My current backup strategy

You don’t understand that having backups of important data is a good idea before you’ve missed something very important. I have twenty years of experience with hard drives and learned very early that backups are a very good idea.

So people keeps asking me how I administrate my data. Now here’s the quick story:

1. Apple Time Machine
It does a constant backup of my system drive. With several versions and very easy restore. It has saved me a couple of times already.

2. Mirrored RAID on the media server
I have a couple of large disks with my video, audio and images. Stuff that I don’t want to loose. These disks are configured as something that’s called RAID 1. Or in plain english: each disk is actually two disks. On the computer they show up as one, but everything that is stored on them is actually stored on two disks. See the four disks in the image above? It’s not four terrabytes of data. It’s two. Giving instant backup. If one drive fails I simply replace it and the system will rebuild it. To do this you can use the built in RAID support in Mac OSX, but that is lame, so I use SoftRaid. And yes, when I buy a new external hard drive I buy two. Meaning twice the security and twice the price.

The RAID system has also saved me a couple of times. It’s not a question of “if” a drive fails. It’s “when”.

3. Portable hard drive
I also want an off site backup of my most important files. A backup that will survive burglary or a fire in my home. This is mainly for my images. For that I have a two layer system. First I have a drive that I fill up and keep in a drawer at work.

4. Network based backup
Of course I don’t bother to bring the portable disk back and forth very often, so if everything fails at home I would probably loose months of images. That’s why I have an extra layer of remote backup for the last year of data. A system that immediately starts uploading files to a remote server as I add images and important files. There are several systems for this. Back in the days when I used Windows I relied on Carbonite. Another good solution is Mozy. But I use JungleDisk. Because I trust Amazon and their encryption. And because it gives me a virtual drive that lets me access my files at all times from any computer.

That’s it. Time Machine. RAID1. Portable disk and JungleDisk. Share your backup strategy and fire away with questions in the comments.


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