The Blog

Nov 10, 2007

Fattening the Cat 

by Maxim Porges @ 2:32 PM | Link | Feedback (0)

So now that I've had Leopard on my old Quicksilver G4 tower for two weeks, I decided to put Time Machine to the ultimate test.

Die Hard (Drive)
My G4 came with a 60 GB hard drive when I bought it, and I put an 80 GB drive in the expansion bay to use as a scratch disk for audio/video fun-ness and as a backup. When I got Leopard, I archived all the stuff on the 80 GB secondary drive so I could use it as a backup disk for Time Machine.

The G4 tower has pretty much been relegated to file serving for the PowerBook G4 in the living room (think totally overpowered AppleTV) since I keep my shared iTunes and iPhoto libraries on it. I also use if for new OS testing (obviously). However, considering the fact that my latest iPod is an 80 GB model and I can't even get 60 GB on the G4's main drive, it was time for an upgrade.

Earlier in the year, I bought a 250 GB MyBook USB drive to use with Airport Extreme's Airport Disk mode, but to be honest I haven't been very impressed. I seem to get better performance/reliability by just sharing drives over my network and connecting to them wirelessly that way. Since Leopard makes network sharing even simpler than previous versions of OS X, I figured I would retire the MyBook from Airport Disk duty and use it as a Time Machine backup for a new, larger main drive in the G4. $70 on NewEgg later, I had a 250 GB Seagate Barracuda on my doorstep to use as the G4's new main squeeze.

With it being a lazy Saturday and all, I figured I'd just pop it in the Mac this morning and reinstall Leopard while programming; after all, I performed the installation of the 80 GB scratch drive after coming home buzzed from a night out, so I figured it would take all of ten minutes for me to get the new 250 GB Seagate in.

What I didn't anticipate was that the screw holding my hard drive enclosure in was completely stripped. I probably did that when I installed my last drive (I have a tendency to overtighten screws, whether working on cars, PCs, furniture, or whatever). I tried everything from gripping the screw with pliers (not enough head to grip on since the screw is low profile), using an Allen bit (none would fit the gouged screw head well enough to twist), and trying to bash a Phillips head in with a hammer to get purchase (I was too much of a pussy to bash too hard in case I wrecked my Mac).

Nothing worked. Damn it.

Off to Ace Hardware I go, and sure enough, their very smallest extractor screw was just about the same size as the tiny hard drive screw. I got home, pulled out the electric drill, and gently/slowly drilled a hole in to the old screw (since the last thing you want flying around your Mac's innards are little metal shavings). Unfortunately, my old hard drives were stacked one on the other above the screw, and naturally neither the 5/16 drill bit nor the extractor were long enough to go in properly.

Great. Fine.

F**k it.

I got a large drill bit and polished the head right off the old screw. Out popped the hard drive enclosure. Now that I had enough room to work, I drilled all the way through the old screw and gave the extractor one last shot. Sure enough, the entire old thread assembly came out on the tip, and I was left with a perfectly threaded opening that was still completely usable.

Time for Time Machine
I've got Leopard purring away on the install right now, after which we'll see if TIme Machine can live up to all the hype and restore my system the way I want it.

I don't want to do a full restore, which is a shame because it's actually stupidly easy. If your hard drive ever burns out, all you need to do is drop in a new drive, pop in the Leopard disk, and you can actually restore your Mac in the Leopard installer using a Time Machine backup drive, resulting in a perfect restoration of your machine at the point of your last hourly Time Machine snapshot.

As opposed to this, what I want to do is just pull over my old user directory to get all my files, after which I'll reinstall all my apps myself. This is achieved with our good old buddy Migration Assistant. Migration Assistant will pull files from either another Mac connected via USB or FireWire (and probably over the network too), or from a Time Machine backup. I ran through the process as an experiement before I got going on the hard drive replacement, and you can basically pick individual user folders, and then either just your Applications directory, or just the root of your old OS X installation.

However, if you pick either the root of your old OS X installation or the Applications directory, then Migration Assistant will automatically copy over your old Library from the backed up OS X installation. This is necessary for all your apps to work properly (since shared libraries and config files your apps rely on live in the Library). The thing is, I don't want my old Library since I have a bunch of hacks in it from when I set my Quicksilver G4 up as a dev server a long time ago. So, while it will take me longer to reinstall everything myself, at least my system will be spick and span when I'm done.

So, what to do with the old 60 GB main drive? I think I'll get a portable FireWire enclosure for it and will use it as a scratch disk for audio/video editing on my laptop. Funny how things go full circle, isn't it? :)