Resurrection of Backblaze and Drobo
#337 Henry, Monday, 11 April 2016 5:43 PM (Category: Apple)
(Tags: macmini macbook backblaze drobo)

You've probably heard me whining about this for two years, and I'm going to whine a little bit more.

I have a Mac Mini, and have a Drobo attached to it, and BackBlaze attempting to backup from it. The Drobo will be improperly dismounted on a regular basis, and the Mac Mini cannot go a day without crashing or getting the spinning beach ball of death. I've had the Mac Mini back to Apple repeatedly, they allegedly have replaced the motherboard, but that had no effect. For what I want to use it for, it is a completely useless setup.

If I want to backup to the Drobo, I have to power on the Mac Mini, attach the Drobo, backup, then dismount the Drobo and then power down the Mac Mini. Anything to do with backup is a totally manual operation. And BackBlaze does not ever get enough time to finish its initial backup.

My first year of BackBlaze is almost over. I can either cancel it and not renew or do something else. Given that I haven't been able to do the initial backup, it's been a total waste.

I bought my Mac Mini brand new in 2014. It's a lemon. It's a piece of shit.

I had to make a decision about BackBlaze. In the long term, I no longer trust Apple for Mac Minis. Drobo only runs on Macs and Windows, and I don't have Windows. I don't see it being a long term solution. I will start building something I can use under Linux. BackBlaze is a neat idea, but won't run on Linux, so my future with it is limited. But there had to be something I could do in the short term. There was.

I have too many old MacBooks lying around not doing anything useful. Time to make them do something useful.

I pulled out the Mac Mini and replaced it with my 2006 white MacBook. The MacBook is stuck at 10.7.5 = Lion, and can't be upgraded past that. I was worried that the Drobo and BackBlaze would not work. The Drobo attached just fine and works as expected. The Drobo Dashboard will crash while searching for a Drobo. I don't need the Dashboard to run the Drobo. It was a neat tool to change settings and get a visual look at the Drobo, but it isn't essential. BackBlaze installed okay, and backs up nicely.

I wasn't sure how to set up the MacBook to run as a server, and am still experimenting. The computer is set to never sleep, but it will shut down the screen and hard disks after a short time. I can ssh in from my Linux box, I can vnc from my Linux box, and I can screen share from my MacBook Airs. I can also walk up to it and start typing. I leave the lid open. I am going to buy one of those electrical timers and turn the power off for an hour twice a day. That will exercise the battery and hopefully keep it in reasonable health.

So far it's been running a week. The Drobo has not improperly dismounted. BackBlaze is running nicely and is close to finishing its initial backup. I have a great sense of relief. I can access the Drobo easily. I can backup at any time. I can now start cron jobs to automatically and regularly back up my data to the Drobo. Finally, I can access the Drobo the way I wanted to.

I am very happy that finally I have a working solution. Only problem is - it's a 2006 MacBook. It can't last forever. When it dies, I will replace it with the 2006 MacBook Pro. When that goes, I will plug in one of the 2011 MacBook Airs, and when that goes, I hope to have a Linux solution in place.

The thing that pisses me off the most is that a brand new Mac Mini bought in 2014 turned out to be a lemon, and a piece of shit, while a 2006 MacBook I bought used in 2008 is still going strong and doing what the Mac Mini could not do - stay up more than a day.