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Mike M



Joined: 12-Aug-16 02:01
Messages: 47
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I really liked QRecall during my trial period and I purchased a key. I'm going to be browsing the manual to learn more about the technical features, but one thing I would like to understand is whether QRecall can be used to restore the entire state of a Mac.

Thus far I have just been backing up my user directory, so I'm not backing up any apps or the OS or anything else. I know that the term "cloning" applies to making a copy of entire drives. But I am not sure that is what I want.

What I would like to do is back up all my files on a regular schedule. Sometimes I make use of backups to look at old versions in the case that I accidentally delete or modify a file. The other situation is a total failure of my main hard drive, in which case I would like to set up the entire drive or partition just the way it used to be. Is it possible to handle both of these use cases in a single type of backup operation?

Mike
James Bucanek



Joined: 14-Feb-07 10:05
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Mike M wrote:I really liked QRecall during my trial period and I purchased a key.

Welcome aboard!

Thus far I have just been backing up my user directory, so I'm not backing up any apps or the OS or anything else. I know that the term "cloning" applies to making a copy of entire drives. But I am not sure that is what I want.

QRecall works quit differently than almost any other backup solution you'll fine. The term "cloning" does apply at all.

QRecall always capture the changes—and just the changes—made to your files. Conceptually, it preserves every version of every item it captures. Its de-duplication logic means that those copies are stored in the least amount of space possible.

What I would like to do is back up all my files on a regular schedule. Sometimes I make use of backups to look at old versions in the case that I accidentally delete or modify a file. The other situation is a total failure of my main hard drive, in which case I would like to set up the entire drive or partition just the way it used to be. Is it possible to handle both of these use cases in a single type of backup operation?

QRecall can, absolutely, handle all of these cases. To capture your operating system, create a capture action that captures your entire startup volume. You can have just one big capture action, or split it up into multiple actions (say one for your home folder and another for your entire volume), so they can be scheduled to run at different times.

If you only have capture actions, QRecall will preserve every version of every file you tell it to capture. But unless you have an unlimited amount of disk space on your archive volume, you'll eventually want to discard some of those older copies to make room for new ones. That's where the merge and compact actions come into play.

These are all explained in the documentation, but the easiest way to get started is to use the Capture Assistant (under Help). Tell it you want to create a backup strategy and then answer the questions. When it's done, take a look at the actions the assistant creates (in the Actions window) and then begin tweaking and modifying those actions to get what you want. If you want to start over, just delete all of your actions and run the capture assistant again.

As for restoring your entire system in case of a catastrophe, there are several sections of the help dedicated to this very subject. Short version: do yourself a big favor and create a minimal startup system (on an external hard disk—the one with your QRecall archive is perfect for this—or a USB drive) ahead of time. When disaster strikes, all you have to do is boot from your external volume, restore what you need, and be back in business within minutes.

If you have any further questions post them here or write to support@qrecall.com.

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Mike M



Joined: 12-Aug-16 02:01
Messages: 47
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Thanks very much. I have another question which is not specifically a QRecall question, but I thought someone here might have some advice.

I have a 2TB WD Passport drive. This is only a few months old. I recently purchased DriveDx in order to read the SMART data, which shows one condition of concern, which is that there are 3 bad sectors waiting to be remapped. DriveDx pops up a little message saying that a drive with even one bad section *waiting* to be remapped (I think the "waiting" concept if part of the issue) is 16 times more likely to fail within a year.

This 2 TB drive would be handy for holding two QRecall archives (one for the whole drive, one for my home directory), but I don't know if this condition is something to be concerned about.

One person told me that any large drive is going to have bad sectors, and go ahead and use it, just keeping an eye on the SMART data. But that DriveDx message is worrying.

Mike
James Bucanek



Joined: 14-Feb-07 10:05
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Mike M wrote:I have a 2TB WD Passport drive. This is only a few months old. I recently purchased DriveDx in order to read the SMART data, which shows one condition of concern, which is that there are 3 bad sectors waiting to be remapped. DriveDx pops up a little message saying that a drive with even one bad section *waiting* to be remapped (I think the "waiting" concept if part of the issue) is 16 times more likely to fail within a year.

I can't speak to the "16 times more likely" prophecy; that seems high to me (because, as others have pointed out, all high density drives have bad sectors), but I'll assume DriveDx has the stats to back that up.

Regardless, no drive is perfect—which is why we make backups in the first place.

QRecall 2.0 has a data redundancy feature. When creating the archive, or from the archive settings, choose the level of data redundancy you want QRecall to add to the archive. The best settings (from a performance standpoint) are 1:16, 1:8, and 1:4. In your situation I'd recommend 1:16, or 1:8 if you're really cautious. At the 1:8 level, QRecall will write one redundancy byte for every 8 bytes of archive data, increasing the size of your archive by about 12.5%. The upside is that QRecall can then recover from the loss of one or two blocks of data within any span of 16 consecutive blocks. So QRecall can still read your archive, even if you lost 2 or 3 sectors on the drive.

Be aware that data redundancy can't protect against wholesale loss of the entire drive, or even several whole tracks. But even in those dire circumstances, its recovery feature can extract all readable data to a second hard drive.

This 2 TB drive would be handy for holding two QRecall archives (one for the whole drive, one for my home directory),

There are really very few advantages to doing this. You'll use a lot more disk space and cause QRecall to work twice as hard.

The most efficient arrangement is to store your entire startup volume (which will include your home folder) in one archive. If you want to capture your home or Documents folder to your archive more frequently than your system and applications, create two capture actions with different schedules, both capturing to the same archive.

Think of archives like hard drive partitions: it's almost always more efficient and simpler to manage one big partition than a bunch of small ones.

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Mike M



Joined: 12-Aug-16 02:01
Messages: 47
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I see! I see that's part of the flexibility of QRecall, the ability to set up different capture actions on a different schedule.

I will read the documentation and if I have any further questions, get back to you.
Mike M



Joined: 12-Aug-16 02:01
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I've been studying the QRecall documentation and I can't figure out if it can do something.

First I plan to create an archive of my main drive. That seems like a great advantage to be able to restore the main volume when disaster strikes.

But QRecall will also be useful for holding old versions of certain files. Most of my work is actually on a small set of my files, and I might like to create an action capturing those directories more often (capture them to the same archive for the whole volume, is my understanding of how to do it).

I have another situation. I frequently download large data files into the Downloads directory, and within a week, delete them. I have no need to save them longer than that. But if they are captured, then they may stick around in the archive for a long time, depending on how frequently I merge layers.

I wanted to see if there's a way to merge only portions of layers, say only the files in the Downloads directory. I don't see such a thing in the docs. Of course, I bet that such an action doesn't make logical sense--it might violate some consistency rule in the archive. Just guessing.

So that leaves the delete option. I see that I can manually delete some of these files. Is there a way to create a Delete action that would run on a schedule and delete stuff in Downloads?

Mike




James Bucanek



Joined: 14-Feb-07 10:05
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Mike M wrote:I have another situation. I frequently download large data files into the Downloads directory, and within a week, delete them. I have no need to save them longer than that. But if they are captured, then they may stick around in the archive for a long time, depending on how frequently I merge layers.

I wanted to see if there's a way to merge only portions of layers, say only the files in the Downloads directory. I don't see such a thing in the docs. Of course, I bet that such an action doesn't make logical sense--it might violate some consistency rule in the archive. Just guessing.

You're correct: it's not possible to selectively merge individual folders. It really violates the logical definition of a layer.

So that leaves the delete option. I see that I can manually delete some of these files. Is there a way to create a Delete action that would run on a schedule and delete stuff in Downloads?

It's possible to do this with the command-line tool. You could script the qrecall tool to periodically delete your Downloads folder from your archive, say once a week.

But honestly, if you don't want to keep your downloads in the archive consider just excluding them from the capture. You can do this in the archive's settings or by setting the "Exclude Contents" capture preference on the Downloads folder.

Files that you only want to keep a backup of for a few days are not worth capturing in the first place. Particularly since these are transient files which, presumably, are available to download again should you lose them for some reason.

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Mike M



Joined: 12-Aug-16 02:01
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Okay, so everything looks pretty good. I did the following:

- installed OS X on a 2 TB WD Passport drive so I will have it ready to go in the event a recovery is needed

- I used the "assistant" to set up a daily capture of my entire volume.

- I then used the item context menu to exclude the Downloads directory

At this point there is only one more thing I would like to do:

I want to capture a couple of directories, where I do 90% of my work, on an hourly basis.

It looks like all I have to do is add an hourly capture action on those folders, let's say at 30 minutes after each hour. The other actions that the "assistant" set up (rolling merge, compact) will probably work just fine. It looks like the rolling merge will keep the hourly captures for 5 days, then convert them to day layers.

Does that sound okay?

Mike
James Bucanek



Joined: 14-Feb-07 10:05
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Mike M wrote:Does that sound okay?

Sounds perfect!

A few tidbits of advanced wisdom:

- The "couple of directories" can be part of the same capture action. A capture action can capture any number of source items (files, folders, or volumes).

- If the folders you're are capturing are broad (i.e. ~/Document & ~/Pictures) then an hourly schedule is the most efficient approach.

But if your folder is very targeted (~/Documents/Projects/Hot) then consider the "When source items change" event schedule. QRecall will monitor that folder for changes and immediately start a capture only when it does. It's more timely than waiting for the hourly capture, and it can be more efficient because the action only runs when there's something to capture. You just don't want this kind of schedule on a folder that changes all the time (like your home folder, which change every few minutes).

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Mike M



Joined: 12-Aug-16 02:01
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Is the wisdom of capturing every change related to the size of the item? For instance, is capturing "Home" on every change not wise in part because a capture of Home, which is a very large tree for me, would be a lot of work for QRecall that would be occurring non-stop?

What about capturing every change in a small folder even when that data changes every few minutes? The capture would be triggered frequently, but perhaps would run quickly.

But no matter the answer, keeping hourly or daily captures is fine 99% of the time, if you consider losing a day of work to be a minor event. (It's minor for me--I don't do anything "mission critical.")

I also keep a lot of my files in my Dropbox folder so that provides another layer of backup. Dropbox keeps old versions too and it may even keep every version of files that change frequently if they are small enough to upload quickly.

By the way, I just switched from Windows (after 25 years) to Mac, and although I do look forward to the benefits of Macs (and I always thought Apple makes more beautifully designed products) it has not been an easy adjustment, and in many cases I have not yet found equivalent software to what I was using on Windows. But I can complement QRecall -- far better than any backup software I found on Windows, less expensive to boot. It meets my backup needs exactly, and as far as I can tell, it does it simply by being a good design to address the fundamental domain.
Adrian Chapman



Joined: 16-Aug-10 10:30
Messages: 72
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James Bucanek wrote:
But if your folder is very targeted (~/Documents/Projects/Hot) then consider the "When source items change" event schedule. QRecall will monitor that folder for changes and immediately start a capture only when it does. It's more timely than waiting for the hourly capture, and it can be more efficient because the action only runs when there's something to capture. You just don't want this kind of schedule on a folder that changes all the time (like your home folder, which change every few minutes).


I use "When source items change" on my Pictures folder because I tend to work on photographs relatively infrequently so there is no point including it in my regular, 2 hourly backups.

However. while I don't want to lose any changes while I am working on photographs I don't see any point in capturing every minor edit so I delay the capture for 15 minutes. If I feel the need I can, of course, always initiate a manual capture at any time.
 
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