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Question: Time Machine doesn't backup iPhoto Library (if iPhoto is open)

I just wanted to alert other people to the fact that Time Machine DOES NOT backup your iPhoto Library (that is, any of your photos), if iPhoto is open when Time Machine performs the backup (which in my case, is all of the time).

I've just posted this information to my blog: http://www.pigsgourdsandwikis.com/2010/01/timemachine-is-not-backing-up-your.htm l

But the basics are that although Time Machine promises to perform automatic backups in the background, it will skip your photos if iPhoto is open. Unfortunately, it won't tell you it hasn't done the backup and you'll be lulled into a very false sense of security, broken only when you have a problem and there's no backup to be found.

So, be sure to close iPhoto when Time Machine is doing backups and check your backed up files to make sure all your photos are there.

Please spread the word. I hate to think people are losing their photos because of this.

best,
Liz

http://www.lizcastro.com/iphotobookthemes
http://www.elizabethcastro.com

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.8), iPhoto 8.1.1

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Jan 24, 2010 1:49 PM in response to LizCastro In response to LizCastro

Liz:

I just ran a test: with my library open and a new photo added to the library I had TM do a backup. The new photo was backed up to my TM copy of the iPhoto Library. Not sure if that's the same conditions you were experiencing but it worked for me.

I've added additional photos and will leave iPhoto open until the next automatic backup is scheduled. Will post back with the results.

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Jan 24, 2010 1:49 PM

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Jan 24, 2010 2:01 PM in response to Old Toad In response to Old Toad

Thanks for the test, OT. That's good to hear. I wonder why it doesn't work for me or for the folks who have written me. I spoke with several Apple tech support people (because I just couldn't believe it) who confirmed my experience, that is, that Time Machine does not back up open files, including the iPhoto Library.

I'll be interested to hear what else you find.

kind regards,
Liz

Jan 24, 2010 2:01 PM

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Jan 25, 2010 1:37 PM in response to LizCastro In response to LizCastro

As Old Toad found, this is not consistent. Just what causes TM to skip iPhoto is not clear. It may vary depending on just what you're doing; if you're importing photos, or doing major editing, re-arranging, etc., there may be too many things in an inconsistent state for TM to be able to force all the related things to disk so it can back up everything, or even the related items.

You can tell from the logs when iPhoto does get backed-up after being skipped; there will be a message about the UUID of your iPhoto library not matching, and one about TM doing a "deep traversal" on your iPhoto library because of a "missed reservation."

Whether there's an indication in the previous backup's logs about iPhoto being skipped it that backup is unclear.

If you're interested, Click here to download the +Time Machine Buddy+ widget. It shows the messages from your logs for one TM backup run at a time, in a small window.

If anybody finds such a message, please copy and post all the messages for that backup here.

And PLEASE tell Apple there ought to be some warning, perhaps if the library has been changed but not backed-up for 24 hours: http://www.apple.com/feedback/macosx.html

Jan 25, 2010 1:37 PM

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Jan 25, 2010 1:48 PM in response to Pondini In response to Pondini

Interesting. And thanks for the link to the Time Machine Buddy widget, I'm going to follow it as closely as I can. I've gotten so many emails from folks who've lost info and photos, it's really sad.

So meanwhile, I think it's safe to say that Time Machine WILL ALWAYS back up your iPhoto Library IF iPhoto is CLOSED, but it won't always do it if it's open. Therefore, one way to make sure your iPhoto Library is getting backed up is to make sure iPhoto is closed at least some of the time (e.g., before Time Machine starts to run and while it's doing a back up).

thanks!

Liz

Jan 25, 2010 1:48 PM

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Jan 25, 2010 1:57 PM in response to LizCastro In response to LizCastro

LizCastro wrote:
. . .
Therefore, one way to make sure your iPhoto Library is getting backed up is to make sure iPhoto is closed at least some of the time (e.g., before Time Machine starts to run and while it's doing a back up).


One sure and quick way is to quit iPhoto, then force a backup.

Select +Back Up Now+ from the TM icon in your menubar, or right-click the TM icon in your Dock.

If we can figure out the conditions, we should post a *User Contributed Tip.* Lots of folks miss them, but it might help a few.

And please direct folks to the feedback link -- to twist a phrase from long ago, "Post early and often" !

Jan 25, 2010 1:57 PM

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Jan 25, 2010 2:07 PM in response to LizCastro In response to LizCastro

Just checked my Time machine today and the test photos I added yesterday do not show up in any of Sunday's TM versions. They begin showing up with today's first backup +*which was done with iPhoto closed+*. That is a surprise as I did see the photos yesterday. At least I thought I did. 😟 Maybe I have to reboot my brain. 🙂

Am reporting the issue also.

Jan 25, 2010 2:07 PM

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Jan 25, 2010 2:10 PM in response to Old Toad In response to Old Toad

If you don't mind, please use the TM Buddy widget to look at the messages for your recent backups.

The one where the photos were finally backed up should have the UUID, etc., messages as in my previous post; I'm interested whether there's any indication in the previous backups that iPhoto was being skipped.

Thanks for your help.

Jan 25, 2010 2:10 PM

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Jan 25, 2010 2:19 PM in response to LizCastro In response to LizCastro

LizCastro wrote:
BTW, what's a "User Contributed Tip"? I think I'm one of the folks who's missed them 🙂


A box at the top of some forums, containing some of the things Apple either doesn't document or has hidden. Examples:

http://discussions.apple.com/forum.jspa?forumID=1337

http://discussions.apple.com/forum.jspa?forumID=1342

Jan 25, 2010 2:19 PM

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Jan 25, 2010 2:49 PM in response to Old Toad In response to Old Toad

Old Toad wrote:
How can one use the TM Buddy widget without activating Dashboard?


I find it easy to use in Dashboard, but there is a way to enable "Dashboard Developer mode," where you can drag a widget onto the desktop and use it like an app.

You can do that via Terminal, but it may be easier to Click here to download the +Tinker Tool+ app. There's a check box towards the bottom of the General panel.

Jan 25, 2010 2:49 PM

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Jan 25, 2010 5:19 PM in response to Pondini In response to Pondini

OK, ran a test with iPhoto open and got this from Time Machine Buddy:

---------
Starting standard backup
Backing up to: /Volumes/Time Machine Backups/Backups.backupdb
Node requires deep traversal:/Users/lizx/Pictures/Big iPhoto Library/iPhoto 7 Library current reason:kFSEDBEventFlagContainsChanges|kFSEDBEventFlagMustScanSubDirs|kFSEDBEven tFlagReasonFSEvent|kFSEDBEventFlagReasonMissedReservation|
No pre-backup thinning needed: 3.91 GB requested (including padding), 60.52 GB available
Copied 12483 files (50.9 MB) from volume Macintosh HD.
No pre-backup thinning needed: 1.06 GB requested (including padding), 60.47 GB available
Copied 1088 files (16.6 MB) from volume Macintosh HD.
Starting post-backup thinning
Deleted backup /Volumes/Time Machine Backups/Backups.backupdb/lizxp/2010-01-14-145941: 60.54 GB now available
Deleted backup /Volumes/Time Machine Backups/Backups.backupdb/lizxp/2010-01-14-095812: 60.57 GB now available
Deleted backup /Volumes/Time Machine Backups/Backups.backupdb/lizxp/2010-01-14-085710: 60.60 GB now available
Post-back up thinning complete: 3 expired backups removed
Backup completed successfully.
--------

Also, when I look on my external drive, the latest backup says it was opened on January 14, but of course, I had iPhoto open when I ran the backup (that is, it was last opened TODAY).

Now, I closed iPhoto and ran Time Machine again. I got a pretty similar message from Time Machine Buddy:

-------Starting standard backup
Backing up to: /Volumes/Time Machine Backups/Backups.backupdb
Node requires deep traversal:/Users/lizx/Pictures/Big iPhoto Library/iPhoto 7 Library current reason:kFSEDBEventFlagContainsChanges|kFSEDBEventFlagMustScanSubDirs|kFSEDBEven tFlagReasonFSEvent|kFSEDBEventFlagReasonMissedReservation|
No pre-backup thinning needed: 3.90 GB requested (including padding), 60.60 GB available
Copied 10309 files (2.4 GB) from volume Macintosh HD.
No pre-backup thinning needed: 1.06 GB requested (including padding), 58.19 GB available
Copied 2935 files (16.7 MB) from volume Macintosh HD.
Starting post-backup thinning
No post-back up thinning needed: no expired backups exist
Backup completed successfully.
-------

If there's a significant difference there, I can't see it.

On the other hand, when I go look at the backed up file, although it still won't tell me how big it is (or I'm too impatient to wait), it does say the (backed up) iPhoto Library was last opened today. Much better.

What do you think?

best,
Liz

Jan 25, 2010 5:19 PM

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Jan 25, 2010 5:20 PM in response to LizCastro In response to LizCastro

P.S.

That's cool that my little dashes turned into lines, I didn't know they'd do that or I would've been more careful to set them apart from the quoted text!

-------

Jan 25, 2010 5:20 PM

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Jan 25, 2010 5:32 PM in response to LizCastro In response to LizCastro

LizCastro wrote:
. . .
If there's a significant difference there, I can't see it.


Neither can I. It looks like both times TM knew there'd been changes that hadn't been backed-up.

Just guessing, but perhaps when it did the "deep traversal" the first time, it figured out that it couldn't backup whatever was changed, so skipped it.

One thing you might want to do is see exactly what did get backed up on that first run. Click here to download the TimeTracker app. It shows most of the files saved by TM for each backup (excluding some hidden/system files, etc.).

Get the time of that first run from the widget, then see if anything in your iPhoto library was backed-up that time.

Jan 25, 2010 5:32 PM

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Question: Time Machine doesn't backup iPhoto Library (if iPhoto is open)