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Today is Backup Awareness Day! [en]

Today is Backup Awareness Day! [en]

Two months ago, on February 24th, I hit the wrong “Drop” button in PhpMyAdmin, resulting in the immediate deletion of the blog you’re reading. I didn’t know when I had last backed it up.

The story ends well, though it cost me (and others) many hours (days, actually) of work to get the whole of Climb to the Stars back online again.

I’ve always been careless about backups. Like many of you, probably. We can afford to be careless because accidents don’t happen very often, and as with Black Swans, we are under the mistaken belief that having been safe in the past will keep us safe in the future. Not so. As I like to repeat, the first time a disaster happens, well, it had never happened till then.

So, I’ve decided to declare the 24th of each month “Backup Awareness Day”. Here’s what it’s about:

  • Back up your files.
  • Back up your website.
  • Blog about the importance of backing up (sharing tips, stories, advice).
  • Tell your friends to back up.
  • Help your friends back up.
  • Put in place automatic backup systems.

Bottom-line: decrease the number of people who never back up, or back up so infrequently they’ll be in a real mess if things go wrong.

Now, perfectionism is the biggest enemy to getting things done. Backup Awareness Day does not mean that you have to do all this. Here are a few ideas to get your started (better a bad backup than no backup at all):

  • If Time Machine (or any other regular backup system you use for your computer) has been telling you it hasn’t done a backup in ages, stop what you’re doing right now and plug it in.
  • If you use WordPress, when was the last time you went to Tools > Export to make a quick backup? It’s not the best way to do it, but in my case, it saved CTTS.
  • Do you use something like Mozy to have a remote backup of your most important files? Time to sign up, maybe.
  • Are you working on important documents that exist only on your computer, which is never backed up? At the minimum, pick up a thumb drive and copy them onto it — or send yourself an e-mail with the files as attachment, if your e-mail is stored outside your computer (Gmail, for example).
  • Do you have an automatic backup set up for your database or website? Set some time aside on Backup Awareness Day to figure out cron.
  • When did you make the last dump of your MySQL database? Head over to PhpMyAdmin, or the command line (it’s mysqldump --opt -u user -p databasename > my-dirty-backup.sql)
  • Do you have the backup thing all figured out? Write a post for your readers with a few tips or tutorials to help them along. (Tag your posts “backupawarenessday” — I thought about “BAD” but that wasn’t really optimal ;-))

I’m hoping to develop the concept more over the coming months. If you have ideas, get in touch, and take note of Backup Awareness Day for the month of May: Sunday 24th!

(Now stop reading and go do a few backups.)

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Solved Another MacBook Fan Problem! [en]

Solved Another MacBook Fan Problem! [en]

[fr] En recherchant la cause d'une trop grande activité du processeur (et donc du ventilateur) de son MacBook, ne pas oublier d'afficher "tous les processus" dans Activity Monitor. Sinon, on risque de rater MozyBackup, par exemple, qui a piqué une crise et décidé d'utiliser 99.6% du processeur...

Remember how happy I was after solving my print-queue-related MacBook fan problem? Well, for the last few days, my fan has been noisy again. I had a vague suspicion the noise coincided with when I reactivated my Mozy account and endeavoured the get my computer backed up again remotely. However, the fan remained noisy even when Mozy wasn’t uploading or being active.

A friend of mine dropped by on IM to help me troubleshoot. I went through Activity Monitor, sorted the processes by CPU, and closed off those that were using the most ressources — to no avail. The highest process on the list was using 4.5% of CPU ressources, and iStat Nano (a dashboard widget I heartily recommend) was still telling me my fan was running at around 6200rpm and my CPU temperature was approaching 70°C. I could also see that the graph depicting CPU activity was showing it pretty active overall.

I bit at loss over what to do next. Clicking around in iStat Nano, I noticed that at the top of the process list there was MozyBackup, using up 99.6% of my CPU! The reason this process didn’t appear in Activity Monitor was that I was filtering “My Processes” instead of viewing all processes, and MozyBackup was running as root.

Activity Monitor

I killed (force quit) MozyBackup, and it popped up again. I killed it again. And again. By that time, my friend had unearthed this article about Mozy Backup going crazy, where I learned that MozyBackup coming back from the dead was normal (it’s a feature).

Thankfully, once I’d killed MozyBackup a few times, it started behaving normally again, and as you can see on the screenshop posted above, it’s now happily backing up my data without squeezing all the ressources out of my poor old MacBook, which is now quiet again.

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