View Full Version : Superduper! superb robustness!!

12-06-2009, 09:24 AM
Just recently completely changed my backup methodology away from using multiple DVDs for data backup & keeping a firewire drive with a vanilla copy of my current operating system in case of system disk failure. I have a PowerMac G5 running Mac OS X 10.4.11 with two internal drives, 160Gb system disk, 1TB disk for data. I also have a couple of 1TB external FW800 disks (LaCie & Miglia) which I use for my iTunes libraries & photos (two copies of each - one on each external drive).

I just bought a Voyager Q docking unit which allows you to connect bare sata drives via FW800, esata or USB2. I'm using the spare a 250GB drive that came out the G5 to make a system disk clone that I can simply swap out should the live system disk fail.

I really chose the wrong night for my first use of Superduper! to clone my system disk.

I plugged the 250GB drive into my shiny new Voyager Q dock, kicked off Superduper to clone the system disk and went to bed, leaving it running. About 3am, I wake up and realise the power is off. Power cut. I go downstairs and reset the breaker on the main fuse box. Power comes back on. I go through and restart the Mac, of course the backup was part way through and didn't finish. Okay, restart it all with the "Smart copy" feature and go back to bed.

Got up next morning at 8am and there had been another power cut!!! Restarted the backup again with the "smart copy" feature. It took about 10 mins to run, finish the copy and make it bootable.

Hmmm - Now I have really big doubts about the cloned system disk I have just made. Firstly, will I actually be able to boot from the Voyager Q dock to test it? And secondly, how reliable a clone will it be - having crashed due to power outage twice whilst connected to the wrong end of a chain of 4 FW800 devices?

No worries on either score! The cloned system disk booted all ok and as far as I can sensibly test, all my applications work :-)

I am very impressed indeed with the robustness of Superduper! I've used a lot of backup software over the years, and most would not cope at all well in similar situations. Despite two power cuts I now have a working clone of my system disk. With most other backup solutions I would probably still be re-running a third attempt at a full backup copy.

I now intend to update my cloned system disk weekly using the "smart copy" feature and also buy a bare 1TB sata disk to do something similar on a daily basis for my 1T data disk.

Anyone want a huge box of used DVD ROMs? Not really :) But I do have my doubts over how long these offline backup copies of music & photos will be readable for, despite me keeping them in quality card sleeves in a cool dark cupboard. I found some really old 3.5" floppy disks from 1990 which recently & was able read the files on those. They were backups of EPS and TIF images, plus text & word processing files that had been made on a PC. I doubt the DVDs will be readable for as long.


12-06-2009, 09:28 AM
Wow: you really need an uninterruptible power supply, tekno.mage! :)

12-06-2009, 09:39 AM
It really doesn't happen that often (despite living somewhere very rural) unless there are thundrestorms in the area (when I shut down & unplug all the computer equipment) - and as I'm now semi-retired I'm not working on anything *that* critical.

I've not used domestic (ie vaguely affordable) UPS systems since the mid-nineties when they were dreadful things with a nasty habit of destroying the power supplies of any PC unfortunate enough to be attached to one - I guess that put me off the whole idea :)

BTW - has anyone else noticed how much better PowerMacs are at surviving brown-outs than PCs? I guess apple use bigger capicitors in their power supplies.

12-06-2009, 09:42 AM
Current units are a lot better than the old ones. I wouldn't run a system without them. The robustness of these kinds of things is very much based on timing, and while journaled filesystems are much beter than they used to be, honking the power away mid-write is often a recipe for extended sadness and recrimination.

12-06-2009, 10:01 AM
You are quite right, of course.

Although I've personally never experienced anything worse than a single lost or corrupt file due to power failure on a Mac. Whereas an external FW400 bridge board with badly-written firmware can make a really serious mess of all your data!!!

I'll look in to UPS systems again.

And I will do new full clone of the system disk tonight, just in case :-)


12-06-2009, 10:03 AM
I can't say I've been quite so lucky (I've lost entire filesystems due to unexpected shutdowns, last when upgrading to Snow Leopard... but of course I had a full SD! backup ready to go), but you're certainly right about bad bridges. That's one reason we recommend Oxfords.