Tag Archives: time machine

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Missing Events and Photos in iPhoto?

Let me guess – you got your new iMac. You had a recent Time Machine backup on your Time Capsule. Setting up the new iMac was ridiculously easy — just point to the backup. A few hours later, your new iMac is just like your old Mac, right down to the wall paper and browser history. You shake your head in disbelief and say to yourself, “Man, this thing just works! This is the way it is supposed to be!”

A couple of days later, you fire up your iPhoto. It says it needs to update the database or whatever. No sweat. Just a couple of minutes — the new iMac is ridiculously fast. Hullo — what is wrong with the last four events? How come they have no photos in them? Well, actually, they do have something, you can see the thumbnails for a second, and then they disappear. The events seem to have the right number of photos. They even list the camera model and exposure data.

You scratch your head and say to yourself, “Well, may be the Time Machine backup didn’t unpack properly or whatever. May be the version upgrade messed up some data. No sweat. I can use the Time Machine and find the right iPhoto Library.” You fire up the Time Machine — probably for the first time for real. You restore the last good backup of the iPhoto Library to your desktop, and launch iPhoto again. Database update again. Anxious wait. Hey, the damned events are still missing.

Panic begins to set in. Mad Google for answers. Ok, hold down the Option and Command keys, and launch iPhoto. Regenerate thumbnails. Repair the library. Rebuild the Database. Still, the ****** events refuse to come back.

How do I know all this? Because this is exactly what I did. I was lucky though. I managed to recover the events. It dawned on me that the problem was not with the restore process, nor the version update of iPhoto. It was the Time Machine backup process — the backup was incomplete. I had the old Mac and the old iPhoto library intact. So I copied the old library over to the new iMac (directly, over the network; not from the Time Machine backup). I then started iPhoto on the new machine. After the necessary database update, all the events and photos showed up. Phew!

So what exactly went wrong? It appears that Time Machine doesn’t backup the iPhoto Library properly if iPhoto is open (according to Apple). More precisely, the recently imported photos and events may not get backed up. This bug (or “feature”) was reported earlier and discussed in detail.

I thought I would share my experience here because it was important piece of information and might save somebody some time, and possibly some valuable photos. And I feel it is disingenuous of Apple to tout the Time Machine as the mother of all backup solutions with this glaring bug. After all, your photos are among the most precious of your data. If they are not backed up and migrated properly, why bother with Time Machine at all?

To recap:

  1. If you find your photo collection incomplete after migrating to your shiny new iMac (using a Time Machine backup), don’t panic if you still have your old Mac.
  2. Exit gracefully from iPhoto on both the machines.
  3. Copy your old iPhoto Library from the old Mac over to the new one, after properly exiting from iPhoto on both machines.
  4. Restart iPhoto on the new Mac and enjoy.

How to prevent this from happening

Before the final Time Machine backup from your old Mac, ensure that iPhoto is not running. In fact, it may be worth exiting from all applications before taking the final snapshot.

If you want to be doubly sure, consider another automated backup solution just for your iPhoto Library. I use Carbon Copy Cloner.

Photo by Victor Svensson

Slow Time Machine with Time Capsule – SOLVED!

Let me guess — you bought a new Time Capsule, set up your Time Machine to back up half a terabyte of family photos and home videos, and expected it to be “hands-free” from then on? Then you got this progress bar saying that it will take 563 days (or some such rediculous number) to sync?

Your next step was to trawl Google, which would have shown you that you are not alone. You would have tried disk utility to repair your Time Capsule disk, disabled Spotlight indexing, connected your Mac directly to TC etc. Nothing has helped so far? Fear not, here is what you need to do.

First of all, launch your software update pane from your system preferences on your Mac.
Mac Software Update
Ensure that you have this update, which specifically addresses this problem.
Mac Software Update

Here is what Apple says about this update:

About OS X Lion 10.7.5 Supplemental Update
The OS X v10.7.5 Supplemental Update is recommended for all users running OS X Lion v10.7.5 and includes the following fixes:

  • Resolves an issue that may cause Time Machine backups to take a very long time to complete
  • Addresses an issue that prevents certain applications signed with a Developer ID from launching

If it is not installed, click on the “Scheduled Check” tab, and install it. Note that it may be installed as bundled with other updates. So, as long as your Mac is up-to-date, you don’t have to worry too much about missing this particular update.

In all likelihood, this update is all that you will need to fix your slow Time Machine on Time Capsule To verify, restart your machine and launch Time Machine. Give it a few minutes and see if the speed is acceptable (about 10-20 MB a second on your wired Gigabit network).

If it is not, or if you have other reasons for not installing the update, there are a few other these tips you can try.

  • QuickSilver and Dropbox iconsQuit applications that may be indexing the file system. Dropbox, QuickSilver etc.  Find them on your menu bar. Right click on the icons and select Quit.
  • Finder optionEnsure that Finder is not set to show all size. Open a Finder window, hit Cmd-J to bring up these options, and ensure that the Calculate All Sizes is not ticked (despite the fact that it is shown ticked in the screenshot here).

    Note that it is not under the usual Finder preferences, which you would bring up using Cmd-I.

  • Kill FinderThe last thing to try is to kill and relaunch Finder. Click on the Apple logo on any menu bar, select “Force Quit…” to bring up the window show, select Finder and hit the Relaunch button

The last step (of killing and relaunching Finder) has been touted as something that definitely works. So do give it a try if nothing else helps. Another way of killing and relaunching Finder is to issue the command killall Finder from a terminal window.

If these tips didn’t work, you are pretty much out of luck. There are still one more thing you could try, which probably will not work. It certainly didn’t, for me, but gave me a sense that I was “fixing” the problem.

Connect your Time Capsule (TC) directly to your Mac. In order to do this, follow these steps.

  • First, connect your TC to your network, and set it up using the Airport Utility.
  • Disconnect it from your network. (Disconnect the ethernet cable.)
  • Disconnect the ethernet cable from your Mac, and connect TC (one of the three output ports) to your Mac.