Backups Revisited

After more than two months running my backup system, it’s time to reevaluate the results.

I’ve been running Dantz Retrospect to backup all my files to one external firewire 250GB dual drive RAID. Up to this past week, everything seemed to be going smoothly.

Last Friday, Retrospect reported an error: “Disk Volume Full”. How can that be? I’m backing up data from two drives to this RAID that add up to approximately 55 GB. So I started digging around and I discovered a few problems.

Retrospect archives changes, deleted files, etc. Over time (not a long time), this space was used up. So, I looked into cleaning up the archives and filtering out files I didn’t care about. This turned into a pretty complicated procedure. In other words, I failed at figuring out how to do this.

Additionally, I discovered that one of the drives in the mirrored RAID and become corrupt. I would never have seen this, if the disks had not filled up and I not checked them in Apple’s Disk Utility application. Thankfully, it was easy to fix by simply having Disk Utility rebuild the corrupt drive. It took about three hours, but no data was lost and it was a 1-click procedure.

What did I take away from this? Two things, I need new backup software and being very paranoid, I need another backup RAID.

I decided upon ChronoSync from econ Technologies after some testing of several products. I chose ChronoSync primarily because of the interface. It was intuitive, easy to use, and had built-in email notifications of backup status with summary and errors (which Retrospect seems to lack). It also provides advanced file filters and update triggers that allow for a pretty customized backup solution. On top of that it can act as a synchronization tool between my G5 PowerMac and my PowerBook.

Now with two distinct external RAID systems, I can divide up my backups onto two targets so if one goes, I don’t lose everything. It also doubles my available disk space. Hopefully, this will last me a while.