Backup and Recovery

Best backup practices and recovering lost data.

Why can't my spotlight search work with my NAS?

Episode 1072

Red from Los Angeles, CA
Spotlight

Red just bought a Synology NAS for the office. But now, the spotlight search on his Mac doesn't work. He has to enable and activate it through the terminal command, but even after that it takes forever to index. Leo says that NAS is network attached storage and it's great for backing up data. In Red's case, it's probably that the NAS uses a different file system than the Mac. And as such, Spotlight can't index it. While the NAS looks like a local drive, it isn't. It may also be how Red has mounted the NAS. He needs to use AFP, Apple's protocol.

How can I recover a formatted hard drive?

Episode 1067

Paul from Palmdale, CA
Hard Drive

Paul has a lot of movies on an external hard drive for the kids to watch, but the drive accidentally got formatted. Can he recover it? Leo says a simple erase doesn't really erase the data, it just makes the sector available for re-use. A format is more complete, though. That doesn't mean it's unrecoverable. Leo recommends Recuva. If it can't save it, nothing can. It's free, but he should make sure to get it from the original source. He should also be sure to enable the deep scan option.

How can I backup all my pictures and videos online?

Richard from Crawley, UK

Episode 1062

Richard is trying to back up about 300GB of photographs and videos. He's using Dropbox and it's expensive. He's also tried Carbonite, but it takes too long. Leo says that's because his upload bandwidth is really slow. Amazon has a more affordable option called Glacier. It costs pennies per GB, but it's cheap because he won't have access to it immediately.

Is there a utility that would actually speed up my computer?

Joe from Bellflower, CA

Episode 1062

Joe's computer is slowing down and he'd like to buy HP's speed up program. Leo says that Joe needs to be sure he's getting it from HP and not a third party because it could be malware. Leo says even a utility from HP is just a way to sell him something he doesn't need. The best thing to do is just do an annual format and reinstall. It will refresh the drive and get rid of all the "cruft" or bit rot that builds up over time. So John should backup his data, format the hard drive, reinstall Windows, and update it completely.

Can I delete image IDX files? (Part 1)

Michael from Long Beach, CA

Episode 1060

Michael has a ton of IDX files of his images. Are they safe to delete? Leo says yes, generally. It'll make searching more of a challenge, but it won't endanger the images at all. Leo says that he imports all the images to Lightroom, then he'll sync to two external hard drives. Then he takes that second hard drive to work and swaps it out every other week. That way he always has an off-site backup.

To sync his files, he can use one of the following programs:

How can I recover data from a failed RAID?

Eric from Corona, CA

Episode 1060

Eric has a RAID 5 server that has had two drives fail and he needs some data recovery services. Leo says he doesn't know if data recovery is even possible if more than one disc dies. If a large enough chunk of data was lost, there's just no way to get it back. But it will largely depend on how it failed. A controller could've gone bad, and that could be an easy fix and the data could still be there. This is why one backup isn't much of a backup.

Does Time Machine and Carbonite back up all users or just mine?

Anthony from Newbury, CT

Episode 1058

Anthony wants to know if Carbonite and Time Machine backs up all user data or just his own? Leo says Time Machine will backup all user data, but he has to be logged in to his account to see it. Leo also thinks he can tell Carbonite to backup all seeable folders in the backup settings. So if he has admin privileges, he can do it. He'll want to go into his user folders to do it.

Why is my Mac slower with OS X Mavericks?

Dan from Montclair, NJ

Episode 1058

Dan installed OS X Mavericks on his 2009 MacBook Pro and he says he's taken a "speed hit" with a lot of beach balls. Leo says it's best to try and do a clean install to eliminate any rogue fragments of the old OS. If that doesn't fix it, then it may be that the internal drive is starting to get a bit flakey, especially since Dan also booted from a backup external hard drive which worked fine. It may be time to get his data off and replace that hard drive.

How can I eliminate duplicates before I do a backup?

Val from Valencia, CA

Episode 1058

Val wants to offload his data onto one large drive and "de-duplicate" his files. Leo says there are a number of programs that can do it, but it's something that makes him nervous because they have the potential to eliminate what it thinks is a duplicate when it isn't. A better way is to scan the contents with a redunancy check. Leo says that SyncToy is a good one.

Leo says he can keep the old drive anyway. Drives are cheap, so he could just use that as a backup.