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bill s 01-05-2005 12:00 PM

New User Strategy
Dave Nanian

I've recently experienced 2 hard drive disasters which necessitated 2 complete catalog rebuild and restore sessions with Retrospect backup sets. Each took over 5 hours of nervous time. There has got to be a better way. As a result I've discovered and decided to use your SuperDuper software and procedures.

I've ordered an external firewire hard drive which I intend to partition to use as as (1) a bootable Backup and (2) as a bootable Safety Clone.
If I understand your strategy correctly, after I set up the partitioned external drive I should regularly boot from the Safety Clone including when planning to install new system updates, applications, etc. When ready to install these new system updates & applications on my main Mac HD I would boot from that volume, do the installations and then "smart update" the Safety Clone. Additionally, Smart Updating the Backup partition from the main HD should also be done regularly, probably daily.
Have I interpreted your very well done instruction manual correctly?
Thanks for your help and your program.


dnanian 01-05-2005 04:14 PM

You've got it exactly right, Bill! (Thanks for reading the instructions, and I'm glad they were clear enough for you to get both the basic parts and the more advanced 'Safety Clone' concept.

I think you'll be really happy with the way this works -- let us know!

bill s 01-07-2005 09:20 AM

Thanks for your quick response. I received the external drive and installed everything. It's all working just as described. Thanks.

Although everything is working flawlessly at the moment, I'm still concerned about the 2 failures I recently experienced. I suspect that there might be a flaw in one of the system files which could jump up and bite at any time. Hopefully not. If it does happen again, I'll probably have to do an "archive and install". If I do, I assume I should do this on my main drive, shake it down for a few days and then reclone. Do you agree?



dnanian 01-07-2005 09:25 AM

I'm not sure how a flaw in a system file can cause a hard drive disaster. Could you explain a bit more about what you're thinking? With more detail, maybe I can help come up with a diagnosis.

In any case, yes, you'd want to archive and install to the main drive, not the safety clone. (The Safety Clone would actually maintain a checkpoint of the 'old' system in that case, and if you're careful -- don't do this without talking to me first -- you can clone it back if you have trouble.)

bill s 01-07-2005 11:05 AM


What happened both times was the system would not shut down properly, in essence it froze. I shut down using the power button (ImacG5). It then wouldn't boot up. Using Disk Utility from a System Disk, it was diagnosed both times as "invalid B Tree Node Size" and not repairable. TechTool couldn't fix it either. The second time I had obtained a compatible Disk Warrior boot disk. It went through 5 hours of repair to a new directory. Using the new directory, it wouldn't boot up. In both cases I eventually rebuilt a Retrospect catalog which predated the problems and restored from it. Although everything is working properly, I'm just a little wary that whatever caused the problem(s) might still be there.


dnanian 01-07-2005 05:15 PM

Hm. And no indication of *why* it froze? Sounds like you might have a bad system, rather than a bad file. Have you run the hardware tests on it?

bill s 01-07-2005 07:55 PM

All tests are fine including hardware. When it's in a failed state the only failure is the one I've described regarding the directory. What's strange is I did a backup on Dec 11 when I was using OS 10.3.6. I updated a couple of days later to 10.3.7. Everything ran ok for about a week before the first failure. I then restored it to the previous 10.3.6, it was fine for about 2 weeks and then it failed on Jan 2. I restored again to the 10.3.6 backup where I am now.

dnanian 01-07-2005 08:37 PM

Well, what's strange about this is that your iMac was likely shipped as "Journaled". To get a B-Tree error you'd have to have a pretty severe failure that would have worked around the journaling, which would be strange.

It's pretty unusual to have the Mac just freeze when it's not a kernel panic or something similar... definitely keep that backup up to date until you find an explanation!

bill s 01-07-2005 10:40 PM


I ran the hardware test again and now the mass storage test generates an error code 2STF/8/3 for my internal hard drive.
Do you know what this is?


dnanian 01-07-2005 10:58 PM

Unfortunately, no -- but that's more like what I would have expected: there're something wrong with the disk subsystem. I don't know what, but AppleCare should: I suggest you call them and give them this info. They'll likely send either a new disk controller (maybe mid-plane) or drive.

bill s 01-08-2005 10:16 AM


I had planned to call Applecare which I did this AM. They're sending me a new drive. Unfortunately the Applecare rep was unable to tell me what the error code means. Hope this does solve the problem
Thanks again for your help.


dnanian 01-08-2005 01:42 PM

Me too. Let us know how it works out!

slboettcher 01-09-2005 12:41 PM

"2STF/8/3" is only part of the error - it likely also had a suffix of "ata..."
It is your hard drive - given how cheap they are, I'd get a new (bigger!) one right-away, and do as Dave says - keep the backup!
Also, have you used Disk Utility to check the S.M.A.R.T. disk status?
Open Disk Utility, and select the drive - not the volume. What message is displayed below next to S.M.A.R.T?


bill s 01-09-2005 04:24 PM

What I gave was the error code, the latter info refers to the bus and drive obviously.
The status is verified. Disk Utility only checks for volume structure which, at the moment, is fine. The hardware test disk, however, shows a hardware error which presumably has caused the structure to get screwed up twice in the past few weeks.
Apple is replacing my 250GB drive.


sjk 01-14-2005 01:58 PM


Originally Posted by bill s
Apple is replacing my 250GB drive.

Sorry to hear about your trouble. Which drive do you have? Yesterday I replaced the ailing 250GB Maxtor 7Y250M0 in my iMac G5. Before removing it I ran SpeedTools Media Scanner (included with the 250GB OWC FW drive I just bought) which found many bad sectors (enough that I eventually lost interest in manually remapping them), then I let STMS run all night on the new drive and it came up clean.

Right now I'm considering some partition changes before restoring data to the new drive. Previously I had a ~35GB boot volume (including /Users) and the remainder was a non-journaled "media" volume primarily for audio/video files. Backups and other data are still on an older 120GB FW drive. I'm thinking of moving /Users to a separate volume since that'll make it and the boot volume smaller and easier to manage (e.g. backups), even though it means more combined "overhead" space for two volumes.

And thanks to Bill's fine Safety Clone summary I now see how to make effective use of that SD! feature and will repartition my FW drive(s) to accommodate it into the more robust backup strategy I'm working on. Even though it looks like only a bit of unimportant e-mail was lost it's made me particularly concerned about the integrity of the drive so I want to be better prepared optimal recovery if this one decides to fail. There was no S.M.A.R.T. error and Apple Hardware Test came up clean so I'd risked using the original drive after repartitioning while closely monitoring for any suspicious console errors (e.g. disk i/o errors).

Moving forward, I want to minimize the chance of overwriting a good SD! clone (for example) with bad data in an automated backup environment; about a week's worth of rollback possibility will be sufficient. And important data can be copied to another system for redundancy. Still working out details for using SD! along with some kind of "incremental" backups. Even with the new 250GB drive I'd rather not save more data (e.g. cloned images) than necessary.

bill s 01-16-2005 06:57 AM

My drive is/was the Maxtor 250GB 7Y250M0. Apple replaced it with an identical unit which tetsed perfectly, after I installed it, using the Apple Hardware Test Disk. I'm using an OWC 160 GB external FW drive for my SD backup/sandbox partitions. I follow Dave's instructions pretty explicitly for the day to day backup operations and booting from sandbox.
Hopefully the old HD was the source of my problems. I should know better if I don't run into problems again foe a couple of weeks or so.

bill s 01-23-2005 09:30 AM

Got a new drive and installed it 12 days ago. Everything seems 100% to date. Thanks.
I do have a dumb question now. I've been running OS 10.3.6 and am considering upgrading to 10.3.7. I want to do it as you've described, install it on "sandbox" until I'm sure it's not causing any problems. However, my backup & sandbox volumes are on an external FW drive. The instructions for installing 10.3.7 specifically state that external FW drives should be disconnected during installation. Some catch 22! What do you suggest?
Thanks for your help.


dnanian 01-23-2005 10:40 AM

A definitely dilemma. The only thing I can suggest is to use the procedure in the Appendix (or iPartition) to put the Safety Clone on the internal drive.

Of course: the potential failure here would, at worst, do something to the FireWire drive. As such, your internal drive would be OK, and you could boot right back to it in case of trouble... it might be worth a try to the FW drive.

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