Yeehaw! Hard drives and back-up strategies! Woo hoo! Alright, maybe I’m the only one that gets hot and bothered about a disk spinning at 7200 rpm mere nanometers from a read/write head.
I thought I’d throw out a quick post detailing my back-up strategies and what I’ve changed since my recent near tragedy with my laptop drive dying. I had a good back-up and archiving procedure in place before I had any trouble with the MacBook Pro but having gone through the hassle of having to rebuild my system I’ve taken the “opportunity” to iron out any kinks.
Previously, I had Apple’s Time Machine running on an external 1TB USB drive and my iTunes library on another external USB. That worked great, but with the USB drives plugged in I had trouble getting them both to mount sometimes and I had to dismount one in order to plug in my card reader or iPod. And it took forever to restore my system from Time Machine after the “incident”. Also, my iTunes library was getting too big for it’s britches. This adds up to a couple of trips to Costco and Best Buy. I’m going to try not to buy from Tiger Direct or Canada Computers anymore. Their service is abysmal and trying to get any help from them when things go wrong is an exercise in futility.
So now my iTunes Library sits on a Western Digital My Book FireWire 400 drive with ample room to grow, and Time Machine is running on a Western Digital My Book Studio FireWire 800 drive. Geeks everywhere achieved ecstasy just then. The benefit here is that now I can connect USB devices without having to worry about whether or not my backups are going to happen. The FireWire connection is always fast and solid as heck.
I’m using Time Machine to keep my back up up to date as I work at home and I’m using Shirt Pocket’s SuperDuper! software to keep my off-site back up current. I keep another WD My Book FireWire 400 drive at work and a couple of times a week I bring my laptop with me and update the off-site back-up.
This strategy gives me redundancy in a couple of ways (that’s a good thing when you’re talking about data). First, by having my data in two locations separated by a fair distance (90 km) I’m “safe” from losing my data in a natural disaster or due to burglary or more likely in my case blunder. Say I accidentally knock my laptop off the desk, my back-up is for all intents tied to it via the cable. They could very easily both be damaged beyond repair by a drop like that (the skeptics among you are pointing out the sudden impact sensors and other doodads built into today’s drives – I’ll let you guys test that theory and I’ll stick with my paranoia, thanks).
Also, by using 2 software programs I’ve protected myself from a bug in the software keeping my back-up from running. I have chosen two of the industry leading back-up programs so I’m not really that worried, but still, better safe than yadda, yadda.
I’m using the same brand of drive in both locations but they are 2 different models and capacities, purchased at different times. This protects me from possibly getting two lemon drives from the same bad batch. Even though having two drives go down at the same time is really, REALLY not likely to happen, it has happened, to us at work. We had a RAID 5 setup in which a second drive died before we could replace the first. In non-geek, we got boned… hard. We should have had a spare drive on hand to swap in as soon as the first drive died, but we didn’t and we had to wait for one to get shipped to us.
Anyways, the take home message is that you shouldn’t feel safe until you have your data on 3 different drives in 2 locations. You should make it fast and easy for this to happen otherwise it won’t. If you’re running a Mac, Time Machine is built in (Leopard and later) and free and a couple of drives will set you back very little. So get on it.