Computer Saga Almost Done

Well, getting a new hard drive did not work to free me from my two main computer complaints. The first was that the “Other” category on my internal hard drive was getting huge, and it seemed logical to me that this was at least part of the reason my computer was sluggish.

This screenshot was taken in December when I first noticed.

2015 stupid other dec16.png

By March it was even worse.

The computer repair guys diagnosed a failing hard drive and replaced it for me, and thoroughly dusted out my Mac, then kindly transferred my data from my old hard drive to my new hard drive. Unfortunately, while this is wonderful for making it easier to carry on computing with all my preferences saved, it did not get rid of the huge yellow “Other” category at all, even with moving a bunch of iMovie movies off the internal drive to an external.

The other problem, which I’d been having since December, was a stuck document. It was an Excel document from my husband’s work that had been backed up on one of my external hard drives. In the process of reorganizing files after I got my newest external drive in November, this errant document got stuck in my recycle bin. Whenever I attempted to empty the bin, everything except this stuck document would delete, and I’d get this error message.

same cant empty trash error.png

I tried finding help online but wasn’t getting much. Not that I tried very hard because it’s not so much a functional problem as an aesthetic, organizational one. I like to keep  my bin empty!

It occurred to me that starting all over with a clean install of the internal hard drive should get rid of the problems. I took the computer back to the repair shop and asked them to do that. It worked beautifully for getting rid of the Other clutter, of course. My computer ran smoothly, with almost no beach balls, even running Lightroom! (Thanks Heart and Soul Computer Sales and Service on Route 3 in Fredericksburg!)  It was like I had a new computer  . . .  until I plugged in the external drives.

So the problem of the stuck document was related to one of the external drives, although just before I fully understood this, I had the NOT brilliant idea to drag the stuck document out of the trash onto the desktop, thinking I’d delete it again for good. But as soon as I dropped it, I realized it wasn’t going to delete because when you drag items from one drive to another, you make copies. So now I had TWO copies of the errant document: one on my internal drive on the desktop and one in the recycle bin but from my external hard drive.

Impatient to wait to go to the repair shop again, I decided to summon Apple support. Trying to use the chat support did not work well, but calling on the phone was much better. I even learned a new keyboard shortcut for bringing up the Spotlight search during the long phone call during which we tried many things that didn’t work and I was moved up to a senior advisor.

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I also did some more reading online, including returning to a thread about this very problem that I’d started in the Apple support forums at the end of December that I’d forgotten about.

Ultimately, what I had to do is reformat both the drives. It was easy to do this for my external drive, as I’d done it before. I just had to google directions for a reminder. Here are a couple of pictures I made during that long process.

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You can see the errant stuck document, which is NOT selected to be transferred to my 5Tb drive temporarily so I could reformat my 3Tb My Book.

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Then before I heard back from the Apple senior advisor, who I’d asked to call me back when I realized reformatting my internal drive was probably the thing to do too, to get rid of the copy on my desktop, I spent some time reading a few articles about reformatting internal drives and making sure I understood how to reinstall the the operating system. It helped me to be brave knowing I have good tech support guys just 5 minutes away and an Apple senior advisor’s phone number and email address.

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It was a success!  It really does feel like I have a new computer now. That obnoxious yellow Other category is only 73Gb after almost a week of photoshopping, lightrooming, emailing, web-surfing, and backblazing. Caroline has even made a few iMovie videos for her YouTube channel. And all copies of that stuck document are finally completely gone!

But wait! My title for this post says “almost done.” What’s left? A Backblaze initial back-up. I briefly considered leaving Backblaze last week when the Transfer Backup State didn’t work. I have been using Backblaze for several years and have been happy with it, but I don’t understand why it can’t just connect my new hard drive and old external drives (which haven’t changed much) to the data they have stored for me. After a few emails back and forth with Backblaze tech support about Transfer Backup State not working and then  being told I’d just have to start all over doing an initial back up, which will take months, I decided this would be a good time to consider other back up options.

Crashplan was first to come to mind. A lot of fellow ClickinMoms members prefer Crashplan because it saves multiple versions of everything, even if it’s deleted from my own machine. Last year I noticed that I was missing a couple weeks of photos from several years ago. Who knows when or why they disappeared, but no doubt they were gone from Backblaze because if Backblaze doesn’t see it on my computer for a month, it’s deleted. Fortunately, I also back up my pictures to Smugmug, so they were not lost, but I still thought this was a desirable feature.

However, the more I read, the more I wanted to stay with Backblaze. Primarily because it has repeatedly been rated faster (so it’s named well!). Also, as suggested by Jordan Shirkman in his funny blog post, Backblaze vs. Crashplan, “+1 to Backblaze for not promoting hoarding.” The versioning feature is really  just going to lead to clutter. I wouldn’t want to wade through all that if I had to restore with them.

It was the evening of St. Patrick’s Day when I started up Backblaze again. It counted 574,682 files adding up to 3,208,737 Mb when it started. I put it on full throttle, told my computer it can never sleep until this task is done, and, the next day, increased the number of uploading threads to 4 (at the advice of the Backblaze tech support guy with whom I’d been corresponding, who, by the way, had agreed I might prefer Crashplan and didn’t argue to try to keep me).  As I type this 5 days later, here’s a screen shot of the Backblaze status:

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 5.07.23 PM.png

Look at that! It happened to be backing up a photo from the VaHomeschoolers conference 3 years ago. It’s almost time for this year’s conference, coming up April 1-2. If you’re homeschooling in Virginia, don’t miss out!

The Backblaze tech guy predicted a month and a half — much better than the 110 days the Backblaze app predicted based on standard settings — and I still haven’t caught up on photo processing. I have continued making photographs every day with my DSLR, but I haven’t finished processing them or uploading them. I think I will today though!  So when I’m back into my daily shooting, processing, and sharing habit AND Backblaze is done backing up all my old stuff and working only on my new stuff every day, then my current computer saga will be done. And hopefully there won’t be another one for a very long time.

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