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Against All Elements, Part 3

Part 3: Staying Afloat

A CrashPlan Customer Data Rescue Story

Post 3 of 4 that tells the story of mastering engineer Drew Lavyne and how online backup with CrashPlan helped his business weather last October’s hurricane.

Guest post by Joe Kissell, author of Take Control of CrashPlan Backups

See Post 1, Post 2


Drew said, “At first everything was floating around the house. For sure there was water up into the first floor, probably chest high. Then the water receded, and as it receded it snapped the gas grills off of everyone’s back decks, which were connected to the main line from the gas company, and there was free-flowing gas for a few hours.” The gas ignited, and because of the flooding, neither fire trucks nor utility trucks could reach the scene to do anything about it.

“A hundred and twenty or so houses went up in fire in the space of a few hours,” Drew said. Drew’s house and studio, and every other house in the neighborhood, burned to the ground—ironically, while surrounded by water.

The insurance Drew had just purchased was more than adequate to pay for his lost gear, although not enough to replace all his family’s possessions. Drew emphasized that as disappointing as that was, no one died and only property was lost. Still, the entire experience was deeply disturbing. “I don’t recommend it,” he said pointedly.

Once he bought a new Mac, he requested that Code 42 Software send his data on a hard drive so he could restore it as quickly as possible. “They sent me a drive, and they were nice enough to do it for half price when I told them my story,” he said.

The restoration process wasn’t without some hiccups. Drew would have liked to receive a disk with all his files already in their original formats and locations, but that’s not how CrashPlan works. So he decided the best way to get the result he wanted was first to restore all the files from CrashPlan onto a second, empty external drive, and then use Mac OS X’s Migration Assistant utility to move the files from that drive to his new Mac’s startup disk. “When you call for a restore, they don’t send you a formatted FireWire drive with Mac OS X on it, they send you something in CrashPlan ‘language’ that needs to be deciphered by the CrashPlan program. And that parks everything where it was. It puts your photos back where Aperture expects to see them, it puts your music back where iTunes expects it to be pointing to. It puts my mastering folder back where I parked it in my home folder.”

That procedure worked well enough, although it took about six or seven hours in all—mostly, Drew thinks, because of the relatively slow USB 2.0 interface on the recovery drive he received. Even then, however, he wasn’t done. Drew explained that CrashPlan “doesn’t restore [serial numbers] that your software may need to operate. That means you have to go track down serial numbers for everything. In my case, it was a pretty laborious process because everything I use requires a serial number and/or a hardware dongle.” Some of those dongles were lost in the fire and had to be replaced. “So there was a bit of confusion on the system’s part because it thought it was the old machine, but every machine has a unique hardware ID, so when all the old stuff got parked on the new machine, it was going, ‘Where am I?’ That happened to me about a hundred times. Everything was there but it needed to be shown where to go.”


Come back next Friday for Part Four.

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