May 2009

Managing Your Digital Life Podcast Episode #4

Posted by scott on May 1, 2009

Episode 4 of MYDL.ME is now in the feed. Thanks for visiting.

Listen to this episode

PS: Please note this show was posted unedited – and contains some funny back channel banter from Andy and I. I’m on the road and didn’t have the ability to edit it as well as I’d like but upon listening to it thought it was darn funny to leave all that stuff in. So from now on we’re going to experiment with leaving all out bloopers and back channel discussions in the show – what do you think? If the audience prefers it slick and polished – we can go back to that too. I’m interested to hear what you think.

Managing your Digital Life Episode #4

In this very first Q&A episode, Scott and Andy answer listener questions.

Hosts: Scott Bourne and Andy Ihnatko

Show notes prepared by Tom Newman at Fogview Podcast and


MYDL is a show about storage, backup, and managing your digital life. The show will be produced three times a month: 1st, 10th, and 20th.

Send your thoughts and suggestions about the show to BourneMediaGroup @


Question 1 from Newell Unfried: I currently use Carbonite for my backup and I currently have 400 GB stored. With Time Warner announcing caps and ATT, my current provider, following soon, my concern is if I have a drive failure and need to download my backup the time and cost with the download cap may be prohibited. This is why I started a fourth backup system.

Answer: The use of a service is like a gas, it expands to fill whatever space it’s in. When you give users unlimited services like network backup, no one really considers what happens when you’re limited to 40 GB or 80 GB cap. It is a good idea to have as many different backup systems as possible. We discussed before that it’s a good idea to have a backup that physically leaves your house. The idea of bandwidth caps is a serious issue and even without caps it does cost a lot of money to do a complete restore from a cloud backup system. That’s something you have to add to the worksheet when you consider your backup solution. You don’t want to be dependent on any one system for your backup.

Question 2 from Daniel pertovt: What about the life span of burnt CDs and DVDs? How long do you think I should wait before re-burning them before they become unreadable.

Answer: Manufacturers offer guidelines but there is no standard testing to give an exact answer. They say anything from 5 years to 100 years. You can expect a disc to last 2 to 3 years. There is a thing know as “disc rot” and because of that you do want to refresh your CDs and DVDs every 2 to 3 years. If it’s worth having, it’s worth having 3 copies.

Scott adds that it’s not just CDs and DVDs but file formats (i.e. 5.25 floppies). Also be careful about placing labels on the surface of your discs.

Question 3 from Philip Roy: Can you use swappable drives and maintain them with Time Machine (Mac OSX)?

Answer: In the case of Drobo, the answer is yes. What you want to do is not have a swappable Time Machine drive, but a drive that is a backup of the Time Machine drive. If you try to swap out Time Machines drives, the amount of time to update the Time Machine drive will depend on how long it’s been since you last had the drive connected to your computer.

Scott: Would it be better to do a simple mirroring approach? You could mirror the internal hard drive but it would need to stay connected to the machine and you couldn’t disconnect it and store it elsewhere.

Question 4 from Steven Skoutas: Can I use MobileMe and iDisk to backup my drive and still have access to the files from my iPhone and from any place through the web?

Answer: Backup software (like SuperDuper) will not give you access to individual files. You could use Apple’s Automator program to upload changed files to iDisk or is a good solution because you can access files from their iPhone application or from a web browser. Automator is a very powerful tool and is underused by most Mac users.

SPONSOR: DroboPro is faster and can be connected to your computer with a network cable (iscsi). The new DroboPro is more expensive but they give you a $200 incentive if you upgrade and you don’t have to send back your old Drobo. The DroboPro can be rack mounted and allows you to create logical volumes. The DroboPro will start shipping June 15th. Stay tuned to for more information. Go to

Send your Drobo questions to BourneMediaGroup @ or leave your Drobo questions on the blog at

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Question 5 from Jim McNamara (#1): Is it possible to clone an existing drive to a larger one?

Answer: Yes, you can make a backup of your Time Machine drive and point your Mac to the new drive. I (Andy) prefer to start with a brand new backup so I know I have a perfect backup on the day I upgraded to the new drive.

Question 6 from Jim McNamara (#2): With ZSS coming in Snow Leopard, can we get an overview of what ZSS is:

Answer: This is the first attempt to start over and build a new file system that’s incorporated every great idea that’s come along in the past 20 years and take advantage of the way people use data. Number one you lose the limitation of storage size, secondly ZSS can accommodate multiple file systems on the same drive. It can also repair and heal itself (replacing bad sectors). It’s more secure and safer. The problem will be compatibility with existing software. You won’t know what hardware or software won’t like ZSS until it’s tested. Andy thinks it will be an option in Disk Utility when you format a new drive (and not the default disk format).

Question 7 from George B. Hawkins: What kind of “dummy proof” additional on-site backup can we use to backup our local drives, yet have the data encrypted so if the drives are stolen, the data can’t be read.

Answer: When you backup a drive you lose the ability do a quick backup. Another way is to determine which files you need to be encrypted and which ones you don’t. Another solution is to trust an off-site storage solution like Amazon S3 that encrypts the data on their server. Other than that I don’t know if there is one good answer to give. If our listeners know of a solution please let us know.

This is the end of our first Q&A episode. If you have questions for Mydl, please post it at