Tag Archives: backups

CrashPlan to the Rescue

We have been using CrashPlan for our home computer backups for nearly 8 years. During that time, it has come in handy on a couple of occasions when I needed to restore a file, or was transferring data to a new computer. Mostly, it sits in the background unnoticed. Backup software is like that. It’s like homeowners insurance for data. You have it and you hope that you don’t have to use it.

This weekend, I was making my way through a bunch of tasks that I’d been meaning to take care of for a while. I was getting my new Mac Mini setup the way I wanted it. I also knew that Kelly’s MacBook Air was behind on its system updates. So on Saturday evening, I set about running an update on her laptop.

By Sunday morning, I knew something had gone wrong. The OS upgrade to BigSur kept getting stuck at the “Less than a minute remaining” mark, and would sit there for hours. Everything I found online said this had happened to many people. Of course it would happen when I was upgrading Kelly’s laptop instead of my own. The only solution was a clean install.

I already had a bootable thumb drive with Big Sur, so I booted from the thumb drive and did the clean installation. It finished smoothly. I keep a set of “bootstrapping” notes in Apple’s Notes1 app and the first thing I did after the installation completed was go to my bootstrapping checklist. The first thing on my list after completing a clean install is to install CrashPlan and restore data, if necessary. I got CrashPlan installed, and started a restore of data, and a couple of hours later, all Kelly’s data was back, she had Big Sur running on her laptop and was ready to go.

And I breathed a sigh of relief.

Back in 2017, CrashPlan did away with their individual plans. If you stuck with them, you moved to CrashPlan Pro. At the time, I decided to stick with CrashPlan for a several reasons, and this weekend proved out the value of that decision. We currently have 3 computers that are backing up to CrashPlan2 and I feel good that the data is there if I need it, or if something goes wrong. CrashPlan has always been easy to use, easy to restore data when I need it, and once again, it came to the rescue for me this weekend when I needed to do a clean install and full data-recovery. It also helps to have a fast fiber optics Internet connection so that it doesn’t take long to restore all that data.

So, nearly 8 years after first starting with CrashPlan, it is still proving its value. I’m glad I stuck with it, and I still recommend it to others looking for cloud backup solutions.

  1. Why Apple Notes and not Evernote? Apple Notes is part of a clean system install, and once my iCloud account is connected, the notes are there. I don’t need to install any other software at this point, so I have access to what I need to finish bootstrapping the rest of the installation.
  2. As my new Mac Mini acts as a kind of home server, in addition to backing up to CrashPlan, I have an external drive on the machine that is setup with Time Machine backups so that I can restore locally, if needed. That external drive is not backed up to CrashPlan, but the rest of the system is, so is provides a level of redundancy in data protection.

Website outage and recovery (and kudos to IDrive)

So if you have been following along in the last 24 hours, you’ll know that this site was down for most of yesterday. It went down just before 11am. As of 2:30am EDT on July 1, the site is back up and by my estimates, 99.9% restored.

The specifics of what happened are not completely clear. What I do know is that the problem was with my hosts MySQL servers. This is a WordPress-based blog, self-installed, and I use MySQL in conjunction with the installation. Something in MySQL failed. My first indication was when I jumped to the site just before 11am and found that the most recent post was from June 15–some 15 days ago! I got a little panicky as you might imagine. Then, I noticed that the site began to fail. That was likely due to the fact that MySQL was failing at the host site. After several hours, the host sent out a message to affected persons, myself included, letting us know that there were in fact problems with sites using MySQL. They indicated 12-18 hours to restore the problem. Given that time frame, I know from experience it is usually a restore from backup (often from tape) of a known-good configuration.

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Where does a fan’s responsibility lie? Amazon’s screw-up with A Dance with Dragons

It is by no means any secret now that Amazon in Germany screwed up and shipping about 180 copies of George R. R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons to people who had placed orders. Martin is furious about this, as he should be. A Dance with Dragons is book 5 in the Song of Ice and Fire series, and a long-awaited addition to the series, particularly after HBO completed its airing of the first season of Game of Thrones. I have read the first two books (my thoughts here and here), and I’m partway through the third book, A Storm of Swords, and I am enjoying the series quite a bit. Like many people out there, I don’t to know what is coming next until I have the book in my hands and can read it myself. Put another way, I want to avoid spoilers.

But what I find most interesting about this recent Amazon debacle is that it feels like regardless of what Amazon’s responsibility is in the matter, it will be the fans who have received the book early that we will depend on to hold their tongues for another couple of weeks. It seems as if it is implicit on fans in this situation to keep their mouths shut, despite the fact that mistake that was made was not their own. Should one of these fans write a post about the book, others might react negatively to it, and I’m not sure that is right.

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My review of A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin


Last night I finished reading George R. R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings, the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. ¬†I gave Game of Thrones a 5-star rating. Five stars is a hard rating to come by and a hard rating to match and while I didn’t give A Clash of Kings 5-stars (I give it 4), it is only because some of the novelty of the style in which Martin tells his story is no longer new.

Outside of that, A Clash of Kings was a rather breathtaking book that carries the story forward from where A Game of Thrones left off and mixes in some new viewpoint characters along the way. I counted 9 viewpoint characters throughout the novel (10 if you can’t the Maester in the prologue, who we never return to). Some of these characters we are familiar with and some of the them are new. Some of the new viewpoints are familiar characters, like Theon Grayjoy, but this is the first time we see things unfolding from his eyes. Others are new to the story, like Davos.

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