Backup and Recovery

Best backup practices and recovering lost data.

Why did some of my photos disappear from Apple Photos?

Episode 1250

Claudia from California
Apple Photos

Claudia is finding that half of her photos have disappeared in Apple Photos. She's taken her computer into the Apple store and talked to a genius but they have no answer, except that she has a second library. But the photos aren't there either. Leo says that the second library is the old iPhotos library. But that doesn't answer why her photos have vanished. They've also disappeared from her backup. Apple wants to wipe her drive and start over. Leo says it's common for tech support to want to wipe and go back to the original install. But the problem is, she'll lose her data.

How can I recover data from a damaged hard drive?

Episode 1249

David from Orange County, CA
NewerTech Universal Drive Adapter

David has an external 2TB Seagate Baracuda hard drive and he hasn't been able to transfer the data from it, because it's damaged. Can he roll his own data recovery or does he have to pay for it to be recovered? Leo says that there are several levels of data recovery. Level 1 is a soft error -- a data error caused by a bad block. It's easily fixable with a good utility. Level 2, on the other hand, is a physical issue. This could be a scratched drive, a bent lever, etc. If he has a level 2 error, he's going to pay ten times the amount to repair it -- often in the thousands.

What's a good backup alternative to Apple's Time Machine?

Mendota from Beverly Hills, CA

Episode 1247

Mendota wants an alternative to Time Machine for backing up his computer. Leo says he's not a fan of Time Machine. He recommends SuperDuper because it can be bootable. Time Machine is a dumbed down, simpler backup solution "for the rest of us." But that ease of use is more dangerous because it's too easy to assume you've backed everything up and can restore it.

What's a good backup utility for the Mac?

Tom from Albuquerque, NM

Episode 1244

Tom recently upgraded to Windows 10 and he's really happy with it. Now he's turning his attention to his Mac. It started notifying him that he's losing disc space, but when he went to check the storage space on his computer, it has a huge folder labeled "Backup." Leo says it sounds like OS X is backing up his data to his local hard drive. Tom should just go into the System Preference pane and disable Time Machine. Leo recommends SuperDuper instead.

How can I wipe my hard drive before I donate my old computer?

Paul from Lake Forest, CA

Episode 1243

Paul has an old Windows 7 computer and he's thinking of donating it. How can he wipe the drive effectively? Leo says most places that you donate to will promise to wipe the drive for you, but it's always a good idea to do it yourself to be safe. Paul should grab an external hard drive, plug it in and then drag and drop his data directly. Once he's done, he should download DBAN (Derick's Boot and Nuke). It will wipe the drive to the standards of the Department of Defense. It's very secure.

What's the best network attached storage device?

Robert from Belgium

Episode 1243

Robert is looking for a good network attached storage solution to keep movies on. Leo says that NAS media server storage is a good idea, as is backup. Leo likes Synology. They have a huge range of products from 2 -10 drives. Gigabit Ethernet speed. Are they low energy? Leo isn't sure.

Another option is the NetGear ReadyNAS. But Leo likes Synology best.

How can I make recovery discs for my new laptop?

Raj from United Kingdom

Episode 1242

Raj wants to buy a new laptop but it doesn't come with recovery discs. Leo says that the software is now on a partition on the laptop and he can make his own set of recovery discs with optical media or even a USB key. If he wants to use a USB key, he'll need one that is 8GB or larger. Use the Windows Boot Media Tool to make a bootable key. Then he can slipstream in new updates as they come available. If he gets a bigger key, then he can create an image of his hard drive, including all of his apps and he can restore it when he needs to.