MacOS Backups

A hard disc failure at work (luckily the OS drive and not the data one), made me think a bit about backing up my MacOS drive in the PowerBook G4 I am using more and more. The most critical data on there, my photo collection, is backed up onto DVD and also (mostly) cloned on my Windows XP box. But there are an increasing number of little utility apps and documents that, while not going to be the end of the world to lose, would be annoying.

Hardware

So, while in Fry’s Electronics picking up a replacement drive for my work machine, I picked up a new Western Digital 250 GB drive kit (for $109 after the mail in rebate) I then picked up a Metal Gear Box (with a “light bar”) to put it in. This is a dual USB 2.0 and Firewire/IEEE1394 external IDE drive box, which meant in theory that I should have been able to use it on both my PowerBook and my Windows XP box.

Sadly, WinXP would not talk to the drive once a MacOS extended partition had been created on it. I could create a number of FAT32 & NTFS partitions which MacOS X would see, but they were not useful for my backup needs, so the drive has now become a backup drive and an external storage drive for the PowerBook – I’ll get another one for the WinXP system perhaps. None of that is the fault of the enclosure though – it works perfectly on both systems.

Software

While in Fry’s I had been debating getting one of the pre-assembled USB/Firewire drives because they came with backup software. In the end I went with the enclosure and drive because of the price (around half the price of the equivalent size pre-assembled drive units). Back home I found an excellent donation-ware backup solution for MacOS X: Carbon Copy Cloner. I have made a complete clone of my laptop’s internal HD onto the firewire drive, and then tried one sync operation to update it. All seems to be working well.

Recovery, if I ever need it, should be trivial too since the external drive is bootable; I just boot off of the external drive and sync back to the internal drive. Let’s hope I never have to test that theory though 🙂

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