Backup Gone Bad

I'm going to complain about Apple software in this post. Those that are faint of heart should quite reading now.

A backup isn't a backup until it's proven, right? Right, so I proved my backup, but got some unexpected behavior along with it. I make use of Apple's Backup program. It seems pretty slick. It comes preloaded with plans that people, like me, might want to make use of. One of those plans is to backup purchased iTunes Music Store music. I buy from there, and I don't want to lose that music, well heck yes I'll backup. Thank you very much.

This has been going fine for months. I backup, not only to DVD, but also more frequently to my external hard drive. I went to do a restore from DVD the other day. This was a dead end because I couldn't find the original DVD. Doh, my bad. You see, Backup will only make incremental backups, which in a way, is good, as long as you keep all of the incrementals. Seems as though I should insert a full, fresh, backup every now and again.

With the DVDs in hiding somewhere in my house, I decide I'll just use the external HD backup. First off, the restore went great. It was easy, fast, and did restore my entire collection of purchased music. Too bad it brought the full iTunes library file, but not the library, with it. Yes, that's right. Glorious Apple, rulers of tight integration, gave me a seeming simple and unborkable plan to restore my purchased music, but when it came time to yank those bits back from the edge of the ether cliff, it invited a few more to the party.

This is a big problem for a couple of reasons.

  1. I was doing this restore on my MacBook. I don't have room for my full iTunes library on there, but I did want to have my purchased music. I have that now, but I also have over a hundred playlists that point to nothing because my full library is not loaded.

  2. Even worse, the things I had added to my library on the MacBook are now floating in no man's land because the iTunes library has been blown away and replaced with the one accompanying the purchased music backup. So much for not caring where or how iTunes stores files at the system level. I now have to go data spelunking to bring the file from the previous library back from the depths. That's just not cool.

How could Apple get this wrong? Sure, I wasn't doing a real restore, but what if I was? What if I had made tons of changes to my library and then did a restore from just a week back. It seems like I'd lose all of those changes. No, I'm not going to go try it.
Everything involved here is from Apple and I think you can see where I thought a restore of purchased music would only restore the purchased music, not pull a Weekend at Bernie's and prop some dead library up next to the bought tunes!

If you know of a better way to accomplish what I want to do (Import function?), without copying individual files in the finder (duh), I'd love to hear it. Ohh, and Apple, shame on you. Hold a lunch meeting and get the Backup team talking to the iTunes team. And while I'm yelling about Backup, can we get a default plan to backup our home directories excluding Music, Pictures, and Movies? I already back those up with the other plans. Either that, or send me a few terrabyte drives. Thanks.

1 comment:

Jason said...

I agree that this is a case of integration promised, but definately not delivered.

However, I think it is the backup guys who need to sit the iTunes guys down and teach them how to properly serialize information. There is far too much voodoo involved in saving your iTunes meta-data.

A different issue thus emerges, should backup be the definitive keeper of your system, or should each app be able to take care of itself? I prefer the latter, especially since it helps those of us in the Windows world out. iTunes knows what it needs, let it allow you to backup. Apple could build some standard backup methods that all of their apps could implement in a similar way.

Then, backup can simply be basically an automator (in Apple world) action, to sweep through all selected apps and perform each app's specific backup operation.

I see Pink Floyd's dream of "Pigs on the Wing" coming true before this ever does though. Oh yeah, and I'm deathly afraid to do anything with my iTunes library (I was even before reading this...)