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How not to backup to DVD+R faster

My backup strategy for the three household Macs involves periodic archiving of about 60 GB data from an external hard drive (to which the “daily” backups are made) to DVD+R discs. Now that there are 16x DVD burners on the market for under $100, I figured it was time to upgrade in order to speed up the process. I wanted to go from a DVR-106 to a DVR-108, which is supported by my backup program (Retrospect); but by the time I was ready to pull the trigger it had been replaced by the DVR-109. Well, OK, I figured; it’s probably enough like the 108 that I can get Retrospect configured to use it.

Trying to save a few bucks, I purchased a bare drive and an external FireWire enclosure from an online media vendor (SuperMediaStore.com) that had a good price. I did this on a Tuesday and requested two-day shipping, so I’d have it in time for the weekend. Long story short: the enclosure turned out not to be in stock; I tried to get the vendor to send the drive out early; they ended up shipping the entire order a week later. So much for two-day shipping. [I emailed them that I was annoyed my entire order had been delayed for an item the web site had said was in stock; and would some portion of my wasted two-day shipping charges be refunded? I’m still waiting for an answer on that one…]

When the package arrived, I found the bare drive wrapped in bubble wrap and thrown into the box along with the enclosure and a bunch of foam peanuts. I know I didn’t order a retail pack, but I expected the drive to at least be in a *box*. Still, everything appeared to be in order and undamaged.

Turns out the Bytecc enclosure is so cheaply made that the plastic strips that are supposed to cover the gap between the top and bottom lids don’t fit properly. Well, never mind; at this point I really just want to get the drive to work. System Profiler recognized it; Retrospect didn’t, but I expected that. Started up the configuration process; Retrospect asked for a disc of the type to be used for the backup, so I gave it a blank 16x DVD+R disc. Then it asked for another one. Then it gave up with an uninformative error message (after burning just enough data to each disc to make it unusable). In a momentary lapse of reason, I tried again with the same result.

Hey, didn’t I hear there was a firmware update for the 109 to support additional high-speed media? Oh, wait, the Mac flasher doesn’t support the 109. Great. Hey, somebody at [xlr8yourmac.com](http://www.xlr8yourmac.com) says you can use Virtual PC and a USB connection. Let’s see, my PowerBook has a USB 2.0 connection, and I’ve got this spare hard disk enclosure that happens to have USB 2.0. By perching the 109 on the 3.5″ case I was able to hook it up to the USB connector and thence to the PowerBook. The Pioneer flasher worked perfectly under Virtual PC — the first thing that had gone completely right.

It turned out to be the only thing. System Profiler reported the updated firmware, but once again Retrospect failed to configure the drive, Now I’ve wasted *six* blank discs and about two hours of time.

At this point I did what I should have done in the first place: I called Other World Computing, which is one of the two vendors Dantz includes on their compatibility list with FireWire DVR-108 drives. They now show their burner with the 109 (like everywhere else, the 108 seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth). They also explicitly list Retrospect compatibility, but I thought I’d better make sure. The person I spoke to initially claimed it was supported as a “generic” device, but after checking with someone said they’d just sent a sample to Dantz and in about six weeks they’d have built-in support. (He implied my problem coniguring the 109 was the case I was using, but of course he’d say that.)

End result: As a result of not wanting to wait a few weeks and trying to save a few bucks, I have a DVR-109 drive in a cheesy FireWire case that (thanks to [PatchBurn 3](http://www.patchburn.de/)) will apparently work with everything *except* Retrospect — the one thing I wanted to use it for.