I'm having a recurring problem backing up my mac.
August 26, 2007 5:38 AM   Subscribe

I'm having a recurring problem backing up my mac. One specific file seems to be causing the problem, but I can't find it anywhere on my mac. Help?

I use SuperDuper to back up regularly to an external hard drive. I often get an "input/output error" from a specific file on my mac (diff each time), which I easily fix by just deleting the offending file from my mac, assuming the file is corrupted). This usually works fine for me.

But now I'm getting errors on this file:


Which I can't find anywhere on my mac OR on my external HD.

I recently did an "archive and reinstall" of OSX 10.4.8, and then updated to 10.4.10. I tried erasing the external HD and doing a fresh backup, but today I got this error:

| 07:26:36 AM | Info | /bin
| 07:26:36 AM | Info | /usr
| 07:27:46 AM | Info | WARNING: Caught I/O exception(5): Input/output error
| 07:27:46 AM | Info | WARNING: Source: /usr/lib/libncurses.5.4.dylib, lstat(): 0
| 07:27:46 AM | Info | WARNING: Target: /Volumes/Portable Hard Drive/usr/lib/libncurses.5.4.dylib, lstat(): 0
| 07:27:46 AM | Info | Attempting to copy file using copyfile().
| 07:28:27 AM | Info | Attempting to copy file using ditto.
| 07:29:09 AM | Error | ditto: /usr/lib/./libncurses.5.4.dylib: Input/output error
| 07:29:09 AM | Error | SDCopy: Failed to recover from copy error for file /usr/lib/libncurses.5.4.dylib: Operation not supported
| 07:29:09 AM | Error | ****FAILED****: result=256 errno=22 (Unknown error: 0)

Help? What is this file, and how can I remove it from my mac?
posted by kdern to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know but Dave Nanian responds very quickly to questions posted on
SuperDuper!'s forums
posted by dance at 5:44 AM on August 26, 2007

You don't say if you did a findfile for invisible files. (Finder, Find/File and set options to visibility) If you can find it there it should be an easy thing to trash.
posted by Gungho at 6:28 AM on August 26, 2007

The '.' in the the middle of that path should be ignored. In unix-like OSs, inside every directory, there's a link to the current directory named '.' and a link to the parent directory named '..', so if you see either of those in a path, you either ignore it or go up one directory. Also, the /usr directory is generally hidden. You can still get to it by hitting Shift-Command-G and typing '/usr/lib' to go directly to the directory.

OTOH, I would really not recommend deleting that file, since that's a library used for by many command-line programs, and could cause mysterious failures down the road.

There's a whole section in the SuperDuper User Guide about what causes I/O Errors and what to do about them. I'd say that, unless you have antivirus software installed, you're probably due for an 'archive-and-install' of the OS.

The only thing I'd add is first run Disk Utility, and look at the SMART status of the drive. It will appear along the bottom when you click on the drive icon on the left (the one that starts with the size and model of the drive itself, not the one with your startup disk name). If it says 'Failing', then just erase the file, back up everything you can and get a new drive ASAP.
posted by boaz at 6:49 AM on August 26, 2007

I just did an "archive and reinstall" yesterday, and then updated to the latest software version. The geniuses at the apples store even did it for me.

I did the search for hidden files and couldn't find this one.

What else can I try?
posted by kdern at 6:56 AM on August 26, 2007

It's an file in an invisible directory. Anything that has a preceeding period, is 'invisible' to the os.

You could use the rm command at the terminal to remove it.
Alternatively, you could grab a utility like Pathfinder (shareware) which should let you navigate to the file.

What's much more concerning is that your system keeps creating /damaging files.
posted by filmgeek at 7:10 AM on August 26, 2007

You can view the contents of the hidden "/usr/lib" folder by choosing "Go to Folder..." from the "Go" menu in Finder. Type "/usr/lib" (without the quotes) into the sheet and click the Go button. Finder will display the contents of this folder, including the "libncurses.5.4.dylib" dynamic library file. I wouldn't normally recommend you delete any file in this folder — but I suppose if deleting this file is the only way to get your backup to succeed, do what you have to do... However, I encourage you to find out what is wrong with your internal drive.
posted by RichardP at 7:18 AM on August 26, 2007

Filmgeek, it is not an invisible directory. See boaz's comment.
posted by dmd at 7:54 AM on August 26, 2007

It's an file in an invisible directory. Anything that has a preceeding period, is 'invisible' to the os.

No, "." is the current directory. It's a file in /usr/lib.
posted by mendel at 7:54 AM on August 26, 2007

I strongly advise not deleting that file, or any other files your software cannot back up.

If your backup software doesn't have file exclusion options, it's shitty backup software and you're better off using something else. A backup program should absolutely back up a program wether it's corrupted or not. Deleting files to make a backup program happy seems insanely counterproductive, especially when you're not sure what those files do.

Contact the developer. If they don't help, switch software.
posted by onedarkride at 8:32 AM on August 26, 2007

libncurses, as boaz points out, is a widely-used library that largely covers how text is written to the terminal (among other low-level uses). Don't mess with it.
posted by mkultra at 8:51 AM on August 26, 2007

BTW, I forgot to mention before that you can get to the SD User Guide by running SD and choosing 'User Guide' from the help menu.

Also, there are 'hidden prefs' programs, such as TinkerTool, that let you set the Finder to show invisible files if you're having trouble doing this otherwise.
posted by boaz at 9:16 AM on August 26, 2007

Whoa, whoa, do not just go deleting libraries will-nilly... ncurses is vital to the operation of many applications, and probably some of the things in the OS itself (for instance, if you were running SuSE, it would completely break YaST).

Don't delete it. Find a way to exclude it from your backups.

I would be interested to know why it can't be backed up, however. Even if it is in use while you are backing it up, there should not be a problem; it's a library, not a text file (say) being written to at the moment of backup.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 9:36 AM on August 26, 2007

To rule out an issue with SuperDuper, you could try booting from your OS X Install CD/DVD and use Disk Utility to back up your HD to a disc image.

I've been working with OS X image creation since 10.2, using Carbon Copy Cloner and Disk Utility and I've never run across a file that couldn't be backed up.
posted by porn in the woods at 10:57 AM on August 26, 2007

Yeah, I'd write to the SuperDuper guys about this. I use SuperDuper and I've never had a problem like this, and I have fink installed and thus have tons and tons of weird libraries. This sounds more like a disk error, actually.
posted by dmd at 1:26 PM on August 26, 2007

Re: Searching for invisible files – the Spotlight/Finder search won't look within hidden directories like 'usr' or 'bin'. Use something like EasyFind to search everywhere on a volume.
posted by D.C. at 11:46 PM on August 26, 2007

Ditto on what dmd said. More of a disk error, run disk utility, and have a look at the permissions on the file. It sounds like a link is pooched.

DO NOT DELETE IT. It is a unix file that handles the terminal stuff. If you have deleted it, then it is a simple matter of re-installing it. However, if your backup program won't back it up, chances are you can't delete it.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 7:59 AM on August 27, 2007

Update for future readers... hard disc problems have continued, and things just keep going wrong. Now the computer is shutting down and starting up whenever it feels like it, and I continue to find corrupted files.

I have sent the computer back to Apple (it's only 1 year old) and am hoping they'll replace the hard drive or, even better, the whole computer (the screen has problems too!).

Thanks for the advice.
posted by kdern at 12:34 PM on September 12, 2007

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