When is a Backup NOT a Backup…

Posted on Thursday 23 June 2011

When it uses iTunes…. unfortunately 👿

Don’t get me wrong, iTunes does a great job of keeping track of music, pictures and any app’s that you may have installed from their store…. but it’s the little things that it ignores.

You know, like configuration files!

Here is the set up…

I have an iPad and an iPhone and my machine runs Ubuntu Linux.

It was just recently upgraded to Ubuntu Natty Narwhal.

To “sync” my iDevices with iTunes i run a Windows XP environment inside of Virtualbox ( an emulator program that lets you run a different computer inside your regular computer. )

Here is a long and very painful story made a lot shorter… and if it sounds confusing, it’s because it is…. I’m still scratching my head over much of it.

After quite a few “issues” with the upgrade to Natty ( many things no longer worked as they should have – and this is yet another rant/reason as to why Linux isn’t ready for “regular users”! ) I finally got, or so I thought, everything working together. Or so I thought.

My iPad was due for a backup after putting a lot of new apps and information on it and so I flashed up my iTunes within Windows within Virtualbox within Ubuntu and after a very Very long time. A backup – I use that word lightly now…. was created. Note that the iPad connects to the computer via a USB port, this is important for later….

After which I was notified that a minor update for my iPad was available. So I said “sure”…. such a short word to lead to such a long and painful process….

iTunes does an odd thing when it does an update, it appears to first wipe out what is on the iPad ( the Operating System )before installing the update ( instead of overwriting )…. at least that is what it looks like from my end. Anyways all went well until the time came to install the new and improved “minor” fix.

Virtualbox, although it saw that the iPad was connected, refused to mount it ( make it available ) so that it could be actually used by iTunes…. matter of fact it refused to mount anything via USB at all except for my USB connected printers!

This took hours to track down and fix. From what I was able to discern, Ubuntu in it’s “non-commerical”  wisdom decided to replace the usual Virtualbox with Virtualbox-OSE. I’m still not sure what the difference is, nor do I care, but I stumbled across several other articles about how the OSE version won’t let you use USB connections…..  umm… but….. sigh…

I finally gave up and purged everything Virtualbox from the system ( sudo apt-get remove –purge virtualb* ) after which I went directly to Oracle’s ( used to be Sun for those in the know ) Virtualbox website and downloaded their latest non-OSE version of Virtualbox.

It too complained about not being able to support USB devices unless I added myself to the virtualbox group ( which I had previously done, but it may have been deleted by either the upgrade or the purge… sorry not sure about that one ) AND that I install something called an Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack. Which is a completely new thing for me…. but I did and it worked!


Remember that bit I mentioned about wiping the software before installing the minor upgrade? Well, once I got iTunes back up and running and looking at the iPad it said… and I paraphrase with sarcasm added …. “So sorry, but your iPad has to have it’s original software reinstalled in order to work with iTunes….. sigh.

So I did that, and then it automatically went into a Sync mode  and started reinstalling everything that was missing from my last backup and after several hours….. I had my iPad back….

Well….. sort of. As it would seem that all of the configuration files – like those for connecting to my WiFi. My email logins, all my news feeds that fed all my different programs etc etc etc. Were all MISSING! I have to redo all of that, and remember all my news sites from memory…..

Oh and before I forget, it took ALL of my apps and placed them one by one on the iPad…. All the folders that I had them organized in were gone as well….. It took me three hours just to recreate and shrink down stuff back into folders! All my news feeds….. well I may never get all of them back! 😥

So, I don’t know why I was able to connect with my USB cables “for a while” using something that supposedly wouldn’t let me connect at all. And why Apple in it’s wisdom does updates the way it does boggles my mind.

But I can guaranty that there are a LOT of people out there who will be as “ticked” and as shocked as I am when they one day discover that the SYNC that iTunes does only Syncs what Apple thinks is important – the apps and doesn’t do a thing to protect your system from loss of configuration data! They really gotta fix that!

I’ve also done a fair bit of searching trying to find an app or any other utility that will let one backup EVERYTHING on the iPad/iPhone/etc. And so far, I haven’t found one that I would dare to try – kinda sad isn’t it 🙄

I’ll let you know if ever I do, and if you find or are using something that works for you – let me know – PLEASE! 😯

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