Monday, March 30, 2009

Dreamhost Backup problems; stay away from them!

So it seems Dreamhost have once again lost all my files on their backup server, or at least I've lost access to the them... This whole ordeal started more than three weeks ago, though I didn't notice it at first. At one point they sent out an email explaining and apologizing for what's happened, so far so good, accidents can happen.. But they email also said that now it was OK to reupload the files, and a few days later they seemed to be gone again.

Now it's beeen more than a week since the last status update from Dreamhost, and still the backup server seems to be going up and down all the time. No word on what's going on, or when I can plan to start backing up my data again. This is extremely bad! If they just would give me a status update I'd be prepered to give them some more time to get their house together, but they keep silent. I'd have to recommend everyone to stay away from Dreamhost! A backup service that looses the data for all their customers should be a bad enough sign already, but when they even fail to communicate properly on what's going on, that's just the last straw.. I'll be asking for a refund, and thank my lucky star I didn't host this blog with them....

UPDATE: Got a response from Dreamhost with apologises, and assurances that the backup server should now be fully functional again. We'll see....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My backup host is psychic! Or maybe not...

Two months ago I got myself a 50GB backup account for personal use (photo library, documents, code and such), and played around with rsync until I got a working backup script. However, for some deranged reason, I never actually got around to scheduling the backup script to run every night... Well, now I felt it was time to remedy the situation, and maybe write another blog-post while I was at it.

At the very same second I decided this, an email arrived from my backup hosting company (Dreamhost) with the ominous subject "Backup server problems"..! Now, honestly, what is that? Fate? Can they read my mind or what? This is seriously creepy...!
Hello Albin,

I'm very, very sorry it has taken us so long to report back to you regarding your backup user status.  For the last week and a half we've been working with 3Ware to try and revive the raid array, but so far have still had no success. You can read more about it here:

At the moment, it is really starting to look bad, and we have more or less given up hope on being able to recover the data. Again, I'm really horribly sorry about this.

Hopefully, as this loss only affected our "backup" service (intended to only be used as your backups), you have another copy of all the data that was there. We have now at least gotten the backup server back online (without any 3Ware raid cards this time), so you may begin using it again to re-backup your data.

To try and make up for this a tiny bit, I have just now applied a $20 account credit to your account. (The total of any amount you've been charged for backups since October, plus  extra.) Again, I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. If you have any questions, please respond to this email and we will all do our best to help you in any way we can.


So, it turns out the they had begun experiencing problems with their backupserver about two weeks ago. Since my backup script hadn't been running I hadn't even noticed. But get this, in the end they were unable to recover the data, and gave up! All data on the backup server gone. For everyone! And yes, when I logged in now my backed up files were nowhere to be seen.

So.. Well for me it's actually not a big deal, since all my data is safe and sound on my healthy 1.8 TB RAID5 array at home, and my backup script hadn't been running anyway... And I guess a $20 credit is better than nothing. But honestly, this must really be the last kind of email you'd like to get from your backup company...

(Dreamhost isn't actually a backup company, but a regular hosting company. Since last summer they've been offering an additional 50GB backup space with every hosting account, which as it turns out is cheaper than most of the regular dedicated backup providers. But I guess this is why :P)

So, well did I ever get around to setting up the backup schedule? Yes I did! My home server is running WinXP and Cygwin, with rsync and cron. The command I use for rsync is:

rsync --delete --protocol=29 -avP /cygdrive/d/backup-folder

My local backup-folder is actually a collection of symlinks (yes you can use symlinks in Windows, but they are called junctions) pointing to the folders I actually want to backup. As you can see rsync is not so difficult to use (the protocol=29-stuff is Dreamhost specific, my thanks goes to Climens Codelog for the tip).

After some meddling with crontab (turns out crontab and emacs don't play nice, at least not on Cygwin), I got the schedule up and running as well with:

0 4 * * * rsync --delete --protocol=29 -avP /cygdrive/d/backup-folder >> ./backup.log

Voilá! Automatic backup scheduled to run every night at 04:00. Finally. Just hope that Dreamhost won't mess up again...

UPDATE: Dreamhost messed up again! The files i uploaded yesterday are gone! Nothing new in the Dreamhost Status blog... What's going on?

UPDATE 2: My files have mysteriously reappeared. Still no news from Dreamhost on whats going on...

Thunderbird 3 Beta 2

I know I said that I would switch to, but somehow I still use Thunderbird from time to time... Anyhow, Thunderbird 3 beta 2 was released a few weeks back, so for those who thought that beta 1 sounded too unstable, maybe now it's time to give Thunderbird 3 a try? As I've said before, for me the main reason for updating is that Thunderbird 3 natively supports the OSX Address Book!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

3-col vertical view in Apple Mail (OSX 10.5)

When I made the switch to Mac and OSX, for some reason I stayed reluctant to trade my old trusty Thunderbird for OSX' native But unfortunately Thunderbird doesn't support the pesky Outlook calender invitations my company always spam me with, and I heard a rumor that does, so I thought I had to give it a try then after all.

It turns out however, that I really, really, really, miss the three column vertical view from Thunderbird (and Outlook for that matter). For some strange reason sports the older 2 column split mode... Fortunately, as always, Google has the answer. I quickly found WideMail by Dane Harnett, a modification to that enables a three column view just like in Thunderbird. Also has many options to further customize the appearance. Thanks Dane!