OS X Backup Strategies

harddrive.jpg

I’ve had several people ask me about backup strategies lately so I thought I’d share a post about my ideas on the subject. A backup plan doesn’t need to be complicated. With some of the new tools available it doesn’t even have to be expensive. It just needs to follow a few simple rules.

1. Keep it Simple.

The more complex you make your backup plan, the less likely you are to follow it. Complexity used to be a requisite of a backup strategy. Thankfully that is not true any more.

2. One Backup is Quaint, Two Backups are Secure.

If you have your data backed up in one place you are “probably” okay. However there are a variety of circumstances that may cause one backup to be one too few. For instance, what if:

* You have a power surge that blows out your computer and your backup drive;

* A thief steals your computer and the shiny Western Digital box sitting next to it;

* Your computer fails and unbeknownst to you, your backup drive has been broken for several months?

That last one happened to a friend of mine. He lost five years worth of family photos. So having two backups in two different places is probably a good idea. If you don’t have a choice and only have one backup drive, I recommend you don’t keep it plugged in and store it somewhere else in your home.

My Backup Plan

My backup plan uses three external hard drives. I could pull it off with two but I happen to have an extra drive and I am a bit irrational when it comes to backups. So, anyway, my backup gear is …

1. a 1TB Western Digital MyBook with Firewire 800;
2. a 500GB Western Digital USB 2.0 Drive;
3. a 320GB Lacie USB 2.0 Drive.

My plan involves a combination of Carbon Copy Cloner and Time Machine. I was a happy user of SuperDuper but I’m still waiting for them to release a Leopard version. So my strategy is to keep it simple and keep in two places so what I do is this:

At Home …

I keep the 1TB and 320GB home on my desk. The 1TB drive holds my Time Machine drive and other miscellaneous stuff that doesn’t get copied in Time Machine like my Parallels folder, Aperture library, and a few other oversized files. The 320GB is used for my clone image whether it be Carbon Copy Cloner or (hopefully soon) SuperDuper. I do the clone a few times a week. Now I know 320GB is a lot for a clone drive. But if everything goes according to plan … I just may need that space soon. More to come on that later.

At Work …

The 500GB drive stays at my office and also holds a clone of my drive plus other miscellaneous media. The clone gets run a few times a week. Often I’ll set it to copy before heading off to lunch or a long meeting.

That is it. Simple system + multiple locations = Backup mojo.

So that is the heavy lifting of my backup plan. There are a few extra wrinkles however. For instance, I use my iDisk to keep copies of my essential documents. I know keeping it synced requires a nice chunk of hard drive space but I’m okay with that. I also store some files in the cloud in other places (Mozy is a good solution), and often carry copies of my most recent stuff on a 2GB thumb stick. I don’t do any backups to CD or DVD. It reminds me too much of the bad old days and boxes of floppies.

Let me know your plan or share it in the comments.

25 Comments OS X Backup Strategies

  1. steveklinck@mac.com

    by the way, superduper works fine with leopard, i have it on my hard drive right now! check it out

    Reply
  2. steveklinck@mac.com

    by the way, superduper works fine with leopard, i have it on my hard drive right now! check it out

    Reply
  3. steveklinck@mac.com

    by the way, superduper works fine with leopard, i have it on my hard drive right now! check it out

    Reply
  4. steveklinck@mac.com

    by the way, superduper works fine with leopard, i have it on my hard drive right now! check it out

    Reply
  5. steveklinck@mac.com

    by the way, superduper works fine with leopard, i have it on my hard drive right now! check it out

    Reply
  6. johnnykuz@zoominternet.net

    Sounds like a good strategy. I got around the power outage issue with a ReadyNAS system that I equipped as a 3TB RAID connected to a UPS. Has worked flawlessly through several short outages. The ReadyNAS safely shuts everything down when battery power begins to drop on the UPS. The outages so far have been short enough that everything just kept humming & no shutdown was needed. The hot swap drive feature with automatic recovery allows it to withstand drive failures with no data loss.

    In addition, the ReadyNAS has a (2) USB2 ports to connect a backup drive for itself so I have one button secondary backup at will. My big concern is the family digital video files, family pics, and my music collection (which is quite large).

    Needless to say, it wasn’t cheap, but I felt like I needed a non-cluttered, secure solution to protect all of the time, effort, and memories of the last 10 years or so of digital media that I have stored.

    Reply
  7. johnnykuz@zoominternet.net

    Sounds like a good strategy. I got around the power outage issue with a ReadyNAS system that I equipped as a 3TB RAID connected to a UPS. Has worked flawlessly through several short outages. The ReadyNAS safely shuts everything down when battery power begins to drop on the UPS. The outages so far have been short enough that everything just kept humming & no shutdown was needed. The hot swap drive feature with automatic recovery allows it to withstand drive failures with no data loss.

    In addition, the ReadyNAS has a (2) USB2 ports to connect a backup drive for itself so I have one button secondary backup at will. My big concern is the family digital video files, family pics, and my music collection (which is quite large).

    Needless to say, it wasn’t cheap, but I felt like I needed a non-cluttered, secure solution to protect all of the time, effort, and memories of the last 10 years or so of digital media that I have stored.

    Reply
  8. johnnykuz@zoominternet.net

    Sounds like a good strategy. I got around the power outage issue with a ReadyNAS system that I equipped as a 3TB RAID connected to a UPS. Has worked flawlessly through several short outages. The ReadyNAS safely shuts everything down when battery power begins to drop on the UPS. The outages so far have been short enough that everything just kept humming & no shutdown was needed. The hot swap drive feature with automatic recovery allows it to withstand drive failures with no data loss.

    In addition, the ReadyNAS has a (2) USB2 ports to connect a backup drive for itself so I have one button secondary backup at will. My big concern is the family digital video files, family pics, and my music collection (which is quite large).

    Needless to say, it wasn’t cheap, but I felt like I needed a non-cluttered, secure solution to protect all of the time, effort, and memories of the last 10 years or so of digital media that I have stored.

    Reply
  9. johnnykuz@zoominternet.net

    Sounds like a good strategy. I got around the power outage issue with a ReadyNAS system that I equipped as a 3TB RAID connected to a UPS. Has worked flawlessly through several short outages. The ReadyNAS safely shuts everything down when battery power begins to drop on the UPS. The outages so far have been short enough that everything just kept humming & no shutdown was needed. The hot swap drive feature with automatic recovery allows it to withstand drive failures with no data loss.

    In addition, the ReadyNAS has a (2) USB2 ports to connect a backup drive for itself so I have one button secondary backup at will. My big concern is the family digital video files, family pics, and my music collection (which is quite large).

    Needless to say, it wasn’t cheap, but I felt like I needed a non-cluttered, secure solution to protect all of the time, effort, and memories of the last 10 years or so of digital media that I have stored.

    Reply
  10. johnnykuz@zoominternet.net

    Sounds like a good strategy. I got around the power outage issue with a ReadyNAS system that I equipped as a 3TB RAID connected to a UPS. Has worked flawlessly through several short outages. The ReadyNAS safely shuts everything down when battery power begins to drop on the UPS. The outages so far have been short enough that everything just kept humming & no shutdown was needed. The hot swap drive feature with automatic recovery allows it to withstand drive failures with no data loss.

    In addition, the ReadyNAS has a (2) USB2 ports to connect a backup drive for itself so I have one button secondary backup at will. My big concern is the family digital video files, family pics, and my music collection (which is quite large).

    Needless to say, it wasn’t cheap, but I felt like I needed a non-cluttered, secure solution to protect all of the time, effort, and memories of the last 10 years or so of digital media that I have stored.

    Reply
  11. neilanderson@cyclelogicpress.com

    Good suggestions. Time Machine, included with Leopard, has simplified my back-up process. Set it and forget it. Good idea on trying to restore something from the backup drive to make sure it’s actually working. Keeping a backup offsite is a good idea, too.

    Reply
  12. neilanderson@cyclelogicpress.com

    Good suggestions. Time Machine, included with Leopard, has simplified my back-up process. Set it and forget it. Good idea on trying to restore something from the backup drive to make sure it’s actually working. Keeping a backup offsite is a good idea, too.

    Reply
  13. neilanderson@cyclelogicpress.com

    Good suggestions. Time Machine, included with Leopard, has simplified my back-up process. Set it and forget it. Good idea on trying to restore something from the backup drive to make sure it’s actually working. Keeping a backup offsite is a good idea, too.

    Reply
  14. neilanderson@cyclelogicpress.com

    Good suggestions. Time Machine, included with Leopard, has simplified my back-up process. Set it and forget it. Good idea on trying to restore something from the backup drive to make sure it’s actually working. Keeping a backup offsite is a good idea, too.

    Reply
  15. neilanderson@cyclelogicpress.com

    Good suggestions. Time Machine, included with Leopard, has simplified my back-up process. Set it and forget it. Good idea on trying to restore something from the backup drive to make sure it’s actually working. Keeping a backup offsite is a good idea, too.

    Reply
  16. macwingnut@gmail.com

    Wow, you have a veritable hareem of hard disks.

    You have got me thinking – is my back up strategy fatally flawed or not.

    So this may or may not be of interest to you…

    But, either way I’m going to share it with you.

    We are one mac household. As you know I have a macbook intel core duo 60gig drive. Not a lot of hard disk space! Currently have 20 available.

    There two areas on my mac I consider worth backing up. They are photo’s, videos, general family media and my personal work. I include reviews and work I do for friends and family in this category.

    You will note Music is absent. Well until just before Christmas I wasn’t an iTunes user. Since then I have bought probably £25.00 worth of music so it’s something I’m aware I need to consider. If I were to lose data I have the CD’s in a cupboard somewhere. Pain in the proverbial but I don’t listen to whole lot of music more of a podcast kind of guy.

    I have one external drive. A Lacie 500g Quad Interface and she’s a beauty. I’ve had her a few months a generally very happy. Can be a bit noisy but I expected that.

    This has two partitions. 125 gig and another bit roughly 350 gig.

    The 125 gig is my clone partition. Why 125 gig when you only have a 60 gig drive? Well, forward thinking on my part mainly. I am going to be installing a new larger hard drive in the MacBook in the coming months.

    I clone through CCC and run an incremental back up once a week. Yes you can do incremental backups in CCC.

    See TMUP blog for more info here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/2rc5lz

    This drive is in the house and normally in the den or downstairs with the laptop. In terms of theft, probably not very secure. I see this back up more as drive failure protection.

    Photos
    Apart from the clone. I burn DVD’s of my entire photo collection. Currently two DVD’s worth and then duplicate it. One set put away in the house and another set off site. I have literally just done this for 2005-2007. Only problem with that is what do I do with in the time between now and the end of year.

    What I think I might do is use my remaining Mozy FREE entitlement for this in the interim. This depends on how many photos I take this year. To be honest I’m pretty brutal with my photography selections. I know the beauty of digital is that you can shoot, shoot and shoot some more. But I tend to edit them down, down and down some more before importing them into iPhoto. You can also apply this backup strategy to video. I don’t have a video camera bit I do shoot some mini videos on my Lumix snappy camera.

    Once I swap out the 60 gig drive from the MaBook I will also be duplicating the Photo’s and Personal Work on a regular basis to that and keeping it off site.

    Personal Work
    My work folder weighs in at approx 1 gig. Obviously it gets cloned. As well as that I use Mozy as an off-site solution. I will be honest it took me a while to get the 1 gig up on Mozy, but in the end it was worth it. Now all it does is check for updated/new files and then it does it stuff in the background. I use a FREE Mozy account with a 2.5 gig allowance.

    So where does Time Machine factor into this? Well it doesn’t as I am still running Tiger. When I upgrade, probably when the MacBook drive swaps out, I will install Leopard. Time Machine will backup to my 325gig partition on the Lacie.

    I am a .mac user. Have I tried using it as a reliable backup soluiton? Yes. But it repeatedly failed on me. To be honest I gave up trying.

    Phew that’s it. This was intended to be a short reply to yet another great post from Mr. Sparks but it kind of grew. Apologies.

    Darren

    Reply
  17. macwingnut@gmail.com

    Wow, you have a veritable hareem of hard disks.

    You have got me thinking – is my back up strategy fatally flawed or not.

    So this may or may not be of interest to you…

    But, either way I’m going to share it with you.

    We are one mac household. As you know I have a macbook intel core duo 60gig drive. Not a lot of hard disk space! Currently have 20 available.

    There two areas on my mac I consider worth backing up. They are photo’s, videos, general family media and my personal work. I include reviews and work I do for friends and family in this category.

    You will note Music is absent. Well until just before Christmas I wasn’t an iTunes user. Since then I have bought probably £25.00 worth of music so it’s something I’m aware I need to consider. If I were to lose data I have the CD’s in a cupboard somewhere. Pain in the proverbial but I don’t listen to whole lot of music more of a podcast kind of guy.

    I have one external drive. A Lacie 500g Quad Interface and she’s a beauty. I’ve had her a few months a generally very happy. Can be a bit noisy but I expected that.

    This has two partitions. 125 gig and another bit roughly 350 gig.

    The 125 gig is my clone partition. Why 125 gig when you only have a 60 gig drive? Well, forward thinking on my part mainly. I am going to be installing a new larger hard drive in the MacBook in the coming months.

    I clone through CCC and run an incremental back up once a week. Yes you can do incremental backups in CCC.

    See TMUP blog for more info here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/2rc5lz

    This drive is in the house and normally in the den or downstairs with the laptop. In terms of theft, probably not very secure. I see this back up more as drive failure protection.

    Photos
    Apart from the clone. I burn DVD’s of my entire photo collection. Currently two DVD’s worth and then duplicate it. One set put away in the house and another set off site. I have literally just done this for 2005-2007. Only problem with that is what do I do with in the time between now and the end of year.

    What I think I might do is use my remaining Mozy FREE entitlement for this in the interim. This depends on how many photos I take this year. To be honest I’m pretty brutal with my photography selections. I know the beauty of digital is that you can shoot, shoot and shoot some more. But I tend to edit them down, down and down some more before importing them into iPhoto. You can also apply this backup strategy to video. I don’t have a video camera bit I do shoot some mini videos on my Lumix snappy camera.

    Once I swap out the 60 gig drive from the MaBook I will also be duplicating the Photo’s and Personal Work on a regular basis to that and keeping it off site.

    Personal Work
    My work folder weighs in at approx 1 gig. Obviously it gets cloned. As well as that I use Mozy as an off-site solution. I will be honest it took me a while to get the 1 gig up on Mozy, but in the end it was worth it. Now all it does is check for updated/new files and then it does it stuff in the background. I use a FREE Mozy account with a 2.5 gig allowance.

    So where does Time Machine factor into this? Well it doesn’t as I am still running Tiger. When I upgrade, probably when the MacBook drive swaps out, I will install Leopard. Time Machine will backup to my 325gig partition on the Lacie.

    I am a .mac user. Have I tried using it as a reliable backup soluiton? Yes. But it repeatedly failed on me. To be honest I gave up trying.

    Phew that’s it. This was intended to be a short reply to yet another great post from Mr. Sparks but it kind of grew. Apologies.

    Darren

    Reply
  18. macwingnut@gmail.com

    Wow, you have a veritable hareem of hard disks.

    You have got me thinking – is my back up strategy fatally flawed or not.

    So this may or may not be of interest to you…

    But, either way I’m going to share it with you.

    We are one mac household. As you know I have a macbook intel core duo 60gig drive. Not a lot of hard disk space! Currently have 20 available.

    There two areas on my mac I consider worth backing up. They are photo’s, videos, general family media and my personal work. I include reviews and work I do for friends and family in this category.

    You will note Music is absent. Well until just before Christmas I wasn’t an iTunes user. Since then I have bought probably £25.00 worth of music so it’s something I’m aware I need to consider. If I were to lose data I have the CD’s in a cupboard somewhere. Pain in the proverbial but I don’t listen to whole lot of music more of a podcast kind of guy.

    I have one external drive. A Lacie 500g Quad Interface and she’s a beauty. I’ve had her a few months a generally very happy. Can be a bit noisy but I expected that.

    This has two partitions. 125 gig and another bit roughly 350 gig.

    The 125 gig is my clone partition. Why 125 gig when you only have a 60 gig drive? Well, forward thinking on my part mainly. I am going to be installing a new larger hard drive in the MacBook in the coming months.

    I clone through CCC and run an incremental back up once a week. Yes you can do incremental backups in CCC.

    See TMUP blog for more info here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/2rc5lz

    This drive is in the house and normally in the den or downstairs with the laptop. In terms of theft, probably not very secure. I see this back up more as drive failure protection.

    Photos
    Apart from the clone. I burn DVD’s of my entire photo collection. Currently two DVD’s worth and then duplicate it. One set put away in the house and another set off site. I have literally just done this for 2005-2007. Only problem with that is what do I do with in the time between now and the end of year.

    What I think I might do is use my remaining Mozy FREE entitlement for this in the interim. This depends on how many photos I take this year. To be honest I’m pretty brutal with my photography selections. I know the beauty of digital is that you can shoot, shoot and shoot some more. But I tend to edit them down, down and down some more before importing them into iPhoto. You can also apply this backup strategy to video. I don’t have a video camera bit I do shoot some mini videos on my Lumix snappy camera.

    Once I swap out the 60 gig drive from the MaBook I will also be duplicating the Photo’s and Personal Work on a regular basis to that and keeping it off site.

    Personal Work
    My work folder weighs in at approx 1 gig. Obviously it gets cloned. As well as that I use Mozy as an off-site solution. I will be honest it took me a while to get the 1 gig up on Mozy, but in the end it was worth it. Now all it does is check for updated/new files and then it does it stuff in the background. I use a FREE Mozy account with a 2.5 gig allowance.

    So where does Time Machine factor into this? Well it doesn’t as I am still running Tiger. When I upgrade, probably when the MacBook drive swaps out, I will install Leopard. Time Machine will backup to my 325gig partition on the Lacie.

    I am a .mac user. Have I tried using it as a reliable backup soluiton? Yes. But it repeatedly failed on me. To be honest I gave up trying.

    Phew that’s it. This was intended to be a short reply to yet another great post from Mr. Sparks but it kind of grew. Apologies.

    Darren

    Reply
  19. macwingnut@gmail.com

    Wow, you have a veritable hareem of hard disks.

    You have got me thinking – is my back up strategy fatally flawed or not.

    So this may or may not be of interest to you…

    But, either way I’m going to share it with you.

    We are one mac household. As you know I have a macbook intel core duo 60gig drive. Not a lot of hard disk space! Currently have 20 available.

    There two areas on my mac I consider worth backing up. They are photo’s, videos, general family media and my personal work. I include reviews and work I do for friends and family in this category.

    You will note Music is absent. Well until just before Christmas I wasn’t an iTunes user. Since then I have bought probably £25.00 worth of music so it’s something I’m aware I need to consider. If I were to lose data I have the CD’s in a cupboard somewhere. Pain in the proverbial but I don’t listen to whole lot of music more of a podcast kind of guy.

    I have one external drive. A Lacie 500g Quad Interface and she’s a beauty. I’ve had her a few months a generally very happy. Can be a bit noisy but I expected that.

    This has two partitions. 125 gig and another bit roughly 350 gig.

    The 125 gig is my clone partition. Why 125 gig when you only have a 60 gig drive? Well, forward thinking on my part mainly. I am going to be installing a new larger hard drive in the MacBook in the coming months.

    I clone through CCC and run an incremental back up once a week. Yes you can do incremental backups in CCC.

    See TMUP blog for more info here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/2rc5lz

    This drive is in the house and normally in the den or downstairs with the laptop. In terms of theft, probably not very secure. I see this back up more as drive failure protection.

    Photos
    Apart from the clone. I burn DVD’s of my entire photo collection. Currently two DVD’s worth and then duplicate it. One set put away in the house and another set off site. I have literally just done this for 2005-2007. Only problem with that is what do I do with in the time between now and the end of year.

    What I think I might do is use my remaining Mozy FREE entitlement for this in the interim. This depends on how many photos I take this year. To be honest I’m pretty brutal with my photography selections. I know the beauty of digital is that you can shoot, shoot and shoot some more. But I tend to edit them down, down and down some more before importing them into iPhoto. You can also apply this backup strategy to video. I don’t have a video camera bit I do shoot some mini videos on my Lumix snappy camera.

    Once I swap out the 60 gig drive from the MaBook I will also be duplicating the Photo’s and Personal Work on a regular basis to that and keeping it off site.

    Personal Work
    My work folder weighs in at approx 1 gig. Obviously it gets cloned. As well as that I use Mozy as an off-site solution. I will be honest it took me a while to get the 1 gig up on Mozy, but in the end it was worth it. Now all it does is check for updated/new files and then it does it stuff in the background. I use a FREE Mozy account with a 2.5 gig allowance.

    So where does Time Machine factor into this? Well it doesn’t as I am still running Tiger. When I upgrade, probably when the MacBook drive swaps out, I will install Leopard. Time Machine will backup to my 325gig partition on the Lacie.

    I am a .mac user. Have I tried using it as a reliable backup soluiton? Yes. But it repeatedly failed on me. To be honest I gave up trying.

    Phew that’s it. This was intended to be a short reply to yet another great post from Mr. Sparks but it kind of grew. Apologies.

    Darren

    Reply
  20. macwingnut@gmail.com

    Wow, you have a veritable hareem of hard disks.

    You have got me thinking – is my back up strategy fatally flawed or not.

    So this may or may not be of interest to you…

    But, either way I’m going to share it with you.

    We are one mac household. As you know I have a macbook intel core duo 60gig drive. Not a lot of hard disk space! Currently have 20 available.

    There two areas on my mac I consider worth backing up. They are photo’s, videos, general family media and my personal work. I include reviews and work I do for friends and family in this category.

    You will note Music is absent. Well until just before Christmas I wasn’t an iTunes user. Since then I have bought probably £25.00 worth of music so it’s something I’m aware I need to consider. If I were to lose data I have the CD’s in a cupboard somewhere. Pain in the proverbial but I don’t listen to whole lot of music more of a podcast kind of guy.

    I have one external drive. A Lacie 500g Quad Interface and she’s a beauty. I’ve had her a few months a generally very happy. Can be a bit noisy but I expected that.

    This has two partitions. 125 gig and another bit roughly 350 gig.

    The 125 gig is my clone partition. Why 125 gig when you only have a 60 gig drive? Well, forward thinking on my part mainly. I am going to be installing a new larger hard drive in the MacBook in the coming months.

    I clone through CCC and run an incremental back up once a week. Yes you can do incremental backups in CCC.

    See TMUP blog for more info here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/2rc5lz

    This drive is in the house and normally in the den or downstairs with the laptop. In terms of theft, probably not very secure. I see this back up more as drive failure protection.

    Photos
    Apart from the clone. I burn DVD’s of my entire photo collection. Currently two DVD’s worth and then duplicate it. One set put away in the house and another set off site. I have literally just done this for 2005-2007. Only problem with that is what do I do with in the time between now and the end of year.

    What I think I might do is use my remaining Mozy FREE entitlement for this in the interim. This depends on how many photos I take this year. To be honest I’m pretty brutal with my photography selections. I know the beauty of digital is that you can shoot, shoot and shoot some more. But I tend to edit them down, down and down some more before importing them into iPhoto. You can also apply this backup strategy to video. I don’t have a video camera bit I do shoot some mini videos on my Lumix snappy camera.

    Once I swap out the 60 gig drive from the MaBook I will also be duplicating the Photo’s and Personal Work on a regular basis to that and keeping it off site.

    Personal Work
    My work folder weighs in at approx 1 gig. Obviously it gets cloned. As well as that I use Mozy as an off-site solution. I will be honest it took me a while to get the 1 gig up on Mozy, but in the end it was worth it. Now all it does is check for updated/new files and then it does it stuff in the background. I use a FREE Mozy account with a 2.5 gig allowance.

    So where does Time Machine factor into this? Well it doesn’t as I am still running Tiger. When I upgrade, probably when the MacBook drive swaps out, I will install Leopard. Time Machine will backup to my 325gig partition on the Lacie.

    I am a .mac user. Have I tried using it as a reliable backup soluiton? Yes. But it repeatedly failed on me. To be honest I gave up trying.

    Phew that’s it. This was intended to be a short reply to yet another great post from Mr. Sparks but it kind of grew. Apologies.

    Darren

    Reply

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