Patience, young grasshopper

I installed a program recently that overwrote some scripts in a folder. Scripts that I had already customized. I guess the developer thought, “Hey, if Apple can overwrite user customizations with impunity, then so can I.” They should have simply renamed the original files, but that would have taken an extra line or two of code.

No problem, I’ll restore from Time Machine. Hmm… Time Machine won’t launch. Oh, it seems it’s still running. The app always used to run at the same time allowing restores while backing up, but maybe this is yet another Apple “improvement.” I’ll wait.

Nope. Time Machine still won’t launch. I’ll worry later about fixing another of the never-ending bugs in macOS High Sierra—or as I like to call it—macOS Stoner. In the meantime I guess I’ll have to resort to using Arq Backup. And into the rabbit hole I fall…

Continue reading “Patience, young grasshopper”


There’s nothing I like better on a holiday Monday morning than to document another in the never-ending stream of Arq Backup bugs. This app, by far, dominates the computer problems I see on any platform.

The Arq Bug Of the Day™ is its auto-update feature. Now, this is something I’ve had problems with since day one, but I haven’t bothered mentioning until now. Why now? Because today I found out that this is one of those special Arq bugs where the feature doesn’t work when you want it to, and works when you don’t want it to.

Continue reading “Auto-ignore”

You can’t make me

This post started off as a simple update to my previous post. But as I delved into the problem that I was seeing with Arq Backup, I went further down the rabbit hole until I decided it warranted its own post.

While keeping an eye on my changes to my monitor scripts to support parallel execution of backups and validation, I noticed that Arq went off the rails and took over 11 hours to scan 302 GB, which it normally does in a few minutes. Why? I have no idea. There was nothing in the logs.

Continue reading “You can’t make me”

The case of the missing API

I’m old enough to remember the “good ‘ol days” when an OS X app was AppleScriptable, including having triggers. While AppleScript is far from being my favourite language, it does some things very well and hey, something is better than nothing. Due to the notorious iTunes and it’s partner in crime, iCloud Match, I’ve needed AppleScript to fix up major problems in the iTunes database. It was a lifesaver.

Some apps, especially cloud apps, will provide an API you can use to execute functions and receive event notifications. Then there are the apps that simply call a shell script but don’t accept much control in return. Finally, there are apps that are closed, isolated, and give you the finger if you try to control them.

In the last year, I’ve had to expend a lot of time on Arq Backup due to some serious bugs and design deficiencies. I’ve written a complex hodgepodge of Python scripts, Hazel triggers, and a PHP script to give me a web interface into Arq’s status so I can watch it like a hawk. I wish I could set and forget, but Arq requires a lot of babysitting. It’s a complex interface because Arq doesn’t have an API. It will call pre and post-backup shell scripts, but there are major problems with its design.

Continue reading “The case of the missing API”

It all fits—well, sorta

One of my Arq Backups finally hit the disk limit. This was expected as I had not set a budget, so the backup kept growing until it failed. Unlike Time Machine, when Arq hits a limit it does not automatically delete old backups. This is good because it lets me decide if I want to move the backup to a larger disk. If I don’t, I can always set a budget to be slightly less than the size of the disk. I like that it’s my choice.

So I set the budget and manually told Arq to enforce the budget. For 240 GB over 185 backups, it took about 3 hours to figure out what needed to be deleted. But the results were … uh … curious.

Continue reading “It all fits—well, sorta”

Arq Backup—Too Many, Too Fast

Too many SFTP connections, too fast that is.

After configuring an SFTP destination, Arq 5.10 opens and closes multiple SFTP connections per second while backing up. This causes my web hosting service,, to treat Arq as if it’s doing a Denial of Service attack (which it sort of is), and blocks further connections resulting in most backups failing. I get maybe one backup a month that makes it through.

It was working when I first bought Arq 5.0, then it was broken, I reported the problem, it was fixed, then broken again. After my last report support replied in July,

I’m afraid Arq is going to need multiple SFTP connections.

So the developer refuses to fix the problem. I can’t remember the number of file transfer apps I’ve used over the years to access 1and1’s servers without an issue. Arq is the only app that will not work, and it’s design intent.

Continue reading “Arq Backup—Too Many, Too Fast”

Recovering from an Arq Backup semi-permanent error

Error: pack index data length 3292 is smaller than size of pack_index + index_objects

I’ve experienced this semi-permanent Arq Backup bug on enough occasions on various computers, sadly, that I’ve become adept at resolving them without needing to contact Arq’s support. That means I can get the backup running again in a short period of time without the need to go back and forth with support.

If you’re seeing these errors too, follow along to see what I do to correct this nasty condition and allow the backup to resume.

Continue reading “Recovering from an Arq Backup semi-permanent error”

Customer communication is overrated

Recently my web and email host, @1and1, removed the ability to manage a domain I was assigned when I first joined them years ago. Worse, they didn’t inform me ahead of time. So now I can no longer control email accounts for that domain. That means once an account starts getting spam, I can no longer route it to the bit bucket.

Here’s how it used to work.

Continue reading “Customer communication is overrated”