MTBF

MTBF = Mean Time Before Failure

Lately, my MTBF ain’t what it used to be. I don’t know what it is with me and backup drives. Yesterday, I was on a conference call, minding my own business when I heard an error sound from my Mac G5. I wasn’t touching it at the time. Turns out that my Firewire backup drive gave out. It just unmounted with a clicky sound and won’t remount. That’s 3 external hard drives in that many years biting the dust. Is this normal?

What happened yesterday? I don’t have a clue. I have a dual enclosure that I purchased [about a year and a half ago](http://www.momathome.com/viewfromhome/2004/04/exceptional_service_makes_all.php) after a previous backup drive died. I have [Chronosync](http://econtechnologies.com/site/Pages/ChronoSync/chrono_overview.html) backing up files on a regular basis. I figured two firewire drives, what’s the chance of losing both? All I know is that when I try turning the drive on, the power light just blinks and nothing mounts. Disk Utility doesn’t see it. Maybe there’s something wrong in the enclosure? The first drive in the chain of two gave up so it’s not trying for the second drive. I have no idea. All I do know is that I’m sick of replacing hard drives and I don’t have time to take the enclosure apart or install the drives in a new enclosure and troubleshoot.

I considered taking the enclosure to a PC repair shop to see what they could do. The place I bought the enclosure appears to be out of business.

I’m too busy for this. I just need to backup. Set it and forget it. At [C3](http://www.c-three.org) we have an account with [FilesAnywhere.com](http://www.filesanywhere.com). We’re all over the country and it’s a way to keep our computers backed up and the files accessible in an emergency. I’ve been pleased with the performance, and their desktop software [Handy Backup](http://www.handybackup.net/) which runs overnight.

I just signed up for a 8GB account for myself. That’s enough space to backup my data, which combined with weekend burns to DVD-R should do the trick. I don’t like having my backup in just one place. On the PC, I use the corporate Filesanywhere account *and* backup to hard drive every night…for as long as that lasts with my luck with external hard drives.

Only catch is I’m having trouble duplicating the efficiency of the PC on my Mac. The desktop software that works with FilesAnywhere only works on Windows. FilesAnywhere documentation says it supports WebDAV (in which case I could use ChronoSync) but I can’t seem to get it to mount. FTP works fine, but then I need a client to schedule backups via FTP (doing it manually with [Transmit](http://www.panic.com/transmit) right now). I don’t want to buy another copy of Retrospect.

I have 10 days until I have to start paying for my personal FilesAnywhere account. I’m on the lookout for something that works better with the Mac.

My preferences:

* I need at least 8-10GB of storage, and I don’t want to pay more than $30 per month (so forget [.Mac](http://www.mac.com) or [Backjack](http://www.backjack.com))
* Needs to be reasonably fast. I tried [iDrive](http://www.idrive.com) a while back, and while it’s in my price range and has some Mac support it’s way too slow.
* I want to be able to schedule backups to run overnight.
* I don’t need incremental backups, mirrors are just fine. Compression is nice, but also not required (and I would actually prefer for files to be left intact rather than in a proprietary format like Retrospect).

It’s frustrating, as usual, that this is something that is relatively easy to achieve on a PC from a variety of vendors and is difficult to find for the Mac. For example, look at this one: [Remote Data Backups](http://www.remotedatabackups.com/solutions/index.htm) – 10GB for about $30 per month depending on the payment plan, automated backup. Desktop backup scheduling software only runs on PC. For the Mac, they send you to their “partner” [MacBackups](http://www.macbackups.com) where 10GB is $99.95 per month!! Hello?!?!!!

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2 thoughts on “MTBF

  1. Thanks, Jack. But I’m sticking with Filesanywhere. They’ve been around longer, they have a phone number that is answered by a real, live human being (I called when I was evaluating them for C3), and I did figure out how to automate my Mac backup through the PC.

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