December 26, 2011

Mac nerd friends: A little help here?

“Hello, my name is John, and I practice unprotected computing…” (“Hello, John.”)

Until I upgraded my Mac to Lion, I was a rigorous user of Time Machine: I’d plug in a Drobo at work, and I’d connect to a Time Capsule at home. It paid off when my hard drive died & my bacon was saved.

Ever since moving to Lion, though, I’ve been unable to back up. Connecting to either backup produces a “Preparing to back up” cycle that can last for hours or even days. It’s unusable to the point that I think I should just wipe the backups and start fresh.

Here’s where more problems ensue, however:

  • Deleting the backup from the Drobo was incredibly slow, to the point that I reformatted the drives and thus somehow rendered them inoperable (!). I need to carve out time to work with Drobo tech support, but I haven’t been able yet.
  • I can’t wipe my Time Capsule (which contains other data), and due to space constraints, I can’t start a new Time Machine backup without trashing the first. I fear the process taking more hours or days.
  • Okay, fine–for now I’ll just buy a new, fresh, cheap hard drive. Without doing research (!), I grabbed a big Seagate 2TB USB 3.0 drive. “No prob,” I figured, “this thing should be USB 2.0-compatible and more future-proof.” Now, however…
  • After reformatting the drive, Time Machine backups continuously fail. Things seems to go great for tens or even hundreds of GB of data–then simply stall out forever. This has happened several times, always at different points, even across reformatting.
  • Okay, fine–forget Time Machine, let’s do Carbon Copy Cloner. Unfortunately, even after reformatting (again) per CCC’s instructions, the backup failed ~66GB in. Given the TM failures, I’m not inclined to try again.

So, here’s what I’m wondering:

  • Is there something wrong with the data on my Mac–something that would cause old backups to stall & new ones to fail?  And if so, is there a diagnostic I can run to find & hopefully fix the problem?
  • Is there something screwy with Mac OS support for USB 3.0 devices?
  • Is there something screwy with this particular drive?

My Google-fu has failed to provide a solution, so thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide.

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