Summer With a Cat in the Hat Learning Library Sale Posted by Ellis Spice on July 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
MyTaskList Review
MyTaskList Review By Jennifer Allen on July 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: EFFECTIVE IF PLAINUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad It’s not the most stylish of task management apps, but MyTaskList has all the features you could... | Read more »
FlyCraft Herbie: Crazy Machines Review
FlyCraft Herbie: Crazy Machines Review By Jennifer Allen on July 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: TRICKY FLYINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A tough game of careful thrusting and navigation, FlyCraft Herbie: Crazy Machines... | Read more »
MTN Review
MTN Review By Jessica Fisher on July 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: ADORABLE, SERENE, AND AMUSINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad MTN is an adorable, talking pet mountain that is less game and more zen garden.   | Read more »
Fly High with Ninja UP! Now Available o...
Fly High with Ninja UP! Now Available on the App Store Posted by Jessica Fisher on July 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Bio Inc. Review
Bio Inc. Review By Nadia Oxford on July 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: SICKENING - IN A COMPELLING WAYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Bio Inc is about orchestrating the medical destruction of a single person. If that doesn’... | Read more »
HELMUT Review
HELMUT Review By Andrew Fisher on July 21st, 2014 Our Rating: :: TRUNDLE SIMULATOR 2014Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad HELMUT is a fun, fleeting time-sink that offers a momentary distraction and nothing else.   | Read more »
Walkr Review
Walkr Review By Jennifer Allen on July 21st, 2014 Our Rating: :: ORIGINAL WALKINGiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Walking is a bit more exciting thanks to this planet building/discovering sim reliant... | Read more »
Zombie Commando Review
Zombie Commando Review By Jennifer Allen on July 21st, 2014 Our Rating: :: MINDLESS SLAUGHTERUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Briefly fun but ultimately forgettable, Zombie Commando will scratch an itch then be... | Read more »
Swords & Poker Adventures Review
Swords & Poker Adventures Review By Jennifer Allen on July 21st, 2014 Our Rating: :: SOULLESS POKER PLAYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Swords & Poker Adventures is a mishmash of Poker and RPGing, but it lacks... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

15-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Retina on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1829 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $170 off MSRP. B&H will also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis for up t...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished Mac minis for up to $150 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 2.5GHz Mac... Read more
Twelve South HiRise For MacBook – Height-Adju...
If you use your MacBook as a workhorse desktop substitute, as many of us do, a laptop stand combined with an external keyboard and pointing device are pretty much obligatory if you want to avoid... Read more
Why The Mac Was Not Included In The Apple/IBM...
TUAW’s Yoni Heisler cites Fredrick Paul of Network World whoi blogged last week that the Mac’s conspicuous absence from Apple and IBM’s landmark partnership agreement represents a huge squandered... Read more
Save $100 on 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros, plu...
Adorama has 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: - 13″ 2.4GHz/128GB MacBook Pro with Retina Display: $1199 - 13″ 2.... Read more
Blurr it 2.3 for iOS – Quickly Blurs Selected...
Hyderabad, India based TouchLabs has announced a new update of Blurr it 2.3, their photography app for iOS users. Blurr it allows you to blur part of the image to hide potentially sensitive or... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP, start...
Best Buy has the new 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP on their online store. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Prices valid for online orders only... Read more
Amazon Announces Kindle Unlimited: Unlimited...
Amazon.com has introduced Kindle Unlimited — a new subscription service which allows customers to freely read as much as they want from over 600,000 Kindle books, and listen as much as they want to... Read more
New Linksys Wireless Range Extenders Boost Wi...
Linksys has announced its new lineup of Linksys Wi-Fi Range Extenders. Consumers often experience a weak wireless signal in some parts of their house or apartment caused by blocking elements such as... Read more
MacBook Airs available starting at $719
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2013 & 2012 MacBook Airs in stock today starting at $719. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: 2013... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Sr *Apple* Engineer - IT - Requisition #: -...
For more information about TIAA-CREF, visit our website . The Apple Engineer will provide engineering and third-level incident support for 300- 500 MacOS desktop/laptop Read more
*Apple* Systems Administrator - DISH (United...
…satellite service provider, and Dish is currently looking for an experienced Apple /Mac Systems Administrator. Apple systems administrator will be responsible for Read more
*Apple* Systems Administrator - DISH (United...
…satellite service provider, and Dish is currently looking for an experienced Apple /Mac Systems Administrator. Apple systems administrator will be responsible for Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.