A Damsel In Distress

DiskWarrior to the Rescue

A couple of weeks ago it was my turn to have a computer disaster. It’s been over a decade since I had any serious issue, so I’ve been very lucky. On this occasion, a power outage caused my OS to stagger, then finally topple over. Power outages have never caused any problem before, but I recently updated to El Capitan on this old machine, and it wasn’t a “clean” install. I just let Apple dump it on top of the old OS. I’d already done that a couple of times, and it appears to have whinged about it.

I used to own DiskWarrior. I owned it against just such a day, dutifully upgrading without ever having the disastrous need for it that I was now presented with. Most of my data was backed up, but I honestly didn’t want to wipe the OS drive and install everything from scratch, nor did I have a backup of my Mail for the last 3 months, although that wasn’t really critical. I wanted whatever could be saved to be saved so I could continue to be my usual lazy self and get back to creating as quickly as possible. Fortunately I was somewhat prepared with a backup boot drive. I bought DiskWarrior again, fingers crossed that it would save me some bother, and with the new understanding that if I ran it monthly, it might actually help protect me against OS crashes like this going forward.

Screenshot of DiskWarrior's dialog box.
After rebuilding the broken directory using a combination of DiskWarrior and Apple’s Disk Utility, a nice green status bar. When the green bar becomes low enough, it turns yellow, indicating the directory could use a bit of fixing.

I got lucky. DiskWarrior repaired the directory system enough that almost all of my data was there, all my applications remained (although I appear to have lost activation for some (not Adobe), and I only had to reinstall the OS—yes, still lazy and I installed it on top of what was there. But that was the whole point. I just didn’t feel like spending a couple of weeks tracking down every app and serial number and doing all that setup. At least Adobe’s Creative Cloud makes that easy, but most of my “support” apps don’t. I would rather spend more time ensuring I was completely up-to-date with multiple backups.

Finder screenshot of damaged files

Finder screenshot of missing files
A few files were damaged beyond DiskWarrior’s ability to repair. Nothing is thrown away, however, Not only does the user get a chance to preview any changes about to be made, but anything DiskWarrior can’t put back properly is preserved, just in case you can figure out how to repair or replace the files, and what folders the errant files belong to.

The takeaway from all this is that I, and probably many others, will never quite do enough. We’re not IT folk who spend our days maintaining and safeguarding all our data—both system related and what we create. Something might get lost. However, we need to make sure we’re as redundant as is reasonable. Anyone reading this blog is probably here because s/he creates art and preserves history, and that effort shouldn’t be lost just because we no longer work with analog materials. Multiple storage solutions along with finding a relative or good friend who will keep some discs and/or hard drives off-site for us, and a regularly scheduled system for backing up to these solutions is as important as the time we put in to the creative side of working with computers.

Good software like DiskWarrior for the Mac, or easy to use, flexible, yet complete systems for automatically backing up our data, and being redundant in our backups, doesn’t come cheap. But neither does our time come cheap that we spend acquiring the right equipment and assets, learning to use it all, and then developing our creativity to make meaningful art and historical documents. Be safe out there. I intend to attempt to do a bit more to be safe, even if I am basically very lazy and this stuff bores me half to death.

Daily Planner for Trump Administration
From my new Democracy series, the White House and Congressional Daily Planners. Most of the elements came from Raspberry Road Designs.