Monday, July 23, 2012

My Documents Are Backed up Off-site

Backing up files

After setting up the off-site backup service I chose (see previous blog), and testing it a bit, I decided it was time to get serious.  If this solution was going to work for me, it had to at least handle all the files I had in my Documents folder.

When I did a "Get Info" (Command-I) on my Documents folder, it said that I had a little over 30 GB in the folder.


My favorite program for backing up files, outside of the scheduled Time Machine backup, is FoldersSynchronizer by softoBe.  I have used this program for years whenever I wanted to back up an entire folder of files to an external location.  I never have used it for trying to synchronize files.  

As indicated in the previous blog, there are two major ways of getting to your files on the off-site location.  One is to access them through an FTP program.  The other is to get to them by opening the Network Drive using the Finder.

So I started by trying to use FolderSynchronizer to copy all the files in my Documents folder to a Documents folder which I created in my area on  Online Storage Solution (OLS-CS).  I went to the "Go" menu of the Finder, then "Connect to Server . . .", then entered the server address.  Once I was connected, the network server appears as a disk drive on the desktop and as a shared device in the left panel of a Finder window.  From this point you can treat the device just as any other hard drive connected to your computer, creating folders, dragging files from one folder to another, etc.

With FoldersSynchronizer, you drag the source folder to the top of the Copy window and the destination folder to the bottom of the Copy window.  When you click the "Copy" button, the program starts inventorying the files it will have to copy.  Then it starts copying the files from the source to the destination.  I got an error message almost immediately which said that I didn't have permission to access the folder on the Network drive.  I have no idea why that error was received.  That is a mystery that can wait for another day.  Instead, I tried using Personal Backup, part of the Intego suite of products, which I also own.

This worked, after a fashion.  By the time it had taken an inventory of what it was going to copy, it was predicting it would take over 3 days to finish.  I let it run for an hour.  In that time it had copied about 500 MB.  Since I had been able to copy 2 GB in a half hour the day before, I decided to quit.

Doing things manually

I decided to do things manually using FTP, or simply dragging and dropping using the Finder.  If you have a lot to do, FTP is better because if you use drag and drop and encounter an error, everything just stops and you have to figure out what was copied and what wasn't and start over from there. FTP does some error handling. 

Because I had stopped the backup that had started, I had to determine how far the backup had gotten.  Then I started dragging and dropping groups of files from that point using the Finder.  I wanted to get to a point where I could drag and drop whole folders using FTP.

I probably would have been better off just letting the backup run using Personal Backup.  It ended up taking me 6 days to complete the backup.  It actually might have been better that I did end up doing it more or less manually because some things happened along the way.

In the first place, the OLS-CS server was down for a few hours two days in a row.  The first time (on 7/18) it was down for about 3 hours.  The second time (on 7/19), it was down for about 2 hours.  After the two hours, it appeared to be up.  I could get to my files.  However, I couldn't copy files to my folders.  Later in the evening when I tried, I had full functionality back.  Hopefully this service won't experience too many outages like that.  I tried submitting a help ticket, but this time I never got a reply.

Secondly, I ran across my Virtual Windows XP machine in my Documents folder.  That one file is over 8 GB.  It is the file that is used by a program called "Parallels" to run Microsoft Windows on my Mac.  My FTP program,  Fetch, was copying it as a text file. (I had Fetch set up to automatically select the correct format--text, binary, etc., when copying files.)  Fetch was uploading the 8GB file at 34 KB/s.  It was reporting that it would take 59 hours.  Well, none of that made any sense, so I just decided to be satisfied with on-site backups for that file.  I stopped the copying of the file and deleted it off the Network drive.

One thing I observed was that the time it takes to do a backup will depend on the upload speed you are able to get out of your connection.  When I started working on Friday, the upload speed started out at between 122 & 124 KB/s.  At one point on Saturday, I was only getting 73 KB/s.  In the evening Saturday, I saw 265 KB/s.  That didn't last long.  It was soon down to the 160's range.  The speed will change while the backup is in progress.

Job completed (for now)

I finished backing up the Documents folder on Saturday.  I think I still need to back up my photos and music off-site.  But that may not be true anymore now that Apple has made iCloud available.  But I may wait a couple weeks before I attempt to figure that out.  I want to continue testing this new service I've contracted with for a bit longer before I take these additional steps.

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