After reading Shawn Blanc’s and Gabe Weatherhead’s posts about their respective backup systems, I decided to follow suit and publish my personal backup strategy. It’s not meant as a recommendation, it’s just the way I happen to do things. You’ll have to decide for yourself how much security you need or want.
I have multiple drives in my Mac Pro and one of them is a dedicated backup drive. I backup my main 512 GB SSD drive to a 1 TB spinning-disk drive daily using SuperDuper!. It’s a full bootable backup minus some of the cruft like temporary files and my downloads folder. The backup runs automatically every evening at 9:30 PM.
I don’t have my media files on my main system SSD but rather on a separate 4 TB drive. I backup that drive to two 2 TB drives I stick into an eSATA dock. Since media files are non-essential to me, I run the backup manually on a “whenever I remember to do it” schedule.
About once a month I backup the SSD to one of two (TrueCrypt-) encrypted 1TB drives I store in turn in a safety deposit box. So, if my house burns down or I get robbed, I’ll still have at worst a 30-day old backup. Better than nothing.
Whenever I leave the house for more than an hour or two, I take along an encrypted 2.5-inch 1 TB USB drive that has a full bootable backup of the SSD. I update the backup on this drive whenever I know I’ll be gone for half a day or more.
What, No Cloud?
Many people these days use online backup services for their offsite backup needs. I’ve chosen to use the aforementioned safety deposit box for my offsite backup. It costs about as much as most online backup services and I just feel more comfortable knowing where my backup is. Call me paranoid, but I don’t trust the Cloud, not even for encrypted data. What’s more, in the event I need to restore from a backup, it’s easier to pop a backup drive into my eSATA dock than it is to restore from an online backup (it’s also a lot faster).
Although my backup system might seem quite involved to regular people (read: non-geeks), it’s actually pretty simple. I don’t really think about it much anymore because it’s become second nature. You might wonder why I don’t just use Time Machine. I used to use it but it repeatedly got confused and threw errors during a backup and the only way to resolve this was to do a complete backup from scratch. For a system that’s supposed to give you a history of all the changes to your files, that’s pretty ridiculous. So I just disabled it and have been doing my backups old-school ever since.
As always, YMMV. Figure out what your data is worth to you. A good way to do this is to pretend all your data on your computer(s) was gone, without a way to get it back. If that makes your skin crawl, it’s time to set up a good backup system. And whether it’s a safety deposit box, your parents’ house or online: One of your backups should be outside of your home.
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