This morning started like any other. I was helping the kids start their day and working on the handoff once my Wife got up so that I could go on my morning run. As I usually do I put on my Bluetooth headphones to listen to a podcast while getting my running gear together. Unfortunately the podcast that I was in the middle of had disappeared from my iPad. This has happened to me a couple of time recently when it seems that iTunes thinks I have finished the podcast and so removes it from my device when it syncs. I have my settings set so that they are removed once I complete them and deleted from iTunes as well the next time the podcast is updated. Generally it works like a charm. At first I thought this was another glitch like before so I went to my Macbook Pro to mark the podcast as new so that it would sync again. This was my second realization when I noticed that ALL my podcasts subscriptions had disappeared from iTunes. As I investigated further I realized that all my iOS apps were gone as well. Not only from iTunes on my computer but they had been removed from my iPad and iPhone with the last sync.
I use 4 apps when I run, Hal Higdons 1/2 marathon training, MotionX GPS to track my path, Glympse so that my wife can see where I am, and Audible for an audiobook while I run. Now none of these apps were on my iPhone. I was able to download them again relatively quickly but it seemed that I had lost my app data as well so it was like starting from scratch.
I started my run late due to recovery of the apps, download of my audio book, and working feverishly to get some kind of restore going on my Macbook Pro that would recover everything. This was the icing on the cake when I also realized that something happened to my Time Capsule link in that it said there were no previous backups even though I could see the sparcebundle on the disk.
I hooked my Macbook Pro up directly to the Time Capsule with an ethernet cable and began a Migration Wizard run to restore my user folder. It was going to make a backup of the old one and I believed my most recent backup was less than a day old so I didn't think I would lose anything. When I got back from my run I saw that there was not enough space on my disk to restore my massive user folder. I was worried about this. I started exploring freeing space on my drive to make room for a restore and then I had another thought. If the primary issue was iTunes then maybe I could just restore my library from my online backup.
I use Crashplan for off-site backup so I connected and restored my iTunes library files. I could see that the restored file was about 5 times bigger than the current library file so that helped me to feel like I was on the right track. I copied those files over (just a few MB) and started up iTunes.
Everything was back. It looks like the main file that did the trick was "iTunes Library.itl." Now my devices would sync but it did seem to lose all my folder information for organizing the apps and of couse I already mentioned the app data. Now, here I sit waiting for a complete restore of both devices from my iCloud backups when were current up through yesterday which is good enough for me. As I sit typing this I can see that the restore took care of recovering all my folders and app organization on the iPad.
Now I do worry a bit that there is a larger problem at work here since my iTunes Library was corrupted AND my Time Machine backup connection seems to be broken. I think before taking a scorched earth approach by rebuilding everything on my Macbook Pro I will see if I can reestablish the Time Machine backup and just keep an eye on it. Hopefully it was just a case of Gremlins this morning.
I would say the lesson here is that on-site backup is very good but you also need off-site. Multiple options at the point of file restore is key amidst a crisis.