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The Indefinite Article.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Adventures in backing up

Over the last few days, I've had an adventure backing up and restoring my little sister's iBook. It is a computer that I gave to her but didn't completely clean up before I gave it to her. As a result, it had two disk partitions. A 30 gig standard Macintosh partition that was the boot disk and one 10 gig Unix File System (UFS) partition, which she didn't and couldn't really use. As an additional complication, her Firewire port quit, meaning that I had to back up everything over the network, which took a really long time.

This is written as a starter guide for us to all get on a backup schedule and to understand what to do if you ever have to restore.

First off, you have to identify some storage device that can hold all of your stuff. I picked an external hard drive because it was a cheap and flexible. There are caveats to backing up to a hard drive but it is better than nothing.

Second, you need software that will do the backup. I selected Carbon Copy Cloner for the backup because it is widely used and free (donation-ware). Carbon Copy Cloner makes a clone of your hard drive to a disk image. Apple's Disk Utility can use the resulting disk image file to restore the back up onto the disk where you want it.

However, the hitch is that you have to be able to start your computer from a drive other than the one you are restoring to. Unlike with older Macintosh operating systems, you cannot use the Mac OS X installation disk as a boot disk to do a software restore. To get around this, I used BootCD to create a CD that the computer can start up from and restore the hard drive from the backup disk image created by Carbon Copy Cloner.


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