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Old August 9th, 2009, 05:18 PM   #1
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simple MAc backup question

I'm sort of new to Macs, having gotten my Imac at the beginning of last year.

I periodically back up certain folders and files to an external drive via firewire. My main folder that I backup has many many sub folders and those have sub folders, etc. Seems like if I just grab this master folder and drag/copy, it would copy everything inside, right? Not so. Thankfully no harm done, but I found out today that stuff I thought was backed up eons ago existed nowhere on my backup drive. Seems like it would get to folders up to a certain point in the alphabet and anything with a name after "H" was never copied. Is this a Mac thing? a Bass thing? Something where the backup drive doesn't think it has enough room to hold the copied info, because most of the stuff is constantly replaced/overwritten, but it thinks it's being added to?

Wondering if there's a way to ensure I'm doing what I think I'm doing. Thanks.
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Old August 9th, 2009, 07:34 PM   #2
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Can't quite understand what is happening in your example, sorry. But have you tried using "Time Machine" which is included in the Mac software? Get the biggest external drive you can afford, choose it in time machine, forget the rest. I just plug my external drive into my laptop every couple days and leave it alone; it doesn't take long to back things up.

The external drive will have a bunch of dated folders from each backup. It creates aliases for any files which have not changed since the previous backup. Or you can use the time machine software itself to access files from any date.

It may have some flaws when it comes to restore... don't know because happily I have not needed to! But this is easy enough to do, and I don't have the discipline to burn full disk images regularly as some people advocate.

Regardless, I think it would work better than your current system :-)
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Old August 9th, 2009, 11:46 PM   #3
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All I'm saying is, I have a folder with all my important stuff in it. . short film project files, scripts, resumes, etc. etc. These are all in subfolders of of that master folder. I thought when I copied the master folder to my external drive it would take EVERYTHING inside with it, but this doesn't have seem to have been the case, and I didn't know why.

I've never messed with time machine, but I will look into it. I wish you could just do something where it would look at two identical folders (one on main HD, one on external), and compare all the files/folders within, and only update things that had been changed/added to since the last time you updated.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 01:16 AM   #4
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Try a "file > get info" on the master folder you are copying... and the resulting one when you're finished. They should be similar in size.

It should copy all of the contents through the method described... unless some of the files are locked when you copy them - but then it should prompt you that they are locked when it's running the copy.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 01:20 AM   #5
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Thanks. I think it's something to do with the computer not thinking the external drive can hold everything I'm copying when I try to copy the whole master folder. It has about 80 GB free, and the contents of the folder I'm trying to copy are way more than that, BUT, I'm overwriting everything on the external drive, so I'm not really adding much more (the occasional new file here and there), but it doesn't know that, so it'll say "cannot copy [blah blah] because there is not enough room.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 09:22 AM   #6
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Don't know why the simple folder drag doesn't work. I have "backed up" Macs this way myself for over 20 years and never saw anything like this, unless it warned me there wasn't enough space or the file was locked, etc.

But really, just try time machine. You have described exactly what it does automatically each time you connect your external drive: "I wish you could just do something where it would look at two identical folders (one on main HD, one on external), and compare all the files/folders within, and only update things that had been changed/added to since the last time you updated."
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Old August 10th, 2009, 10:08 AM   #7
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The copy doesn't take into account what's being overwritten, just how much room is free (A) and how big the copy(B) is... If A < B then fail.

Remove the redundant data first, then copy it over. (stay paranoid about which is which as you're deleting!)
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Old August 10th, 2009, 12:38 PM   #8
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Honest... just let time machine do it for you. It will only copy what has been changed. But the big plus is that it will create links to all the things which have not changed, so from the user perspective each backup folder will contain ALL files.

There may be some applications which time machine isn't appropriate for, but it does EXACTLY what John wants in this case and it's a no-brainer to setup and use. Takes about 3 mouse clicks the first time you use it. After that, just plug your external drive into your mac and it will do its thing without any action on your part whatsoever.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 01:47 PM   #9
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Yeah, time machine sounds wonderful. Now I have to go buy another drive.
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