No More USB Hard Disks
Since I got some Macs at home I’ve been wanting to use Time Machine systematically for backups. Previously I have had a FreeBSD server at home to store bulk and shared data and backups. Initially, I had anticipated getting more drives for the server, formatting them as ZFS, and using that with Time Machine. Then, when Mac OSX 10.5 Leopard released, it turned out that Time Machine only supports external USB or firewire disks. That meant my server idea wouldn’t work.
I borrowed a USB drive from work to test out with time machine, and it worked for a while, to the point that I even used it to restore a large chunk of my system because I had screwed it up by messing around with it. Then, something funny happened and the USB disk wouldn’t mount anymore. I did a bunch of troubleshooting and discovered that the journal had gotten buggered up on the HFS+ volume on the USB disk. I found a little utility that I ran to disable journaling, which then allowed me to use disk utility to repair the volume.
Recently I was using the USB disk to shuffle some data around, and at the one point that the only copy of some digital video files from the video camera I have were on the disk, it died again. I’ve been trying to repair the volume for four days with various tools. Nothing is working so far. It appears that there is an actual hardware failure somewhere in the device. It’s a Maxtor One Touch III with two hard drives configured in a RAID0, so I can’t recover the data from the disks one at a time by direct-connecting them to another machine.
I was considering going out and buying a big external USB disk for backups until this event occurred. On the other side of my desk, there’s a FreeBSD box with a nice set of mirrored ZFS drives where the data really should be. I’m taking this as a slap upside the head, and I’m not risking any of my data on external USB disks anymore. I’m going to get a couple more disks for the server, RAIDZ them, and use that instead.
I won’t be able to use Time Machine, but what the hell, I can setup a different backup software for Jenn’s and my machines.