The personal website of Chris Coyier

Crisis Averted

Yesterday, I tried restarting my iMac and it wouldn’t boot up. Uh oh. I tried rebooting many times and sometimes it would even get all the way started and then freeze. It became clear to me it was a failing hard drive. Fortunately, I use Time Machine to back up my data to my Drobo.

I made an appointment at an Apple Store right away, even choosing one in a farther away city so I could get the early appointment and be the first in line. My appointment was for 9:40am and when I got there the sign on the door said open at 10:00am, which would have been amusing under most circumstances. They did let me in though. It was indeed a bad hard drive. They had one in stock and replaced the same day for me. They also pulled some lint out of my iPhone’s headphone jack which had been ailing me. Great service from the “geniuses”.

I wasn’t worried about losing the drive, as I said, I was backed up with Time Machine. When I got home, I fired it up and went through the regular set up process of a fresh Leopard install. I had my Drobo hooked up, so when I got to the Migration Assistant part, I figured it would just see that and I’d be able to restore. But M.A. didn’t see it. Uh oh.

Then I remembered I was using Time Tamer on the Drobo.

One problem with Time Machine is that it’s almost TOO simple. You just kinda set it and forget it, there aren’t many options. So when you target it at a backup drive, it will just keep making backups on that drive until that drive is absolutely full. Well I’ll be damned if I can dedicate my entire gigantic Drobo to this purpose. Time Tamer creates a special disk image on the Drobo that Time Machine will automatically target. When Time Machine does a backup, it sees this disk image, mounts it, backs up to that, and unmounts it. That way this special disk image can be whatever size you need, not filling up your entire Drobo.

That’s fine and dandy, but that means the “disk” that would be recognized by the Migration Assistant as a valid Time Machine backup disk is not mounted and thus cannot be seen. So in essence, you gotta get that disk image mounted somehow.

The only way I found to do it was to continue with setup NOT doing the migration assistant, booting up into the Finder, then mounting the drive manually and running the Migration Assistant fresh (it’s in the Utilities folder). What I screwed up is that I created an account while going through the bogus setup that is identical (in User Name and Shortname) to the account I wanted to transfer. So now I have a stupid name, chriscoyier2, which is unchangeable.

The other thing I somehow amazingly botched was that at some point I told Time Machine to NOT back up my applications folder. For the love of god. So here I start my journey reinstalling every single god damn application I need. The one I’m looking forward to least is VMWare and Windows XP.