Graphic Arts’ IT Guy – October 2008

Q. I am having trouble with Time Capsule, and I don’t think that it is backing up. I get an error saying that the backup disk image could not be mounted. How can I fix this?

Time Capsule

A. Time Capsule, as you may know, is an additional tool to help users backup their Macs wirelessly over a local network. Users running Mac OS X 10.5, aka Leopard, can take advantage of the new easy-to-use backup feature, Time Machine. That way, they can protect their valuable data in case some disaster strikes their computer.

Time Machine and Time Capsule will backup data every hour that the Mac is running. Initially, it does a complete backup, and then tracks and backs up any changed files, so you can recover a file or the entire computer’s system and data if either is lost.

Some users have experienced similar problems with the initial versions of the Time Machine. For every Mac that it backs up, it creates an image of the hard drive in the form of a sparse disk image. A disk image is a file that behaves like a removable hard drive; a sparse one doesn’t have a fixed size so it can grow as required. For some reason, the sparse image may get damaged – afterwards it may not mount normally so that it can be written to or read from.

The fix for this is simple: your Time Capsule should appear in the Finder’s side bar. Open a new Finder window if one is not already open. If you don’t see the sidebar, click the white lozenge in the top right corner of the window. Open the Time Capsule’s drive where you will see one or more “sparsebundle” files. Look for the one that matches your computer’s name, along with a jumble of letters and numbers. My computer’s Time Machine file is named “macbook_001b639842a7.sparsebundle.” The jumble represents your ethernet address, which you can find under Network in System Preferences.

To fix the problem, simply rename the file by changing a few letters or numbers. The next time the Time Capsule backs up your Mac it will see the file is missing and automatically create a new one. After a few days of successful backup, you can delete the older backup file.

Q. Help! All my photos have disappeared since I installed iLife, and I cannot find them in iPhoto. If I search for them nothing shows up.

A. Your photos are probably safe and sound. As mentioned in a previous article, Apple has changed the way that photos or .jpg files are stored in iPhoto. iPhoto consists of a data base and a series of folders. Your images will be imported automatically, sorted by date and stored. You can then add information and edit a version of the files.

In the past, Apple created a folder called “iPhoto Library” inside your Photos folder. That folder contained all the information and files that iPhoto needs to function. To protect the files, Apple changed the folder format into a “package,” which is a special folder that appears to be a single file called “iPhoto Library” in your Photos folder. If you right click or hold down the Control key and click the file with the mouse, you can choose “Show Package Contents” and you will reveal the hidden folders and files.

If you search for a file called “iPhoto Library,” you will probably find two files; one in your Photos folder – which the iPhoto application created the last time you opened it – and another older, larger “iPhoto Library” file in another location. It was probably moved by misadventure or accident. You can verify this by “Showing Package Contents” on the older file. Rename the newer file – or it will be overwritten – and put the older file back in place, in Photos, and reopen iPhoto; your images should be restored.

Also note that if you are running Leopard, you will be able to search for your files inside the “iPhoto Library” package without opening it.