The Importance of Backups

How many backups do you have of your important files? I have several backups of my photo archive:

* A local rsnapshot (incremental) backup made every six hours.
* A local copy of my photos directory, which is a straight copy, including deletions. Synced daily.
* A copy on another server synced daily.
* An online cloud backup on Backblaze.

And I still managed to lose a few days worth of photos.

Late last month I took delivery of a new 8TB external drive. I benchmarked it and it was just a bit better than any of my existing drives so I decided to make that the primary location for my photos. I called it “cats”.

Previously my photos lived on a drive imaginatively called “data”, but that would now become my secondary copy.

With my photo archive copied over (all 2.3TB of it), I edited my backup script so it would not accidentally erase my photos on cats, especially not any newly imported photos. I updated rsnapshot so it used cats rather than data, and made sure that Backblaze was backing up cats too. It all looked like it would work perfectly!

The next day I didn’t take any photos, or the next, I took a couple of photos with my phone but didn’t transfer them to my laptop immediately. Then one morning I took a photo of the sunrise, and the following day I did the same.
I edited a few of the images and uploaded one on the same day. Nothing wrong at all.
The next day I went into Cork to photograph Glow Cork and got some nice long exposure photos of the lights. I went in the next day on December 3rd and did the same.

I worked on a couple of shots, but I was busy, and didn’t have time to work on photos until this evening when my world fell apart as Lightroom reported it only had the smart previews for my latest photos. With a sinking feeling and forced calm I checked the 2017 folder. It all looked good, until 2017-11-19 that is. Nothing there after that.

I frantically checked my backup script again and again, poring over each line to make sure the right files were being copied to the right place but it looked ok.
I checked my rsnapshot folder. That should surely have the missing files. No. No, it didn’t.
I checked my other server and the files weren’t there either. They stopped at 2017-11-19.

I checked Backblaze, and the backup made today ended in 2017-11-19 too.

Dumbfounded and a little desperate I started clicking on the end date in Backblaze, going back a few hours, then a day, and another day when I found something weird. I found my December 1st and 2nd photos, but not in the cats drive, but in the data drive!

I’d forgotten to update my Lightroom import preset. Lightroom was still copying my images into the data drive, and then my backup script would delete them the next day. Rsnapshot wasn’t backing them up either because it was now looking at the cats drive.

I started a restore of my December photos off Backblaze. The 3.7GB of data is still downloading. Luckily I hadn’t formatted my camera SD card so my December 3rd photos were still there too, waiting to be copied over again. Once converted to DNG, copied into place, renamed and metadata data updated, Lightroom was happy with those files.

I learned a lot about Backblaze. Without it I would have completely lost my December photos, including this one and the photo at the top of this post.

However, I could not find backups of photos shot from November 20th to 30th. Most of those were sunrise photos, copied to the laptop after the daily backup script had run so Backblaze should have had a day to back those photos up. The restore process offers hourly backups over the last two days, then daily for the next 7 days, then weekly going back a month.

I suspect that Backblaze considered the daily backup done sometime around 7am UTC right after my backup script had deleted the files but that doesn’t explain how I was able to find my December shoot because that was past the hourly deadline. I need to contact Backblaze to find out why.

I still recommend using Backblaze. Last week several factors conspired to make my backup fail:
1. My DSL has a relatively slow 1Mbps upload.
2. I had my laptop unplugged from my external drives for several hours.
3. Backblaze doesn’t immediately back files up.

Then there’s the bad luck to find this problem after more than a week when Backblaze changes to weekly snapshots. It has it’s limitations but it still saved a bunch of my photos and I am very thankful to have it!

I’ve already changed my backup script so it won’t mirror deletions. If I’m going to delete files I’m going to do it soon after copying them onto my laptop and I remove files so rarely it’s not needed in the backup script.

Queen – We Will Rock You (Raw Sessions Version)

In 1977 Queen released “News of the World”, and this year a 40th Anniversary Edition has been released with outtakes, alternative versions of the whole album and more. Here’s the trailer:

I found a playlist on Youtube and it’s great to hear slightly different versions of tracks I know so well but it reminds me that 2 days from now is the anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death and that makes me sad.

svn: “local file delete, incoming file edit upon update”

Google knows all, most of the time. However, I know I’m in trouble when I the first link returned by a search for an error message in a widely used piece of software is a commit entry adding test scripts for that and related errors to the software.

So, just in case you run into this problem where Subversion thinks you have deleted a file locally and someone has updated the same file on the Subversion server you should use the following to fix it:

$ svn resolve
$ svn revert

Tell “svn resolve” to keep local changes (mc) which means the file will be deleted, and then “svn revert” will revert that delete. You’ll finally be back to a pristine work area.

How to catch my eye in the Newsagent

While in Eason newsagents today I glanced over at the gaming magazines and something caught my eye and brought me back almost 30 years to when my brother and I bought our first copy of Zzap! 64.

Future Publishing have a new retro gaming magazine on sale that has a very familiar front cover.

Zzap! 64 issue 50, May 1989.

Retro Volume 10, September 2017.

The RETRO title will be familiar to Speccy owners, as it looks very similar to the title graphic of Crash magazine, another Newsfield publication from long ago.

I had a quick look through the magazine. Not much in the way of C64 games. It did have a bit about the Amiga 500, but the paper felt cheap, and I knew it would only end up collecting dust if I bought it.

A Magic VIC 20 in John Wick 2

John Wick 2 is a movie like a violent shoot-em-up game with a body count approaching that of a typical Call of Duty game. But it’s also got a retro heritage, with old fashioned telephone exchanges, rotary dial telephones and even a venerable Commodore VIC 20.

It’s also a magic computer because it wasn’t even plugged in, and the power light was unlit. It was a hero prop so they should have noticed!

The dog bar in the Cosy Cafe

The Cosy Cafe is a small cafe in Kinsale with seating outside where, even on a cold day like this, dog obsessed customers can come for a bite to eat and their dogs can have a meal too.

Diego enjoying some doggy kibble at the Dog Bar. The food and water was originally on the raised platform but it was too high for my little chihuahua. I’m sure it won’t be a problem for most dogs!

My fish and chips were delicious.