Why Dr. Mac Thinks Redundant Backups are Essential

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #105

I ended my last column with words that couldn’t have been more prescient: “I sleep better knowing that my data will survive almost any eventuality. So will you.” You see, a few days ago I walked into my office to find an alarming onscreen alert:

The alert that strikes fear in the hearts of millions

It seems the big external hard drive that contains 20+ years of music, videos, and photos, had just died, which meant that every song I ever owned; every video I ever made (including hours of footage of my kids) or bought; and more than 100,000 photos spanning more than 20 years of my life were gone in an instant!

Or not.

You know I’m a nut about backups, so I figured I’d just buy a new hard disk, restore everything from my backup, and live happily ever after. Since I felt safe and secure, I procrastinated for several days and by the time I got around to it, I discovered that the backup disk had become inoperable, too.

At this point I attempted to repair both damaged backup disks with Disk Utility’s Repair Disk function as well as Alsoft’s DiskWarrior, which has resuscitated  countless hosed disks for me in the past. But sadly, both utilities found the disks beyond salvation and would only let me attempt to reformat them.

At this point, most folks would be in tears. But because I believe with all my heart in redundancy, I had a third backup stashed away in the safe deposit box at my bank, which I used to restore everything live happily ever after.

I figured while I had two damaged disks in hand, I'd use them to challenge Prosoft Engineering’s Data Rescue, which is a terrific Mac app that can recover files from damaged, crashed, and even reformatted disks. To make things a bit tougher, I decided to try it on the disk that was so badly hosed my Mac couldn’t read it.

It took over 18 hours to recover more than 200,000 files, but that represented every file on the disk and more (I thinki)! That’s the good news.

The bad news is that while roughly half the files were named correctly and in their proper folders, the other half were in generically-named folders — Archives, Documents, Images, Movies, and such. Even worse, though some of those files bore their correct file names, tens of thousands of them were renamed with cryptic letters and sequential numbers as their file names.

Weird names are a small price to pay for recovering files from a disk so badly damaged it choked two other disk utilities.

In spite of those two issues, Data Rescue rocked. It's remarkable this software can recover what seems to be every file from a completely trashed disk. 

Now here's the best part: There's a free demo version of Data Rescue that displays all the files it thinks it can recover and lets you recover one test file before asking you to pay, so you know if it worked before you shell out a penny. That’s totally cool.

And that’s all he wrote…


Data Rescue. Prosoft Engineering. $99.