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Posts Tagged with “setup”

A Backup System

backup-setup.jpg

For the last 6 years or so, my backup setup con­sisted of one unre­li­able 120 GB drive that I would man­u­ally update when­ever I remem­ber to do so. That’s pretty much a pathetic way to go about it and I’ve been extremely lucky to not have had a cat­a­strophic drive failure.

I’ve been mean­ing to get seri­ous about my file man­age­ment, but I never did any­thing about it. That’s until I read Frank Chimero’s insight­ful arti­cle about his setup and how he deals with file man­age­ment. It moti­vated me to finally put a sys­tem together to pro­tect my impor­tant files, and to write this arti­cle detail­ing my cur­rent setup. I fig­ured that it can’t hurt to have more infor­ma­tion avail­able on the sub­ject for those who are interested.

The Equip­ment

Right away, I knew that my lame 120 GB drive wouldn’t make a good base for my setup. The key fac­tor in any good backup sys­tem is redun­dancy. The more copies you have of your data, the safer you are. I first looked into RAID 1 sys­tems. A RAID 1 sys­tem is essen­tially made up of two dri­ves, one drive is where you backup your data, and the other drive is used to mir­ror that drive, cre­at­ing a backup of your backup. The ben­e­fit of a RAID 1 is that it all hap­pens on the fly, so when data is stored to the first drive, it’s instantly mir­rored to the sec­ond drive. I found a few options that might work, but they were either too expen­sive or noisy.

I then looked into sin­gle hard dri­ves, which had to be quiet and large enough to store all of my data. To cre­ate redun­dancy I knew that I’d needed two sep­a­rate dri­ves. After a few days of research­ing and ask­ing on Twit­ter, I pur­chased two Lacie Quadra 1 TB dri­ves. They’re silent, afford­able, offer four con­nec­tion inter­faces and look damn sexy.

To build on the setup, I also signed up for Back­blaze, an online file backup ser­vice that’s really cheap and easy to use. The ser­vice con­stantly checks your machine and exter­nal dri­ves to see if any­thing has changed and needs a backup. It all hap­pens in the back­ground, so you just set it up and never think about it again. The first backup does take a few days, though, depend­ing on the amount of data you’re stor­ing. They have a free 15 trial, which is a great way to test it out.

I also pur­chased SuperDuper, an inex­pen­sive desk­top app that allows you to com­pletely clone your machine, cre­at­ing a bootable copy. You can even sched­ule back­ups, which is great.

Finally, the sys­tem also makes use of Drop­box and Apple’s iDisk. More details below on how I use these two services.

The Setup

I put together this dia­gram to help visu­al­ize my setup. Here’s how it works:

All of my data is kept on my iMac’s inter­nal drive. Cur­rent and archived work files, impor­tant doc­u­ments like my resume, and my Aper­ture Library Backup, live in my Drop­box folder. I do this to cre­ate more redun­dancy for my most impor­tant data.

I’ve kept my old 120 GB drive and use it to store really old work, videos, pic­tures and my iPhoto Library. This is not pre­cious data.

Every other day I have SuperDuper clone my iMac to one of my Lacie 1 TB dri­ves, lets call this one Drive A. Imme­di­ately after that is done I have SuperDuper clone Drive A to my other Lacie 1 TB drive, let’s call this one Drive B. Once a month SuperDuper clones my 120 GB drive to Drive B. I only do it once a week because the data on that drive won’t change that often. All of the SuperDuper back­ups are set to Smart Update. It’s a great fea­ture that only copies files and fold­ers that are new or have changed. This con­sid­er­ably speeds up the process after the ini­tial backup.

Once a week the cur­rent work folder in Drop­box, my Address Book and iCal data­bases, Safari set­tings, key­chain, fonts and cur­rent pho­tos are copied to iDisk using Apple’s Backup app.

For extra secu­rity, I’ve setup Back­blaze to con­stantly backup my iMac’s inter­nal drive, which includes my Drop­box local folder, and the 120 GB drive.

Dur­ing all this I have Time Machine con­stantly backing-up to Drive B.

This setup cre­ates 6 copies of my vital data:

 – Inter­nal iMac Drive
 – Exter­nal Drive A
 – Exter­nal Drive B
 – Drop­box
 – iDisk
 – Back­blaze

and 3 copies of my unim­por­tant data:

 – Exter­nal 120 GB Drive
 – Exter­nal Drive B
 – Back­blaze

This is a good amount of redun­dancy and will pro­vided a good level of secu­rity and piece of mind. I’ll prob­a­bly expand on this in the future. Those Lacie dri­ves are cheap, so why not get another one to clone one of the other dri­ves. Even­tu­ally, I want to have an off-site drive, just for added security.

When I was first looked into backup sys­tems, I had no idea where to begin. Hope­fully this arti­cle has been help­ful to those who are still unsure on how to pro­ceed. I also sug­gest read­ing this arti­cle by John Gru­ber for more infor­ma­tion on the subject.