Episode 120 – Where Do You Draw the Line?

We start this week by following up on with a non-technical guide to machine learning. We also discuss Quickdraw an AI engine back with Google technology. We continue the follow up with more Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C docks, as well as, Apple’s purge of zombie apps on the App Store. The creator of PDF Expert has reported on potential success on the Mac App Store. We discuss more shutting down of product lines via Apple’s recent departure from the line of Apple Basestations. Jaime brings up how to organize a Swift file and we discuss style guides and tools. We close in on the latest offering in Instagram’s Live release. Picks: Brain Warmers, View Hierarchy & Memory Graph and A Practical Guide to Securing macOS.

Sponsored by Hired

Episode 120 Show Notes:

Episode 120 Picks:

Re Unarchiving a Time Capsule archive

This is a follow up to an archived thread about “unarchiving” a backup of the data from a Time Capsule.


I have just started working with my second TC dual band and I have several Macs including a MacBook Air – which takes 17 hours to do the initial back up. The Time capsule is NOT a server. When you try to mount the drives on your Mac and copy files from one TC drive to the other the files are actually brought to your Mac via your network and then written back. (I have also not figured out how to connect two TCs together – you can connect them between one WAN to the other’s Ethernet port but cannot access the drives. Also server software knows you are copying to drives connected to the server so it handles the data directly between the drives.)

So I finally discovered the “Archive” function on the AirPort – which will archive an entire TC drive to a drive on the TC’s USB port. It’s reasonably fast. Next I moved and connected the USB drive the new TC but again we are back to copying to the Mac and back again. For example it said it would take 35 hours to copy 150 GB of data from the USB drive hanging off the back of the TC.

Reading the response to the thread above – which was not helpful to the poster – it dawned on me. Connect the USB drive to a spare Mac and copy the files back to the new TC – which would take half the time. Currently I am copying my 80GB backup of the Air to the new TC and it says it will take 6 hours. (The backups on the TC are sparse disk images so they are actually hundreds of little files in a package so will take much less than that but the Finder cannot really estimate the time.)

What we need is an ability to “restore” and archive with Airport Utility.


Crash Plan proofing Time Machine

Q. We would like to use Time Capsule for back up but we may also need to store the backup off site. We have about 100 GBs of data we don’t want to lose. Can we also back up the Time Capsule and keep it off site?

A. Discussions around backup and archiving can be confusing and people often say “backup” when they mean to say “archive”. Backing up data is done to prevent loss of information currently stored on your computer. We “backup” our computer’s data to in case of disasters such as fire, flood, theft and mechanical failures. We are most concerned with backing up the information that we need for “day to day” operations.

Archiving on the other hand is meant for storing information “offline” for a long term – even permanently and stored on inexpensive media that is designed to last. A DVD is better than a hard drive or tape over the long haul because the information is burned on with a laser or permanently stamped on with commercial DVDs. All new Mac systems have dual layer DVD drives capable of writing 8GBs of data to DVDR – for long time storage and archiving. Hard Drives and magnetic tape are susceptible to magnetic corruption. DVDs can be corrupted by light and heat. Environmental conditions must be considered when considering how “archive media” is stored. I recommend that you make two copies of anything you seriously value and store one copy offsite.

The “Time Machine” runs once every hour on your Mac using a service or daemon called “/System/Library/CoreServices/backupd”. Daemons are background services that run processes independently of the users. The “Time Machine” software can use a second hard drive, removable drive or a Network Area Storage called “Time Capsule” as the destination. Apple’s “Time Capsule” runs a specialized service and is the only network device that “Time Machine” will back up to on a network. The Mac has to be “awake” in order for the backupd to run properly – and Time Machine comes with and only runs on Mac OS X 10.5 (aka Leopard).

Crash Plan Pro is also software that is installed on the Mac itself – and like the Time Machine software – runs in the background and backs up over the local network or encrypted over the Internet to a remote location. CrashPlan Pro client software is installed and runs as a daemon on the Macs. There is a software interface where you can select which files and folders are to be backed up. You can also set up the schedule which governs when items gets backed up. It can backup to another machine on the network, which must be running the CrashPlan Server software.

Companies such as IronGate in Ottawa and iT Guy Technologies offer third option of running CrashPlan Pro – that of setting the destination of the CrashPlan Pro back up to a remote “CrashPlan Pro Hosted Service”. Then you can rest assured that the data won’t lost in the case of theft, fire or flood. You also save the expense of setting up and managing a data center.

CrashPlan clients can also run on MacOS X 10.4 (tiger), Windows XP and Vista, linux and Sun clients. Apple introduced Time Machine because the majority of users never back up their data. So by making Time Machine as simple as “set it and forget it” the hope is that average consumers will not lose their data through inaction. Companies with mission critical data often spend thousands in hardware, software and labour to back up their systems – the budget is based on the time and cost required to recover from loss. Back up of live data is expensive and usually has a cutoff timeframe because of the expense.

Information should be taken “offline” and archived if it is not required for day to day operations – because of the relative expense of “online” and “nearline” storage. Time Capsule and CrashPlan are “nearline” solutions. Time Machine is by its nature an active process so it cannot really be backed up. Rather you could install Crash Plan Pro and backup in parallel. Then you would have two sources to recover from and eliminate another point of failure.

Fix Time Machine’s broken volume.

Q. I am having trouble with Time Capsule and I don’t think that it is backing up. I get an error saying that the back up disk image could not be mounted. How can I fix this?

A. Time Capsule, as you may know, is an additional tool to help users back up their Macintoshes wirelessly over a local network. Users running Mac OS X 10.5 aka Leopard, can take advantage of the new easy to use back up feature Time Machine. That way they can protect their valuable data in case some disaster strickes their computer.

Time Machine and Time Capsule will back up data every hour that the Macintosh computer is up and running. Initially it does a complete backup and then in tracks and backs up any changed files. With the back you can recover a file or the entire computer’s system and data if either is lost somehow.

Some users have experienced similar problems with the initial versions of the Time Machine. For every Mac that it backs up it creates an image of the hard drive in the form of a sparse disk image. A disk image is a file that behaves like a removable hard drive and a sparse one doesn’t have a fixed size so it can grow as required. For some reason, the sparse image may get damaged – afterwards it may not be able to mount normally, so that it can be read from or written to.

The fix for this is simple. Your Time Capsule should appear in the Finder’s Side Bar. Open a new Finder window if one is not open. If you don’t see the sidebar click the white lozenge in the top right corner of the window. Open the Time Capsule’s drive where you will see one or more “sparsebundle” files. Look for the one that matches your computer’s name along with a jumble of letters and numbers. My computer’s Time Machine file is named “macbook_001b639842a7.sparsebundle”. The jumble represents you “Ethernet Address”, which you can find under Network in System Preferences.

To fix the problem – simply rename the file by changing a few letters or numbers. The next time that the Time Capsule backs your Mac up it will see the file is missing and it will create a new one. After a few days of successful back up you can delete the older back up file.

Time Capsule timing

Q. I’m curious about using Time Capsule to back up my Macintosh wirelessly. How long does it take?

A. That’s a really good question. One of my pet peeves as a roving IT consultant is how many clients of mine don’t appreciate how important backing up their data really is. The problem is no one can tell you when a hard drive mechanism will fail. Tape backups can be damaged by exposure of heat, cold or magnetic fields and CDs and DVDs can get scratched, dirtied or broken leaving them useless. Unfortunately the majority of users are oblivious to the dangers of data storage.

Last year Apple has introduced “Time Machine”, to automatically back up your data to any attached hard drive. “Time Capsule” is an Apple Airport Base Station (internet router and wireless access point) complete with a server grade hard drive with a special network version of Time Machine.

All computers using Mac OS X 10.5 can connect to the Time Capsule and be backed up on the network. By entering a password older Macs and PCs can connect as a network drive for manual backups and file sharing. Like most back up technologies it starts by backing up every file on your Mac (you can decide to exclude files or folders.) After a complete back up it then backs up incrementally, backing up new files or files that have been modified.

The initial back up takes over 10 hours. The back up over Ethernet took much less time. Afterwards Macs back up about once an hour. Each back up is only accessible by the Mac that created the backup. Time Machine can restore you Mac in case a disaster. Your data is important to you, so get a Time Capsule or at very least use Time Machine with a removable drive.