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Only two days into the process, I'm finished restoring Byron, my desktop G4, and all that's left are mundane details such as fixing broken cross-volume aliases, missing icons and unrecognized fonts, and reentering Conflict Catcher's registration number. The latter, owing to a bug that existed around Mac OS X 10.0's release, I have committed to memory. I can imagine waking up in twenty years and thinking, “CC8-031… I still haven't forgotten”?! Classic Startup isn't letting me enter that registration number, either; strangely enough I remember 10.0's Classic worked fine in that regard.

A few tips for anyone else who has to do a full system backup and restore and (like me, unfortunately) doesn't have a regular full backup system in place. I do back up my work to my parents' tape drive in Boston every night, and archive as much as possible on CD, but I'd be in for a week of recovery and reconstruction were my hard drive to die.

  • I spent many hours trying to get the backup to work at all; I kept on getting an “elem.c-812” message from Retrospect as it was updating the catalog after one disk backed up, time and again, from both OS 9 and X. The tech note that covers such errors doesn't mention elem.c-812; following the chain of information in the article leads me to the “Chronic Problems” section, and hours of trial and error. Eventually I gave up and searched more widely; the answer was buried deep in a gigantic thread in Dantz's forums: remove the driver update. It's extremely irresponsible of Dantz to know about a serious problem like this with released software, for over two months, and not post a fix, or even a more visible public notice. It cost me a lot of time this week, time I don't have to waste.
  • Retrospect easily supports backing up multiple disks to a single backup set, but it's hard to figure out how to restore multiple disks at a time; the Restore command only lets you pick one source and destination. Here's one way to queue restores: Create a script for restoring each volume individually, from the backup set to the correct disk as a destination. Choose each script in turn from the Run menu and save a run document for it in a folder. Select all the run documents in the folder, and open them. Go home and sleep while your data is restored. (The last one is optional, but it's what I did :-))
  • If you don't have a spare external disk to back up onto, consider whether you can use a spare FireWire-capable Mac if its internal drive has enough space. I backed up my G4 onto my PowerBook with FireWire Target mode (start up the PowerBook holding down the T key; press the power key to turn the machine off).
  • After restoring, OS X 10.1's Classic wouldn't recognize a valid OS 9 install until I blessed the System Folder with Startup Disk (I think Jaguar fixes this problem).
  • Even after setting the correct System Folder and restarting, the fonts in my OS 9 Fonts folder were not available to OS X, although they worked fine in 9. This was another case of font cache corruption; I rebooted into OS 9, searched for all the files whose names began with “”, and deleted them. Restarted into OS X and all was well. I was happy that most applications I used remembered their font settings even if they were unavailable; the only one I found that didn't, reverting to Lucida Grande for its About window, was Radio!

Hard drives look like the best deal these days for medium-but-not-gigantic-capacity backup. I just priced 80 GB FireWire hard drives and FireWire bridges: $110–115 for 7200 RPM 3.5″ ATA hard drives, $100 for a FireWire DriveDock (separate AC adapter) or $160 for a Super DriveDock (bus-powered). Ideally I'd like to get two drives, and a couple of real enclosures instead of the DriveDocks, which will require me to be unplugging the power cable from the drives whenever I swap them, but I'm not sure I can afford that at present.

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