Celebrating "World Backup Day"

I hear today is “World Backup Day.” I’m not sure if that’s an officially sanctioned holiday, or just one of those holidays that was made up by backup companies to sell software. But whatever, I’m on board. There are two types of drives in this world those that have died and those that will. It’s only a matter of time and I am still shocked by the number of people I meet who are not running backups regularly. If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably not that person. But you know that person. So take this occasion to share the backup love. I’ve spoken about my backup strategy at length on a couple of Mac Power Users shows including Episode 008 Backup! and [Episode 043 Back to Backup (Live from Macworld 2011)](MPU 043: Back to Backup (Live from Macworld 2011)). My strategies have changed and evolved a bit over the years but in general I believe a good backup strategy must have a few components:

  1. It must be automatic - I’m paranoid about backups and even I won’t remember to run backups on a regular basis. Don’t try, just find something that will reliably automate itself and set it and forget it.
  2. It must be redundant - One backup is not a backup. Sure, it’s better than nothing, but if one of your drives die, you no longer have a backup. Personally, I like having two different types of backups so perhaps make one an incremental and one a clone or image file.
  3. A copy must be off site - When really bad stuff happens, it happens. Theft, power surge, lightening, whatever. If your backup and your computer are kept together you’re likely to lose both.
  4. Your backups must be tested regularly - remember your backups can fail too. If you don’t test them regularly you won’t know until it’s too late. I know more than one person who has needed the backup only to find that drive has died or is otherwise unreliable. So make sure you fire up those backups and test them regularly. In fact, why don’t you go do that now?

What’s my current backup strategy? Going into detail would take more room than I have in this blog post, but in a nutshell:

  1. Time Machine Backups to a Time Capsule - This provides incremental backups. I use Time Machine Editor to adjust the frequency so they only run every 4 hours rather than every hour so my CPU doesn’t take the hit. I also exclude a few frequently changing folders like my Podcasts folder in iTunes.
  2. Clone backups to a local hard drive - I use a piece of software called SuperDuper! and love it. The paid version gives you the option to schedule backups and use “smart backups” which take a fraction of the time. I have SuperDuper! set to kick off every evening at a time when my Mac is likely to be on and a nightly smart update clone takes less than 20 minutes.
  3. Archived files are saved to a Drobo FS - This is redundant in and of itself because of the way the Drobo works it can survive a single hard drive failure but even archived files need a second layer of protection and that comes with…
  4. CrashPlan+ - I’ve tried several off site backup solutions but this is the one I like best. I have all the non-system files on my Mac set to backup to CrashPlan’s cloud and because CrashPlan will support external drives I also backup all the files on my Drobo for additional redundancy. I love CrashPlan because it actually supports unlimited backups - which is good because I have over a terabyte of data up there.
  5. Portable Hard Drive for Travel - Because bandwidth is iffy when traveling and I’m going to be away from my Time Capsule and regular clone drives I also have a portable drive that’s the same size as my Mac’s internal drive that I use for travel. I keep this drive encrypted using DiskUtility for security and then have SuperDuper! scheduled so whenever this drive is plugged in it will automatically kick off a smart copy.