DV Backup by Tim Hewett is a free Cocoa GUI tool for backing up and restoring files with a DV or Digital8 camcorder by transferring data over FireWire to the tape within.
After installation, all you need to do is connect your camera, turn it on, and then start DV Backup. Make sure your camera is in play (VCR) mode so DV Backup can be used to control the tape (play, rewind, and so on), and perform the backup.
I tested DV Backup with my Canon MV550i and all was well. However, not all cameras are supported, so your mileage may vary. See the readme file included with the program for a list of supported cameras.
At present, DV Backup only transfers single files from your hard disk to the tape. Hence, an archive must be created first if you want multiple files and directories backed up. OS X’s native tar application and Stuffit are both well suited to archive creation.
With your desired files and directories archived, click ‘Backup…’, then choose the file. It’s recommended that the default error protection level of ‘full duplication’ be used while performing a backup. Although this method will result in 5GB of storage per 60 minutes of tape rather than 10GB, duplicate data can be used to correct errors in the original file if they occur.
DV Backup transferred a 1,028MB archive of my applications partition to tape in six minutes and four seconds – a rate of just over 2.8MB per second. This is below the theoretical maximum of 3.5MB per second for a DV tape.
Restoring a file is just as easy as backing one up; however, you need to position the tape a few seconds before the beginning of the file so its header will be detected. Therein lies one of DV Backup’s biggest flaws – lack of data visibility. The user is required to manually record the time on the tape counter instead of being able to simply click on a file.
Nevertheless, the restoration of my applications partition was successful, and testing the programs ensured that file integrity was maintained throughout the process.
The fact that DV Backup requires users to manually create archives and track the position of the data on the tape makes it more of an archiving application rather than modern backup utility. Also, being able to boot off a camcorder in order to restore an entire system is unlikely to be possible anytime soon.