The good people at Rebit—notably Dennis Batchelor of Tech Support and Product Manager David Schwaab—were fairly well horrified to read last week’s post about Rebit and how slowly this particular frog was hopping. It took Rebit more than 48 hours to back up my housemate’s computer (over USB 1.1, remember), but it did succeed in making a backup of her drive.
In fairness to Rebit, I uninstalled the device from my housemate’s machine and connected it to my own laptop, which has USB 2.0 hi-speed ports. Progress was significantly faster, yet it still took 20 hours to complete. Even taking into account that I have twice as much data on my drive as my housemate has on hers, this was well outside the normal range of backup times for Rebit.
Dennis and I exchanged several e-mails and looked at the Rebit log files to try to figure out why the backup should take so long, particularly since I left it running overnight. Rebit is designed to pause whenever you use your mouse or keyboard, in order not to interfere with your ability to use your computer. Overall, that’s a good thing: file synchronization and continuous backup programs can slow down the function of a machine and get annoying. It does mean, however, that if you plug your Rebit in for the first time at the beginning of a busy day, it may not get very far toward protecting you until you leave the office at night–and then only if you leave your machine on.
We still don’t know why my Rebit initialization took 20 hours instead of the normal 5 or 6. Screensavers and Skype shouldn’t be a problem, and my anti-virus program (AVG) only scans incoming files, so that shouldn’t be an issue, either. The logs appeared to indicate a lot of activity, but not any other problems—there were no errors in Rebit’s own function.
So at this point—which would have been Tuesday—what I was prepared to write was that it’s only users familiar with other backup programs who are likely even to notice that Rebit takes a long time to make its first copy of your drive. It isn’t people like me, who already have 5 automated backup systems in place, that Rebit is designed for. Rebit is meant for people who have no backup system and don’t know, or want to know, very much about their computers. The people who, when told “Just plug it in,” will plug it in, click “Accept” at the prompt, and then ignore it until they need to recover a lost file.
But then a funny thing happened, and it may prove to be the case that Rebit will be worth the wait for me, as well.
I was preparing to test the “bare-metal restore” function with the Rebit CD, but being a cautious sort, I wanted to make a Ghost backup of my drive first. I’ve used Ghost successfully for years, so I knew that if for some reason the Rebit restore didn’t work, I could always restore from the Ghost image.
Except I couldn’t make a Ghost image. I tried three times and got the same “Read sector failure” error message. Ghost was unable to find a file which I had no trouble finding in Windows. I tried running a disk check to find and repair errors, but a second disk check still showed errors, notably problems with the MFT Volume Bitmap.
And this, according to the Ur-Guru, is not a trivial problem: “If it keeps saying there’s errors in the MFT, only a full clean format and reinstall may (or may not) show whether the HD is really going bad.”
Argh. Yes, all right, I was planning to reinstall my machine anyway. I’d have preferred not to do it while in the middle of several client projects, because it takes time. And I’d certainly prefer to be able to make a Ghost backup before I do it. But I can’t. And I can’t make a SafetyDrill copy, either. Both of them run into the same problem.
Which makes me wonder: was it the disk error which caused the slow Rebit backup? I made a Ghost image with no problem at the end of September, so whatever went wrong has happened recently, but it could easily have happened before I got the Rebit.
I’m not noticing any problems using the computer, but a lot of nasty red disk error messages are coming up in the Event Viewer (for both the C drive and the D drive). This is not something to mess around with. I’m going to have to do that reinstall this weekend. And if the drives are still showing errors after I reformat them, I’m going to need new hard drives. (Hello, Seagate?)
Meanwhile, the most complete backup I have, including all the icons and fonts and stray files that don’t get included in my regular backups of my data and documents…is on the Rebit. Which tells me it’s backed up as of 2 minutes ago.
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