Copying large amounts of data from an old drive to a new one on macOS using rsync

Whenever you buy a new hard drive, the question comes up:

How do you copy a huge amount of data from old drive(s) to the new one reliably and quickly?

Dragging files and folders in Finder is not a good option, because if something goes wrong, you will have no idea what went wrong and where it went wrong. And there is no way to resume a previous copy. 

rsync to the rescue!

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iOS Shortcut: create an image grid of album covers from a Spotify playlist

This iOS Shortcut might be very specific, but it’s certainly a great place to get started with APIs in the app. The image grid it creates is only one example. You can do so much more! Maybe create spreadsheets with the track information, extract ISRCs or similar information that Spotify has available through their API. Or do you want to download and backup your Spotify playlist track lists to Dropbox? This is certainly a good place to start!

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iOS Shortcuts User Guide on Apple’s Website

Apple has released a great guide for their new Shortcuts app on their website. It’s the best starting point if you want to dive into Shortcuts and work out how it can make your automated life easier. 

There’s also a great resource on macsparky.com for anyone who prefers to learn by watching videos. It’s not free but it’s worth checking out!

Last, but most certainly not least: there’s much more on macstories.net!

Out of nowhere: updated MacBook Pro (2018)

The updated MacBook Pro (2018) is here and it’s what I expect in a pro computer:

  • 6-core Intel 8th generation (Coffee Lake) Core i7 and Core i9 processors up to 2.9 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.8 GHz
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 memory (FINALLY!)
  • Radeon Pro graphics with 4GB of video memory
  • Up to 4TB of SSD storage (if you have more money than god)
  • True Tone displays
  • Apple T2 chip

The main improvement seems to be the extra RAM on the 15 inch and the (hopefully fixed) keyboard. 

I have the maxed out 2016 Touch Bar MacBook Pro and the main thing I noticed compared to my previous machine (late 2013 maxed out MacBook Pro) is that it’s maybe around 15% faster when rendering a 3D scene. Not worth the AU$5600 I paid for the upgrade.

Keyboard Trouble

Especially if you look at the keyboard issue I had where Apple first replaced a key and then ended up replacing the entire top case (keyboard, battery etc.) as well as the display. A AU$1500 repair for a sticky “B” key on a laptop!

Alternative: iMac Pro

If you want to fork out top dollar for this MacBook Pro, I would recommend that you look at the iMac Pro instead. You’re entering similar pricing territory but the iMac gives you better performance by a long shot. 

In my informal rendering tests, the iMac Pro (mid-level) outperforms the top of the line 2016 MacBook Pro by a factor of 3!

If you don’t need the portability or you’re willing to be this guy

Why?

it’s worth considering the iMac Pro instead of the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro 2018.

But seriously… Don’t be THAT guy.

Let‘s talk backups

You could say that I‘m crazy about backing up. Let’s face it: most people don’t think about it. In 2018, it is still difficult to set up, can get expensive and there is no “set it & forget it” solution.

If you’re all-in on Apple, you can pay for iCloud and it will cover you for most scenarios even though some of the Desktop and Documents syncing is unreliable at best. Your iOS devices and photos are pretty well backed up.

But is that enough? 

Of course not! Like most people who are thinking about backups, I have adopted the 3, 2, 1 backup strategy. But I also added a fourth copy because it doesn’t take that much extra work once you have the basics in place.

My setup 

My setup consists of an iMac and a MacBook Pro which are more or less in sync using cloud services: a mix of Dropbox, iCloud and Google Drive for work. Some might see that as backed up already, but remember: Dropbox is not a backup! It’s very close to that though! It’s the first place I go to when I need to revert a corrupt file or restore a previous state of my documents. It’s faster and more intuitive than any “real backup”.

What’s the “real backup”?

  1. First copy: the main copy on the internal drive
  2. Time Machine: this is just running in case I need to revert something that can’t be done through Dropbox
  3. Backblaze: off-site copy of all important parts of my system
  4. Super Duper Scheduled bootable clone: every day at the end of the working day, Super Duper creates a bootable copy of my internal drive on an external USB drive. 

Add in the cloud services and the habit to store everything on Dropbox instead of using the Desktop or Document folders locally and you’ve got a pretty solid backup strategy with plenty of room to recover from any possible failures.

Especially since these backups are running on 2 separate computers where the files are in sync as well. That means that I can also revert from my iMac to my MacBook Pro and vice versa. Which makes this an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 backup!? 😂

Let’s quickly talk external drives

Any external drive also has to be backed up to Backblaze and will need at least one scheduled copy. This has the unfortunate site effect that every harddrive purchase means that you need to buy two drives instead of one. Depending on your storage needs, that might not be feasible.

But if losing data is the other option, buying 2 drives is really worth it!