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Exploding Libraries

Posted on Monday, June 7th, 2010 under Life | No comments

Delicious Library

... or "Why backup up, both often and diversely, is so important."

The Lead-in

If you know Jodie and I, you know we enjoy movies, own quite a few and often fall into the role of being-a-local-BLOCKBUSTER-to-our-friends. It is for those reasons that we use the amazing Delicious Library application that Wil Shipley and his grass-roots team have developed for the Mac. With barcode scanning, Address Book-based check-in/out and a wifi-synced iPhone application, it is way better than any on paper setup we have had in the past.

The only thing missing from Delicious, however, is a way to keep one library in sync between multiple computers ... allowing either Jodie or myself to add, check out or update movie information. Thanks to Dropbox, the "go to" cloud-based backup solution, and a few handy symbolic links, I managed a nice workaround for what Delicious lacks.

The Drama

A couple of days ago, Jodie attempted to opened Delicious Library and add a few new movies, but because of some issue with a broken/corrupt/finicky database file (located in the Application Support directory), the app wouldn't launch without immediately and "unexpectedly" quitting.

The Solution (or so I thought)

Using Dropbox's restore capabilities, I planned to simply push my copy of the library to Jodie's machine and fix the issue ... but like many applications, when Delicious Library initially tried to launch for Jodie, it updated its database files. This update caused Dropbox to see a newer modification date and immediately sync those files to the cloud and in the process, render my copy of the library broken as well.

Even worse, trying to use the "Previous versions" option for the files on Dropbox failed because Delicious' .library files weren't being recognized by the system correctly as storage and were downloading as empty folders instead.

The Failsafe

Thankfully, Jodie and I have both lost enough data in the past to know that backing up to one location/media is not really backing up at all and I was able to successfully restore a previous copy of the library files from a Time Machine backup that had occurred only a few days prior.

It was also comforting to know that if, for some reason or another, one of our Time Machine drives had died, each of our MacBook's has the unobtrusive BackBlaze service running as well. Theirs isn't a perfect solution, but has saved me plenty of times in a pinch.

Just like I tell all of my students, the lesson here is to backup ... everything, often and to as many different media/locations/services as possible. There are never too many options for restoring when you are missing that "one important file".

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