How To Get Backup Religion

… have your entire system freeze solid, and then, in the recovery console, fsck choke because of a galloping screenful of badblock errors. Then you realize you have no working LiveCDs in the house. And your last backup dates from April. Oh crap.

That was Sunday night; Monday I went down to my brother’s, snagged a couple of spare USB keys for backup, and got him to burn me an Ubuntu 9.10 LiveCD. If I ever meet the genius who originally thought up Linux LiveCDs, I’ll buy him a beer. Or as many as he wants, really… Booted up into the LiveCD, found that according to gparted, there was nothing much wrong with my /home directory, but my /root was utterly screwed and unreachable. Phew. Systems can be replaced, personal data, not so much.

I have two harddrives in this tower – one 18 month old 500GB that was in use, and which has now thrown the bad blocks at me. The older 120GB drive is not in use, but still plugged in, so I’ve reformatted it, repartitioned, and tomorrow will reinstall Karmic from scratch. I’ve also been filling USB keys and burning DVDs of a lot of my less replacable personal stuff, just in case the already-damaged 500GB drive decides to utterly blow itself up… there also isn’t enough space on the 120GB for all my stuff, unsurprisingly, so some of it is going to be living on DVDs for a while.

The 500GB is still under warranty, so it’ll be wiped and sent off to Seagate post-haste. Nifty Linux discovery of the evening: if you need your hard drive’s model and serial numbers, System -> Administration -> Disc Utility can provide both, and much other useful info about just how your screwed-up hard drive is screwed up.

And a Dear Lazyweb request: Where the heck does Evolution hide all it’s data (it’s not all in .evolution, far as I can tell) and how can you coax a full dump of this data out of a non-functional install? My last backup from Evolution was back in April…

I haven’t decided on a backup solution for the future, but I obviously need one, something better than “DVDs full of a few bits and pieces, burned when I get around to it, which isn’t often…”. Money is tight, so once my warranty-replaced 500GB is back online I’ll probably use the 120GB drive as a backup solution until I can get something better and larger. A 500+GB external drive should probably be on my Christmas wish list, I’m thinking.

Final Score: probably no personal data lost, barring the Evolution mess, cramped quarters on an old hard drive while the new one is RMA’d, and much time lost while I sort the mess out. And a new appreciation of both live CDs and backups…

By Brian Burger

Started this site way, way back in November 1998, when the web was young. It's still here, and so am I.

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