BackUp Strategy

I have been mulling over the ‘best’ backup strategy now that we have Time Machine and really cheap storage to hand. I have a sneaky feeling that a lot of people will have thought that Time Machine would be the answer to all their problems, and on the surface I can see how that would be the case. It would certainly be attractive if that were so!

So far I have experienced the good and the bad of Time Machine. Having backed the Mac Pro up the first time I ran Time Machine and when I had to do a fresh install of Leopard I used Time Machine to restore the data and it was perfect. On the other hand having set Time Machine to back up my 250GB System drive, I found that it ran out of space very quickly.

So far this is where I have got to with my latest ‘plan’.

My Mac Pro has four drives in it:

  • 250GB System drive for all my applications and documents and music
  • 500GB drive for all my recorded Films
  • 500GB drive for all my Photos
  • 500GB drive for all my home made Video

Now don’t get me wrong – in no way are the Photos and Video drives anywhere near full, but the Film one is getting close and I have films stored on both the iMac and Mac mini (more on that later). The set up above is very much one for the future as I anticipate creating a lot of digital data with Almerimar Life and my photography.

I have said before that I wouldn’t be bothering to back up recorded films as anything that I really wanted to keep I would have on a DVD and I am not really changing that theory, although I am modifying it a bit as I now have so much storage – did I mention I had just bought a 1TB drive ? – that I sort of can to some extent without wasting too much space.

Basically I am spliiting my back up stratgey into two elements:

– Time Machine
– Super Duper.

That is right. I have been a big fan of Super Duper for a long time now, and I see no reason to discard it now. My intention is to partition the 1TB into the following:

  • System BackUp 250GB
  • Video BackUp 500GB
  • Films BackUp 500GB
  • Photo BackUp 500GB
  • Temporary Space 250GB

First off I am going to ensure that all the Films that I want to ensure that I don’t lose are on the 500GB drive on the Mac Pro. This will entail some movement from the iMac and the Mac mini, but that is a one off task, so long as I leave enough room on the 500GB drive for future ‘must save’ Films.

I am then going to use Super Duper as I currently do i.e. twice a week, for the System, Film, Movies and Photo drives – a big task initially but then smart update is a breeze. I will set these to be scheduled backups so that I don’t have to think about them.

With Time Machine I will just back uo the documents and files off the System drive onto a separate 300GB drive, so that I can forget about that for a while before having to create more space on the drive.

The Mac mini I wont bother with as it only stores Films on either its hard drive or the 300GB LaCie drive.

The iMac I will pretty much do the same as the Mac Pro. It has a 250GB drive connected to a 280GB external, so I will partition the external into 150GB and 80GB. The 150GB I will use to back up via Super Duper twice a week, the 150GB System drive, and the 80GB I will use for Time Machine. The 100GB partition is just for Films and as they are all ones that I don’t mind if we lose I am not backing them up.

The ‘spare’ 250GB on the 1TB I will use to back up the Mac Book before I travel etc, and as a large WIP drive.

One final thing – all my RAW photo files get copied to DVD before I do any editing on them or delete them off the SD card (or I make a second temporary back up to hard drive if I don’t have enough to fill a DVD) as well so I always have a secondary back up of them.

So that is my plan. Really Time Machine is only an addition to a pretty comprehensive strategy that I already had, not a replacement.

So, how could I improve on this? What do you guys do?

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  1. I make sure I update my clone of my system with Super Duper regularly, at least once a week or before major system updates that feedback suggests might be flaky, or before I am about to do something potentially stupid with my machine.

    Then I have offsite DVD backups of photos, music, videos and documents in non-proprietary forms (ie no Backup for me, straight burns to DVD). There is probably an easier way to do this incrementally with rsync etc but I haven’t got too intense with it.

    Then I have a network backup on my office server of all my documents. I used to do this with Deja Vu but haven’t reinstalled this yet.

    Now I have a Time Machine backup running on my main external hard drive, a 250Gig LaCie, which is updated when I get home and plug in every evening.

    It’s slightly disorganised but generally speaking I have multiple backups of everything important on different mediums in different places with some redundancy in the system.

    Interesting to hear what other people do…

    Also really really waiting for a Leopard-ready version of Super Duper so I can get a clone of my shiny new install before I mess it up… 😉

  2. My backup strategy is a mess. Hardly a strategy really. I’d hoped to use the erase & install of Leopard as a way of having a fresh start. I did a backup of all our user folders on the family iMac on the NAS drive, and also backed up my powerbook on another drive. I use time machine on the powerbook when I hook it up to the external drive every few days, and have a 160 Gb G-Tech mini to store specific material.

    I like your use of dedicated drives for different media Chris. I’d thought of getting a 1Tb drive to store music, I may get another for films.

    How do you rip your dvds? Mac the Ripper? Handbrake? Do you do a full rip or just the feature?

  3. I use Handbrake. It is very good.

    I usually just grab the main feature VOB, but honestly while I don’t have a desktop Mac I don’t want to do much ripping, my PowerBook is just too slow. If I know I am going to be travelling I will rip a few episodes of a series the night before…

    I think and hope that in January or at least next year we will see dual-drive MacBook Pro’s, maybe with one SSD and one conventional, otherwise Time Machine doesn’t make a lot of sense for mobile users. Just a sneaky suspicion.

  4. Time Machine all the way. Except for Mail and Aperture. I let TM not only back up my mail but also use MailSteward, and I have 2 vaults for Aperture on different hard drives.

  5. Currently follow something similar to what has been described:
    1. Full bootable clone via Super Duper – every Sunday night – 120GB external USB2
    2. Time Machine plugged on 90% of the day – 120GB Firewire
    3. Mail Steward archive of email – every Sunday night.
    4. Sites folder – every Sunday night – 80GB external USB2.

    What I haven’t thought about is archiving/cataloguing iPhoto to DVD.
    Also need a larger external for time machine as internal is 100GB and 120GB external doesn’t allow for long term expansion.

  6. The sheer horror of the thought of losing all my photos, of my travels, my children growing up, my wedding etc prompted me recently to burn them to DVD and keep them in a separate location in case of fire etc…

    A much lesser, but still significant dread was the thought of having to re-rip and rate, tag and add album art to thousands upon thousands of music tracks…hence I availed myself of iTunes rather good disk-spanning built-in backup.

    A slight pain to do, but now I feel happy that my irreplaceable photos are safe.

  7. Time machine seems a bit overkill for my needs,(and my lack of available hard drives!) so for now at least I plan to continue with my original strategy.

    For my iBook, a clone backup with Super Duper once a week (Currently on hold until SD gets a Leopard update)

    For my Mac Mini, a weekly backup of my home folder to a portable Firewire drive using Carbon Copy Cloner.

  8. Have just looked at my maths – would need a 2TB external to make the above work!!!!

    Needless to say that isn’t what I will be doing!!!

    I have 1.75 TB of internal drive and 1.3 TB of external space so a bit of a rethink is necessary.

    Is easy enough (and saves time) to drop the Movies back up, and as the photos, videos and movies aren’t that full yet I am going to split the 1TB into 4 x 250GB and use for System, Video, Photo and WIP

  9. Picked up a 160GB Firewire drive at the apple store yesterday for £80 to add in to the mix. Thinking of creating a media drive for iPhoto libraries, iTunes libraries and iMovie projects (anyone here tried running iMovie projects/editing from a firewire drive rather than the internal??). Hope to clear disk space on the laptop.

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