Backup Strategy Part 1: Automate It!


Backup Strategy Part 1

Back Your Shit Up!!!!! It’s too easy not too. With tools like Time Machine and Drobo that make it so easy to back everything up. Why wait? You know you need to right? Hard drives eventually die. It’s happened to me twice and it WILL happen to you. Just, make sure you have a backup system in place for when it does. Today, I tell you about my backup strategy and how I protect my most valuable work and memories.

What would happen to you if you lost everything on your hard drive right now? Family photos, client’s work, music, personal projects, financial statements, and home movies ALL GONE. Think about it…

Stay tuned for tomorrow when I tell you about my most recent hard drive crash and how Drobo and Time Machine got me back working in less than 5 hours.

I bought my drobo on amazon with four of these drives


Submit a comment
  • Have you thought about using an online storage service ? Like dropbox. A tape backup seems that it could have the same problem as using an external firewire drive. Forgetting to do tape backups, letting them sit around for a while before you move them out of your house etc. Just a thought.

    • I have been thinking of using Carbonite. What I may need to do is have an Archived section that is stored offsite with another drobo or something, and then only sync new files to Carbonite? I’m rethinking this tape drive thing…

    • I’m always skeptical when anyone says, “unlimited”. I have 4 terabytes, will they take that? Hmmmm…

  • Happened to me recently… Snow Leopard just started erasing data for no reason… nasty little bug! Come on Apple put your shit together! Luckily I had TM backup on an external 2TB WDBook Drive so I was saved. Moral of the story is as Nick said BACK YOUR SHIT UP!

  • Hi Nick,

    One thing i want to mention and that i teach to my design students is to have what i call a “3×2” backup strategy. This means that every single file is on 3 different pieces of media and in at least 2 geographical locations. We do this in our studio with a combination of internal drives using Time Machine, and external drives using SuperDuper for incremental backups so it takes basically no extra time other than a trip to the bank (which we are usually at weekly anyway) to swap out a few firewire drives.

    as far as i am concerned, until a file is “3×2” it is not really backed up. a slight inconvenience of a 5 minute bank visit makes me sleep very well at night.

    i am curious if you have found the Drobo to be fast and reliable – I keep debating getting one.

    • in my experience Drobos are insanely slow.. and i’ve had issues with mine when it comes to moving large amounts of data.

      that being said, i think it’s perfect for something like time machine, or for photos. I do video work, and for that i don’t think it’s ideal..

    • Yeah, the drobo isn’t fast, but it’s reliable. If you want both, you can look at the Drobo Pro.

    • I have a thecus n5200br … its pretty fast. I did the research for a while on relatively cheap NAS solutions, and the Thecus turned out to the best bang for the buck. Although the one thing it doesnt support just yet (at least the model i have) is Time Machine. I have a seperate Time Machine that does just my system.

  • Hey,
    great post. I wanted to share what I am using. I got myself a HP Media Smart. It runs on Windows Home Server which includes Time Machine Backup for Apple so if you work in a mixed OS environment, you’re set with one machine. you can also put 4 drives in there and add extra ones externally. And you can back up the whole thing to Amazon S3, which I am not using, since my data is not super important. I am using the Server, which is also great for itunes streaming, for a few months now without any problem. It backs up once a day and you can go back as far as you set it up to.
    And no, I do not work for MS or HP – I just love the thing.

  • Super duper is great but NEVER takes just five minutes to do an incremental backup. I also use chronology sync for folders and dropbox which is possibly the best free ap there is

  • 2 laptops (Windows) at home are backed up to a Mac Mini with an external 1TB drive. A 500GB drive comes home with me once a week and I use Super Duper to copy over the important stuff. Otherwise the 500GB is at work in my drawer for offsite backup.

  • oh that Backblaze looks pretty darn good except it is RAID backed up once and not redundant like Amazon’s cloud. It won’t be long, however… I’d pay twice the money if Backblaze had it backed up in two separate locations.

  • It seems that Backblaze doesn’t back up files over 4GB. I myself do the 3×2 thing, Time Machine backs up on a external HD which I copy once every month / 2 months to another drive I take home. I would like to have a drobo, but then what, buy another drobo to backup the drobo?

  • i’ve set up an LTO4 system at one of the places i work, and did a quick write up on how to set it up for about $3500.

    LTO4 is pretty quick, and works well. $50 for 800gb (i don’t compress, scares me, takes longer) of backup is pretty awesome.. a little steep on the initial investment, but it’s the best way i know of..

    also, if you’re interested: 7TB Raid 5 for around $2000

    backblaze sounds pretty awesome too.

  • I do the 3×2 also, or at least 3×1 because I do not have an offside backup. I also backup into USB Pen Drives, I do it for important small projects like Ae projects whit their respective footage, or beloved photos or music. I know its not the ideal solution but for really important data is worth it. Pen Drives are very reliable and lasting. Once I left one in my pants and put them on the washing machine and nothing happened to the data, still worked perfectly.

  • Off site backup? I use Carbonite…

    Good price… constantly saves in the background… but, will not save external HD…even keeps older files deleted for up to 3 months.

    A minor down side to Carbonite (but, easily fixed)… is that you have to manually tell it to upload certain video file formats. And, for some reason you need to verify certain video file uploads (only video file formats). But, verifying uploads is easy since the program color codes and marks the folder files as partial or fully uploaded. I am not sure carbonite works for any OS but windows… but, I would recommned this easy backup by uploading software and service.

    Tape works… but requires constant backup to keep current, maintanence of backup drives and movement to offsite storage… Basically… in a lot of ways… tape has the same problems as manually backing up a HD but with tape having more permanence as a data storage source.

    IMO, Uploading of drive data is the best option since it has the permanance of tape with the constance backgroup uploading making it more like your Drobo… but, be aware it took me months to get my first backup uploaded to Carbonite’s off site storage (about 350Gs+)… Plus, it can take a long time to down load if you need ALL the data restored. However, it has been my experience is that you typically only need a file or two that was accidently deleted.

    Side note: I use a dual raid 0 e-sata drives with 2 15k Fujitsu 300G drive for each raid 0 setup for both my OS drive and my render drive (total 4 drives made up of 2×2 raid 0 setup). SIGNIFICANT speed is gained with this dual raid setup of really fast HD’s. BTW, I use windows… I believe they make a Mac version of the 15000rpm e-sata drives. Back up is similar, but you can not do a ghost drive setup of a raid0 setup.

  • 1. What do use on the “Drobo” so “TimeMachine” does not fill it all up – over time?

    2. After setting my “Drobo” up – an using it for a while. Can I set somewhere that it should see the total capacity as a 16GB drive? I think it only see’s mine as 4GB – not good in the long run?

    • Just keep an eye on your backup folder on the Drobo and make sure it doesn’t get to full. Add drives as needed.

      As for the second part, I’m afraid the only way to fix that is to re-format your drobo. If not, it will just make another 4TB partition as you add more drives.

  • Hey Nick,
    Quick question about the time machine backup process. I’m working off an imac at home but due to it’s limited space, almost everything is on an external gdrive. Can time machine back up both the computer and the external? Also, I do most of my work on a laptop when I’m out of the house. Do you know of anyway to get both machines sync’ed and backed up? Thanks

    • Yeah, Time Machine can back up external drives as well. You can add or subtract drives from being backed up. I would sync the machines, but then back them up separately, also using TIme Machine.

  • A nice way i do the backups and store in my office i use netgear NV+ and have one the same at home. the neat thing with that is that they link up to each other and perform backups more constantly. So the one at the office uploads its files to the one I have at home. They also provide there own in the cloud backup. Also I can always connect to my netgear wherever I am and with encryption so my Data is safe. Also it can set up as a time machine disk witch is pretty neat. Thats more of the constant backup. For the more final backup We uses HD’s and when this constant backup gets full we empty the old projects on two identical hard drives that get saved in a bank deposit box and one at a colleges location. So far no accidents and it working perfect.

  • Sorry but missed the detail that we had upgraded to the netgear ReadyNAS NVX and by having two of these I can do the automated offsite backups.

  • I have a question about you set-up:

    I understand you keep the internal drive clean with only the essential apps etc.

    Now when it comes to your media RAID is that part of the Drobo or a seperate drive all together? Also what do you have the RAID drive built as mirrored, striped, 1-5 ?

    • My Media drive is two 500GB drives set to RAID 0. This gives me a terabyte that is almost twice as fast as a typical drive. It works really great for large files like video. Just make sure you definitely back up a RAID 0 because if either disk fails, you loose everything!

    • What brand do you use for those media drives? And how did you set them up properly etc? Any future tutorials on that 😛

      I just ask because my home set back up system needs some serious attention!

    • Sure thing. The RAID is set up with Disk Utility. I think that they are Seagate drives. Get ones with a large Cache. I’ll try to throw up a tutorial for sure.

  • Time Machine + Mozy ( It is 3×2.

    TM for fast recovery in case of a hard disk crash. I back up everything on my Macbook. A friend got her laptop and backup hard drive stolen. An offsite backup is required.

    I have Mozy in case of theft or fire. It’s for files I created, mainly my photos, documents and code. It’s like Backblaze and owned by EMC, $5/month for unlimited. It runs in the background only uploading new or changed files. Files I can get from somewhere else are excluded. It takes a lot of time to upload the data the first time.

    Don’t know about big files. Mozy says “truly unlimited backup for your home computer with no size restrictions.” So even 4TB should work. Although it might be hell to restore.

Comments are closed.