The CARS Total Backup Plan

“Speed reduced by disk malfunction”? Ooh. That doesn’t sound good.

My friends, have you accepted backup into your life as your personal savior?

You should.


I’m John and I am a hard drive failure SURVIVOR.

(Hi, John.)

Here is my story.

After hearing from this guy and that guy last week about how important it is to back up your data regularly, I decided to embark on my biennial backup routine (“Every other year, whether it’s needed or not!”, that was my motto!) of my MacBook Pro and my wife’s MacBook (the “Pro” is for “douchebag”).

The backups completed, I returned to the couch where I lie in a prone position shoving fistfuls of Screaming Yellow Zonkers into my face and railing against the government to no one in particular.

Occasionally, however, I break from this reverie to watch various forms of entertainment with my “special lady” (my wife, just to be clear). One show that we find full of jocularity is Community which we sometimes enjoy online through a crappy-assed interface known as “Flash”. That particular point is not salient to the discussion of backups, I just like to point out that Flash sucks.

Recently, however, her MacBook had been crapping out during our viewings. At first I thought it was just the battery dying. Then I thought it might be a video card. Then I thought maybe it just didn’t like Community. Then I thought it might be evil humours. Or the doings of that witch that lives across yonder field. Or Larry.

We still don’t know the root cause of the problem, but one thing we know as of last night is her disk is royally fucked up.

In olden days they would have said “‘Twas the backup that cause ye disk failure!” And then they would have stoned the backup disk and thrown it in a well. Fortunately, these are more enlightened times when we realize the cause is entirely unimportant. These things happen. Are you going to be a victim? ARE YOU?

Of course you’re not. Because you’re going to implement THE PATENTED CRAZY APPLE RUMORS 7-STEP PLAN FOR TOTAL BACKUP SECURITY.

Which I just made up this morning.

Did you know Kinko’s now has a patent office? You can get something patented in 15 minutes, unless there’s a line.


1. Weekly full backups – Use SuperDuper! or the backup software of your choice to make a copy of your whole disk.

2. Daily, incremental backups – with Time Machine or SuperDuper! or whatever.

3. Offsite storage – I can’t emphasize this enough. Here’s an example: I just Googled your name and found out where you live. I could drive over to your house RIGHT NOW, gain access to your house by pretending to be your mistress (OK, I’d have to stop at Ross Dress For Less first) and while your wife went off to make tea so that we could discuss this like civilized ladies before having a pillow fight (that’s what happens in these situations, right?), STEAL YOUR BACKUPS AND SLIP AWAY INTO THE NIGHT. Or day. Whatever. The point is, in a matter of moments of gaining entry to your house, I’d be running down the street with your LaCies. In a dress.

Assuming the lure of the pillow fight wasn’t too great. Which is not at all a safe assumption.

Anyway, there are any number of facilities in the Mojave desert that will rent you gigantic storage facilities starting at just $500,000 a month. Don’t your family pictures deserve the same level of secure storage as our government’s cyborgs? DON’T THEY?

4. Rotation – This is a vital component to offsite storage. Your data will never stay fresh unless you rotate it frequently. That’s why every two weeks I drive out to the Mojave desert and turn all the hard drives a quarter turn. That may seem like a pain, but it’s nothing compared to losing a Word document of ideas (“Vanity social security numbers. Kevlar manatee. Soup?”) or a piano cat video.

5. Off-planet storage – You only have to see 2012 once to see how this pays for itself. And you really only should see it once, if at all. But don’t see it in 3D. That’s just bullshit. It’s like $6 extra dollars to see some ash falling in front of your face.

6. Alternate media – Hard drives are great and they sure are fun to whip at cars on the interstate late at night, but one giant electromagnetic pulse and kiss your ones and zeros good bye. That’s why I painstakingly write out all the ones and zeros that make up the data on my hard drive no fewer than three times a day on the wall in the safe room in my basement.

Now, people may laugh when you tell them you do this, but they’ll only laugh once.

They tend to get uncomfortable when they realize you’re not kidding and then they pretend their cell phone is ringing.

7. Sacrifice to Gorto – This one needs no explanation.


Implement this system NOW. Don’t wait for data failure to take advantage of you like that college English professor!

What? You ended up marrying him?

Three kids?


Hey, have you seen the Rickster recently? Whatever happened to that guy?!

Investment banking? Suicide? Ha-ha! Oh, man, that guy cracks me up!

59 thoughts on “The CARS Total Backup Plan”

  1. iMoo, FYI Community rocks! Right up there with Modern Family. Best new shows on TV this year.

  2. I hope you’re using a color-safe ink for those handwritten bit backups. Oh how I pray for us all.

    By the way: I wouldn’t trust anything lower than a Nikon D5000 and a prime lens for hard drive imaging. Just think of all the bit-rot in a single spot of blur.

  3. Well, I don’t even know what really you call «MacBook», Pros or Cons.
    I only bake up bread. And brioche. An dsome other tasty things I won’t tell because I’m not sure your MacThings are waterproof.

    Back (up) to beer, now.

  4. Go ahead, google my name. See what it gets you. In the meantime, I’ll just back away slowly.

    And remember, an unverified backup is the same as no backup as all.

  5. Hey Moltz, this is like exactly the same thing that John Gruber posted. I know why!

    John Moltz is John Gruber!

  6. I can proudly say I currently implement steps 1,2,3 and 4, while my Pantsâ„¢ add step 7.
    All I gotta say about that is, ‘ew’. I hate cleaning up afterward.

  7. Oh yeah, start a new post while I’m just clicking ‘reload this page’ every time on the old one like a complete dipstick.

    You utter bastards.

    I’m backing up. My 11 year old Vectra. Over your tootsies.

    Although as I’m British I’ll probably apologise immediately afterwards and then tap off Julia Roberts.

    Also, good use of ‘LaCie’ in post, John. Although I didn’t find it funny as I pronounce it the wrong way. And therefore don’t know why I’m typing this.

  8. What’s 8? There has to be another step. I checked and Gorto was taken out by a pillow!

    Long live Gorto!

    Reload, Back it up, M*Cracker!

  9. Gorto… always reminds me of Glaarku, who always reminds me of Cthulhu.

    Sure wish they’d stop that.

  10. What I like most about backups is the little “beep beep” noise you hear when you’re doing it.

    Backing up, I mean.

  11. [backup] Is there anyone [backup] here who could re- [backup] recommend a [backup] good cure? [backup]


  12. I’ve found that if you can rotate in place, you can avoid backing up entirely.

    Which is weird, because hard disk platters rotate in place, yet if you don’t back up, and something goes wrong, you’re toast.

  13. Classic. I’m so glad this is back. Does this backup plan work for those of us who refuse to upgrade from System 9.2? (You guys should see how fast it goes on an 8-core Mac Pro! Okay, not very, but still.)

  14. Is it just me, or does ‘System 9’ now sound like an old sci-fi movie?

    Possibly the kind that predicted we’d be living in cloud cities served by robot butlers ‘by the year 2010’.

    Anyone? Anyone?

    Oh, it *is* just me then.

  15. If one were to substitute “cyborg monkey butlers” for “robot butlers” and “3010” for “2010” that’d have it sorted.

  16. Alas I’m both, Benny.

    I need one of them thar Cyborg Monkey Personal Trainers everyone’s talking about. In the future.

  17. BroMu,
    Why do you want to personally train Cyborg Monkeys?

    It is not fwightfully Bwitish.

  18. Nxxx, have you never read much Warren Ellis?

    I’m surprised I won’t be training the Cyborg Monkeys to Spank themselves.

  19. So, if you put a whole bunch of Cyborg Monkeys in front of typewriters, you’d get what? The entire works of Arthur C. Clarke?

    Oh, and a Mr. Schroedinger called. He said keep the monkeys, he prefers cats.

  20. Brother, my favorite item from Transmetropolitan was the disembowler gun. Maybe we could get Del to build one and test it out on the cyborg monkeys.

  21. How many cyborg monkeys does it take to screw in a light bulb, provided they could fit in there?

  22. Cyborg Nanobot Monkey Butlers might fit in there. There isn’t much monkey left in a nanobot version, though.

  23. Steve, who needs Del when we could just use a Maker.

    Come to think of it, did anyone notice that when John posted that ‘in my crib’ video he had a Maker set to ‘Gruber’?

    What could it mean, I wonder?

  24. Why would anyone want to make a Gruber?

    And, if Magnanimous Wang is correct, and Moltz is Gruber, why would he want to make himself?

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