Meeting Notes

Backup, Maintenance, Troubleshooting

June 2013


  • Backup — protect important information
  • Maintenance — improve Mac performance and avoid problems
  • Troubleshooting — find and fix problems


There are only two types of computer users in the world — those that backup, and those that eventually wish they had! – Patrick Rhone, Minimal Mac

Why backup
  • Hard drive failure — 1.7% failure rate for 1 yr old drives; 8.6% failure rate for 3 yr old drives
  • Disaster — lightning, fire, tornado, hurrricane
  • Theft
  • Spill coffee on your laptop; drop your computer
  • PEBKAC and ID–10T errors
What to backup
  • Irreplaceable photos, videos, financial information, documents,system settings, program settings, mail
  • If nothing is irreplaceable, then don’t bother
When to backup
  • how much data can you afford to lose — 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year
Backup strategy
  • It must be automatic – you won’t remember to run backups on a regular basis. — set it and forget it.
  • It must be redundant – One backup is not a backup. Sure, it’s better than nothing,
  • A copy must be off site – When really bad stuff happens, it happens. You’re likely to lose both.
  • Your backups must be tested regularly – remember your backups can fail too.
Where to store backups
  • Local: External drives
  • Media — DVD, CD (rapidly disappearing)
  • Off-site
  • Internet — in the “cloud”
How to backup
  • Automate the process so you won’t forget!
  • Software
    • time machine
    • carbon copy cloner
    • superduper
  • In the Cloud
    • dropbox, crashplan, backblaze, carbonite, spider oak, sugarsync
Minimal plan
  • Make bootable clone of entire disk (CCC or SD) – update regularly
  • Or – use Time Machine for versioned backups
  • Make backups of videos and other large files on USB drives
Better (3–2–1) plan
  • Recommended by many experts
  • 3 backups; 2 onsite; 1 offsite
  • Backups
    • 1 bootable clone – update regularly
    • 1 versioned backups of important files (Time Machine)
    • 1 offsite clone or Internet storage
  • As needed
    • backups of videos and other large files on DVD or separate external drive
Best (3–2–1 Plus)
  • Create daily clone backup on disk 1
  • Use a second off-site clone disk; rotate weekly with disk 1
  • Use cloud storage for important files
  • Create archives of photos, other important files; store off-site
  • Make a GoStick with settings, passwords, personal knowledge base
My Srategy
  • Local
    • Bootable clone of initial “clean” OS X installation
    • Bootable clone of primary disk — updated daily
    • GoStick with passwords, settings, critical documents (PDF and text)
  • Off-site
    • Dropbox – working files, settings, passwords
    • Backblaze – important data files
    • Second bootable clone of primary disk — updated quarterly
    • Safe deposit box – family photos and financial records on DVD
Your Strategy
  • Decide your level of paranoia and fear
  • Choose a strategy
  • Obtain hardware, software, off-site accounts
  • Set up drives, software, accounts
  • Just Do It! (and do it regularly)


Initial Tasks
  • Run full backup before you start (TimeMachine, CCC, SD!)
  • Update your software (MAS, AppFresh)
  • Free Up Disk Space
    • Delete unneeded files (OmniDiskSweeper, Disk Inventory X, Gemini, Monolingual, Duplicate Annihilator)
    • Delete old applications (AppCleaner), or move to external drive
    • Turn off unneeded login items (System Preferences > User)
  • Clear System Caches, Logs & Settings
    • Empty the trash
    • Clear Caches & Logs (Onyx)
    • Clear Internet Files – Cookies, caches, temporary files. (Onyx)
  • Don’t Forget the Hardware
    • Clean your screen
    • Clean your keyboard and mouse
    • Blow the dust out
  • Simplify
    • Remove unneded items from the dock
    • Keep the computer desktop free of icons (Unclutter)
    • Use simple desktop backgrounds
  • Daily
    • update backup
  • Weekly
    • clean up desktop
    • empty download folder
    • empty trash
  • Monthly
    • check disk for errors
    • clean caches — Onyx
    • test backups
    • exercise laptop battery
  • As Needed
    • update software
    • get rid of unneeded files
    • make archival backups
    • clean hardware


Warning signs
  • If it seems like it is broken, then it probably is
  • Frozen Logos & Question Marks
    • Possible corrupt OSX installation.
    • Restarting in Safe Mode might help, and if that doesn’t work, an Archive and Install might be a more drastic yet applicable option.
    • Flashing question mark on a folder or a circle with a slash - possible corrupt OSX installation or a failed or failing hard drive.
  • Weird Startup Tones
    • Beep codes
    • Bad RAM, logic board, power manager, video card
  • Powering up won’t work
    • Dead battery, bad AC adapter
    • PRAM problems (reset PRAM)
    • Bad power supply (did you hear a pop?)
    • Bad logic board (fans running, but no start)
    • Bad fan (if you hear it making revving noises)
    • Squealing, whining, chirping – failing or failed hard drive
    • Freezing sometimes works on older drives, but not modern ones
  • Kernal Panics
    • Your Mac’s “ouch I hurt myself” notification
    • If regular, bad RAM, hard drive corruption, hardware problems
  • Blue screens, blank desktops
    • Corrupt fonts, bad preference list
    • Try booting in safe mode (restart with the Shift key down). All startup files and kernel extensions are disabled when you are in Safe Mode. If things are better while you are running in Safe Mode, then your Mac’s problems are almost assuredly being caused by a software problem (i.e. one of the bits of software disabled while you are in Safe Mode is the cause of your problem). Conversely, if you still have a RBB problem while running in Safe Mode, it is highly likely that the problem is a hardware one, not a software one.
  • Rotating Beach Ball (RBB) — a “wait” cursor
    • Outdated software, incompatible software, hardware problem, lack of free space on hard drive
    • Boot into safe mode, then restart (restart with the Shift key down)
    • Repair permissions (Disk Utility, Onyx)
    • Clear caches (Onyx)
    • Run Activity Monitor – CPU header – All processes – see what is taking the time
    • Corrupted spotlight index (if you see mds and mdimport causing the problem)
    • Turn off all software running in the background
      • System Prefs > Accounts > Login items
  • Slow Mail
    • Mailbox > Rebuild (or quit Mail and restart)
  • Slow Browser, or RBB only in browser
    • Reset Safari (you will lose your cookies, saved names, autofill items)
    • Get Flash Uninstaller and use it to remove Flash
    • Download latest version of Flash and install it
    • Delete quicktime preferences
    • ~/Library/Preferences/
    • Delete Flash cookies
    • ~/Library/Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player/#SharedObjects
    • ~/Library/Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player/
What to do
  • Isolate the problem
    • What, when, software or hardware, isolate a device, isolate an app, read the manual
  • Check hard drive free space (Apple Menu > About This Mac > More Info)
  • Check your hard drive health with Voltans Smart Utility or TechTools Pro
  • Unplug your peripherals and see if this helps
  • Boot in safe mode and see if this helps
  • Test RAM with Apple’s Hardware Test or Rember
  • Search Google!
  • Ask your question on the OMUG Discussion Group
  • Ask one of the OMUG Tech Team volunteers