Last month my laptops hard drive died. It went from a little wonkiness, to a loud clicking, and then straight to sudden death. Mostly I was annoyed. I’m good about backups. I have a cloned image of my drive. All my important and irreplaceable documents and pictures also get their own private onsite and offsite backups. I have also been using Apple’s Time Machine. While I was annoyed that I would have to replace the MacBook’s hard drive (which, fortunately, is far easier than it was to have to replace the drive in my old iBook), I was eager to see how well Time Machine worked at recovering from backups. So after I got the new drive installed I booted up from the OS X disc and selected to recover from Time Machine. It went smoothly, and in about an hour all my data was on the new drive and it booted up and looked and felt like nothing had ever happened. I was impressed.
Two days later I installed the 10.5.8 update via Software Update. It appeared that everything went smoothly. It wasn’t until the next day I realized the little indicator for Time Machine was constantly spinning. When I checked on its status it seemed to be stuck on “Preparing…”. Hmmm. This wasn’t happy behavior. I fiddled with the settings a bit. Stopped the backup and started a new one and again it hung on the same thing. I decided since I had created a new cloned drive image after getting the new drive up to speed I would reformat the drive I used for Time Machine. I don’t really deal much with incremental file versions so I wasn’t worried about losing months of access to those. (for the record I have an Airport Extreme (pre-dual band versions)with a 500GB USB drive plugged in to it that I back up to via the wireless network). After reformatting the thing I began starting it up as a new Time Machine drive and once again it stuck on “Preparing…”. Checking out Console.app showed it was having problems accessing Spotlight related files on the new drive image. This of course was odd as it was a brand new sparse.image file, but all the same it could neither read/create/nor find whatever it was looking for and was throwing up several errors a minute. Searching around the web revealed a few other people with similar problems, but no solutions at first. After awhile some people began posting that they had that issue but let it keep going for a few hours and suddenly the backup kicked in. The theory being that Spotlight needed time to reindex everything after the 10.5.8 update. Okay, I could buy this. So I started up Time Machine and let it go overnight.
Fast forward over 12 hours and the machine was still preparing. There’s only 40GB’s in use on this drive so I find it hard to believe it was still attempting indexing. Next I invoked mdutil -E to the laptops hard drive to force it to index. Spotlight showed it was indexing, and I clicked on it so I could watch its progress bar. 20 minutes later the drive was reindexed. Awesome I thought. Fired up Time Machine… and again it stuck on “Preparing…” I let that go for hours before finally giving up.
Hopefully this is a widespread enough problem that Apple introduces a patch, or some instructions on fixing the problem as I would like to be able to use Time Machine again, especially after seeing how while it recovered my machine after a drive failure. In the time being I will continue updating drive clone images with Carbon Copy Cloner, as well as continuing all my other back up practices.
Edit 1 (13:13 EST): This is the error message that I receive over and over: “8/8/09 1:13:27 PM mds (/Volumes/Backup of Otis/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V1/Stores/0111E1B8-84EC-4CBD-8233-CD50D5F40A6B)(Error) IndexCI in CIMetaInfoCreate:Tried to create index when index already existed /Volumes/Backup of Otis/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V1/Stores/0111E1B8-84EC-4CBD-8233-CD50D5F40A6B”
I’ve also gotten: “8/8/09 1:14:27 PM mds (/Volumes/Backup of Otis/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V1/Stores/7354B10D-A419-47E1-9EB5-1A89A95436FA)(Error) IndexCI in ContentIndexOpenBulk:Could not open /Volumes/Backup of Otis/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V1/Stores/7354B10D-A419-47E1-9EB5-1A89A95436FA/0.; needs recovery “
Edit 2(August 14, 4:11 EST): Well it seems that the problem actually has to do with 10.5.8 and the most recent build of Mozy for the Mac (1.4 I seem to recall). While Mozy was working fine it was doing some weird cosmic thing to certain sets of permissions that caused Time Machine to throw up all sorts of errors. I uninstalled Mozy (saved the prefs) and Time Machine immediately started working like nothing had ever happened.