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Back Again for Mac Backup Device Advice

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In August when I was here before, I got my feelings hurt (too sensitive and stressed due to "caregiver burnout), but here goes:


Pardon the length of this post, but I am still tearing my hair out and need help; and yes, I've been doing research since August; yes, my backups have included verification, but I continue to get more and more confused, and immobilized about what I should buy.


System: dual-boot G4, OS 9.2.2 and OS 10.3.5, HP 990cse deskjet, Adaptec 2930 SCSI card (works perfectly after removing Adaptec78xxscsi.kext, kextcache, and mkext as instructed by Adaptec) for legacy ZIP 100 external and UMAX 600S scanner, Asante AsanteTalk for legacy Apple Personal LaserWriter NTR and Yamaha PSR-79 MIDI keyboard, DSL, Finale 2000, the usual DTP software, etc., and Retrospect 6.0.204 and latest driver in OSX, (Retro 5.1 is still in OS 9.2.2, but I never use it since I want to backup everything while booted into OSX). Two Firewire 400 ports available, no extra USB ports, available Ethernet port in switch box connected to DSL modem/router.


I'd like to know what back-up devices are being used *successfully* by Mac owners with similar setups and/or a specific recommendation from Dantz on which backup devices I should buy (plan to get two of them for rotation). Prior to getting this Mac last November, I'd been using Retrospect to successfully back up to ZIP 100 disks. This G4's HD is so much larger than that of my previous PM 7600 w/Sonnet G4 card, however, I began backing up to CD's (takes 12 of them for 9GB) after seeing that 70 ZIP disks would be required. With the 7600, I would boot up from a CD, and "restore" my crashed hard drive by feeding in the ZIP disks.


On "Daylight Savings Time Sunday" (don't know what possessed me and made me do it), I tried to do a Software-Update DSL online installation of OS 10.3.5, upgrading from 10.3.2. After the fifth hour (I kid you not), the installation hung. I could not reboot, and on Monday the AppleCare folks told me to restore from my original 10.3 CD and then apply the 10.3.5 upgrade. That has worked (I downloaded it and installed it myself, not with Software-Update).


I need a backup alternative because I could not restore from my Retrospect CD's since I had booted up with a CD and, therefore, had no place to insert my Backup Set CDs. A FireWire hard drive was recommended (here in August, I think), rather than tape, and that has been the direction I've been leaning in and researching furiously. The LaCie Porche 160 FWHD was recommended by a poster here, but before I spend money (that I don't have) on two of them, I'm seeking advice one more time. I'd like never to have another "Daylight Savings Sunday" fiasco in my life.


For one thing, I'm suddenly afraid of FireWire HDs after reading this at the Apple OS 10.3.5 site:

"Important Note:

Apple has identified an issue with external FireWire hard drives using the Oxford 922 bridge chip-set with firmware version 1.02 that can result in the loss of data stored on the disk drive. Even with the improvements available in this update, Apple recommends you update the firmware on your FireWire drive. Please contact your drive manufacturer for more information."


Frankly, I don't know what that means and have not wanted to call each FireWire drive company to ask what ship-sets they use. The Dantz Retrospect site lists "approved drives," but the number of FW drives seems to have dwindled all of a sudden. For LaCie, as an example, only the LaCie PocketDrive is listed, while the generic FireWire/IEEE search yields what I read as a "blanket okay."


The following has also confused me:

"Poster : CallMeDave

"Date : 11/02/04 10:56 AM


"David, your call to Dantz will probably alert you to the fact that external FireWire

drives do not show up in the Media Request window; if the drive mounts on the Desktop you

can use it to store one or more File Backup Sets."


CallMeDave, what are *File* Backup Sets?


I receive the Digest form of this forum. Direct email to me at tmbrown@vance.net is also appreciated, but please leave subject line the same so that my spam filters won't eat your reply. Thanks in advance.


Thurletta M. Brown-Gavins



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You have a number of choices with regards to backup devices, but it all depends on how much data/files you wish to backup. The more you need to backup, the bigger the capacity backup device you need. CD-R/RW is good, but DVD-+R/RW is better - just remember that Retrospect has a compression option, use it whenever possible. But you'll have to research what drives are supported by Dantz's Retrospect program(s), see this link: http://www.dantz.com/en/support/compatibility_list_all.dtml


As for FW hard disks, Lacie has firmware updates for it's drives, so I've seen on it's web site.


A 'File backup set' is just that, a backup to a single file, without the need to automatically format and prepare disks for 'occupation' (uses the whole disk) by the Retrospect. Think of it like a Stuffit archive file. Retrospect will not ask for disks when restoring data, just the location of the file.

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Thanks, Michael, for your reply, especially for the supported-device url. The first one worked, but the second one takes me to the Page Not Found 404 message that I had been getting at the site.


One question: You said "A 'File backup set' is just that, a backup to a single file, without the need to

automatically format and prepare disks for 'occupation' (uses the whole disk) by the

Retrospect. Think of it like a Stuffit archive file. Retrospect will not ask for disks

when restoring data, just the location of the file."


When I was backing up to ZIP 100s, I had to insert the ZIPS to do a complete restore after a "wipe out." You are saying that "Retrospect will not ask for disks when restoring data, just the location of the file." After my 10.3.5-update-fiasco, I could boot up from a Retro CD, but it wanted me to insert the backup CDs and my only drive, the internal CD one, was in use. Could you please explain a bit what you meant?


Also, I was ready to spring for a FireWire external HD last week until I talked to a techie at a major HD company, who told me that since HDs can fail, he backs up to DVD at home! He also confirmed that his company's HDs use the chipset that we have been warned about in the Mac 10.3.5 update.


As you can tell, I'm very confused, and I really appreciate your taking the time to reply to me.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Let me explain the differences between a disk & file backup.




Retrospect uses two types of backup which leaves a file(s) on a removable disk, this can lead to some confusion. When doing a 'removable disk backup set', Retrospect will span the backup over several disks, which then leaves a file on it that takes up 99.9% of the disk space, and is often called 'Retrospect file'. Also, the disk now takes on the name of backup set with a number appended to the front of it.


While a 'file backup set' is an archive file that does NOT span over a number of disks, and does not need a separate catalogue file. That's the main difference, just make certain that this file will fit on a disk, if you wish to copy it off your hard disk.




Since you have used zip disks, it is a 'removable disk backup set', because you have a backup that spans many zip disks. It is not a file backup set.




Yes, hard disks may be very convenient for backups, they are however, succeptable to file deletions and disk erasure caused by head crashes and user error. A more secure way to backup is with removable disks, eg. CD-R/RW, DVD-+R/RW or DVD-RAM (4.7gig per side, and is mountable) which is what I use.




I think you're best bet is to install a new MacOS onto a partitioned hard disk, if you have to reformat the drive anyway, then install Retrospect and then restore your data.




I hope I haven't confused you too much.

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Thanks, Mike, for your continued help. I had come to the conclusion that DVD would be the way to go, but still had not figured out which writer to buy. I'm using OS 10.3.6 and Retro 6. Please, please, share the name/product number of the writer and the brand/product number of the DVDs you are using since this is working for you. I've got everything backed up on 12 rewritable CDs now, but I'm ready to get something else.


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