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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 03:03 PM   #1
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Back Up Your Mac. No, I Mean Really, Back Up Your Mac

A little lesson on the power of a back up for your Mac.

For many years I scoffed at the constant barrage of people here who harped about being backed up. What could possibly go wrong?, I thought. Nothing has ever happened to any of my stuff.

Finally I relented and have had a 350 GB external available for my MBP for a couple of years now.

Yesterday, our daughter came home with a picture of her nephew (and our grandson), given to her by her brother. It had been taken free at a local mall and featured the six month old on Santa’s lap.

She scanned the picture so we both could add it to iPhoto and e-mailed it to me, a trip from the basement to ground level in our home.

I got the e-mail just fine, clicked on the picture to highlight it, then dragged it onto my desktop like I had done to thousands of other pictures we had traded over the years.

When I went back to Mail.app and clicked beside the picture to remove the highlight dullness nothing happened. It stayed highlighted, so I tried clicking in a couple of other areas within the e-mail when Mall.app suddenly quit and I got the notice warning window.

I tried to reboot mail and it opened fine, but without doing anything, it would quit again in about 10 seconds. Try as I might in the few seconds it stayed open, I could not delete the e-mail.

Long story short it crashed the entire MBP about a half dozen tries later.

I restored the computer to yesterday’s date, but it must have updated just seconds after I got that fatal e-mail and after an hour and a half restore, I was in the same boat.

I then restored from two days earlier, waited another hour and a half and all is now up and running like it should be.

If you are one of those people who like me, have not yet convinced yourself to get a back up system in place, do it now.

I used to back up every three days. No more. Now I will back up every morning to avoid losing even the few e-mails I did, which was a huge problem since they just happened to contain some sensitive information that I had great difficulty obtaining again.

All this over an innocent little e-mail that is not an issue on her MacBook by the way, from someone I know and trust. Imagine the danger out there from people you don't know.

I will never doubt the power of back up again. You shouldn’t either.
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 03:26 PM   #2
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Just backup hourly with Time Machine (automated). Time Machine FTW.
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 03:38 PM   #3
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But... I thought Macs never crashed...

Yeah, backing up is a good idea. I use my Zip disks to back up everything on my G3, and I have an external 15 GB drive hooked up to my laptop (it's only 30 gigs anyways, why bother with a massive hard drive?). When my G3 crashed back in June, and initialized its own disk, it was great having all my files backed up and ready to go.
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 03:42 PM   #4
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No matter how you back up. Mail and AddressBook data are the most vulnerable to system problems.

I suggest that you change your Mail settings. Mail>Preferences>Accounts>Advanced (location may vary). There is a setting that will allow you to delete mail from server. I use one month after I delete from my box but one week will do nicely for those with busier accounts.

Beyond that I save any eMails that are important to me outside of the Mail data base. A bit more work but eMail clients were never intended to be lifelong archives.
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 04:01 PM   #5
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Sounds like you should do some maintenance on your Mail storage. I have written here about this a bunch of times for various Mail problems.

There is a database that codes the comings and goings of each piece of mail. It builds up over time, partly because while it records the deletion of a message the record for that message remains. It also corrupts. Symptoms are bad message counts, phantom messages, missing messages, outright crashes, among others. That database is called the Envelope Index:
Envelope Index.jpg
  1. quit Mail.app
  2. drag Envelope Index to the desktop (note size)
  3. restart Mail and let it Import your mail - this rewrites the database clean and fresh with no orphan references (you may find that the new Envelope Index is (substantially if you've never done this and have been carrying mail from one system to another and/or upgrading OSs) smaller. Mail will also seem livelier - Bonus!
  4. destroy old Envelope Index
  5. it is probably unnecessary to say "backup first"
I commend your attention to this discussion at HawkWings
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 07:27 PM   #6
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So say we all.

But, rgray, I have LOTS of email (and lots of attachments). Does this process take long?
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 07:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkscot View Post
So say we all.

But, rgray, I have LOTS of email (and lots of attachments). Does this process take long?
It takes a bit of time, especially if never done before. The more mail the longer it takes.

Vacuum Mail is a little application that automates the process.
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 08:22 PM   #8
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Thanks for this info. Will do this tonight, after the kids are in bed.
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Old Dec 16th, 2008, 07:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgray View Post
It takes a bit of time, especially if never done before. The more mail the longer it takes.

Vacuum Mail is a little application that automates the process.
Interesting to note that when I reinstalled my system using Time Machine, it automatically did exactly this and imported all of my mail in the manner you described.

To be sure I followed your instructions and noted the file size as you suggested. The second file size was identical which confirmed it had been done by the Time Machine process.
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Old Dec 16th, 2008, 07:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SINC View Post
Interesting to note that when I reinstalled my system using Time Machine, it automatically did exactly this and imported all of my mail in the manner you described.

To be sure I followed your instructions and noted the file size as you suggested. The second file size was identical which confirmed it had been done by the Time Machine process.
Thanks a lot for posting this reply. Very interesting!

It is nice to get feedback when one posts a tip.

Mail.app users should consider this Envelope Index/VacuumMail process ESSENTIAL maintenance for a healthy mail system.
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