Sep 242008
OWC external hard drive

One of my big complaints in the last year has been “I don’t have any hard drive space.” My computer has a 120g hd, but that’s not much since I capture a ton of video. My hd was so full that I started to run into problems. It was really slow, exchange stopped downloading mail, I couldn’t back up my iphone, and I couldn’t put any new media on my computer. It’s been many months and I have tried several solutions, but I nothing worked quite right. Finally I have found a pretty good solution.

Here’s the summary: Buy a few external hard drives (duh! I bought a few of these from OWC based on a recommendation by Tantek), and sync with Super Duper (paid version).

If anyone has any hardware or softare recommendations, or alternate solutions I’d love to hear them. I’m pretty happy with this method right now but it could always be better.

Stories about my attempts, problems, and how I use SuperDuper after the cut

The straw
The day iphone 2.0 came out I, like many other geeks out there, eagerly plugged in my phone to upgrade it. Finally, apps! Or…not. I needed 8gigs of space to back up my phone before I could upgrade. I had about 500mb. Darn. Ahh well, apps aren’t that cool. right??

At this point I had stopped taking photos and videos and switched to a few personal programming projects. Text files are much smaller than photos and I was equally entertained by coding. A few weeks ago I couldn’t start my mysql database which meant I couldn’t continue playing with Django. It failed with a ‘can’t write to sock something’ error. After some poking around I find the real error: Unable to create tempory file; No space left on the device. I attempted to screengrab the error, but my computer was not joking when there was NO SPACE; it couldn’t save the screengrab. That was it. I couldn’t avoid the problem any longer.

Attempted solution
While my problems were unfolding and piling up, I was clearing up hard disk space regularly but it would always fill up so quickly I couldn’t keep up. I bought a Western Digital 250g external at Costco, hoping it would solve some problems. I dumped a ton of data on it, put it in a drawer and deleted files off my drive. Yes, I know. It’s not a backup if you only have one copy but it was only supposed to be temporary. I pulled the external out several weeks later and found that my computer couldn’t see it. I tried a couple other computers, checked my usb ports, but I got nothing. Dead. Dead. Dead. Well, there goes about 100g’s of stuff. Dennis found out they would replace it for free so I got a new one shortly after that. The second drive did the exact same thing. I fortunately didn’t lose any data that time because I still had the files on my computer.

Time Machine doesn’t cut it
In the interim I had a 500g external I was using for time-machine backups. (It now makes loud wheezy noises when turned on, which I won’t even get into here…) Time machine wasn’t ideal for my media files, since I just wanted a flat archive of my photos and videos. Every time I tried to go into time machine to find a file I couldn’t remember exactly when I had added it. I realized that time was irrelevant to my video management. I just wanted one location that had all the media that has every been on my computer.

When I couldn’t put off my problem any longer I seriously started looking around for alternative backup solutions. I carefully read through the feature lists of many backup programs. None of them explicitly described solving my problem. I decided to try Super Duper because it was free and there was nothing to lose. Super Duper truly lives up to it’s name. Even though the free version only does full backups I was allowed to play with their options. Back up specific folders, overwrite existing files, don’t delete any files. Huzzah! I gladly paid the $30 for the upgrade.

Here’s how you do it in Super Duper.

Create a new copy script


Give it a helpful description in case you forget what it does later on


Exclude all files. This list of scripts comes before the script commands.


Include specific folders to back up. All other files will be excluded due to the previous step.

Picture 18

Go to the options screen from the main application. Under “During Copy” select “Copy newer files from x to y”. None of the older files on the external will be deleted.


Then you’re ready to copy.


Now I back up my computer to an external and then sync one external with another. I then have two copies of all my files. It’s bliss.

Let the video creation continue!!

  4 Responses to “Too much video problem solved!”

  1. How beautiful is your harddrive, I’m so jealous, mine is just … black … snif !

  2. @tom thank you. they work really well. you can get one of these when yours is full

  3. Thanks a lot really for the reply and the advice (I had a look to the link … wow !!! I want everything !!!) – Out of topic : How cool ! I can read your blog on my mobile ! I can’t wait to have 3G and an iPhone but 3G is not yet ready (maybe in december) in my contry (french guyana, south america) – Bye !

  4. […] the continued battle against the hard disk limit, I found another useful tool. Grand Perspective gives you nice pretty drawings of your filesystem. […]

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