My Backup Strategy (2018 Update)

I last wrote about my backup strategy in July 2015, and a lot has changed, so I thought it was time to update things.

This is the part where I copy and paste from that 2015 blog post:

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I shouldn’t have to preach the importance of a good backup system, but there are some key tenants that should be part of any approach:

  1. Be redundant. Having a single backup is good, but what happens if it gets killed by the same power outage that cooks your computer.
  2. Be easy to manage. Time Machine is popular because it’s easy to setup and doesn’t need on-going care. Anything past the built-in backup will take more work, but it’s good to minimize it.
  3. Be testable. Every once in a while, restore data from a backup to make sure everything’s going well. This doesn’t have to be some big, drawn out thing. For me, a small recovery can put my mind at ease every quarter or so.
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My hardware setup is radically different from what it was in 2015. While I still have a Mac mini, it is now the server, hosting a Drobo 5D stuffed with 4 TB hard drives for a total of 17 TB or so of storage. Moving away from the Synology isn’t that juicy of a story. It had a hardware failure and I moved on.

Like before, this large pool of hard drive space houses the family iTunes library, past work projects and the mountain of nerdy stuff I’ve gleaned from the Internet over the years.

The beauty of a Thunderbolt RAID is that I can manage it with the Mac mini, which sees it as a huge external hard drive. This means I can run Backblaze on the Mac and have it protect everything on the Drobo:

In addition to Backblaze I use Carbon Copy Cloner to backup the data on the Drobo onto a series of external USB drives for off-site storage. The data set is shared across multiple drives, but CCC makes it easy enough to manage:

I moved to CCC from SuperDuper! because Carbon Copy Cloner feels a lot better supported at this point, and it makes dealing multiple tasks like this much easier.

My iMac Pro and MacBook Pro are much simpler. Almost all the data on them is in Dropbox, outside of the iTunes and Photos libraries and any active Logic or Final Cut projects. Even so, both of these machines have dedicated Time Machine drives, Backblaze accounts and off-site USB drives updated with Carbon Copy Cloner a couple of times a month.