lets talk "backup strategy"

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by shecky, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    as i get more and more design work i am getting more and more worried about loosing data. i am really in need of a expert opinion on backup strategies as what i am doing now just does not feel as secure as it should be. as far as my particular situation goes (but hopefully this will be helpful to a lot of people):

    -hardware: new C2D MBP with FW800 + FW400, one LaCie 120GB and one LaCie 250GB externals

    -data: lots of large folders with tons of smaller (500MB maximum usually) files, mostly InDesign documents, but a good chunk of motion docs (AfterEffects + FCP) files as well as some source DV footage (which can get big). my "current" files (as in what i am literally working on more or less daily) are around 40GB of stuff (this varies), but i have probably 300GB of data that i would like to be "accessible" via hard drive as opposed to slower reading DVD. in total i have close to 3/4 of a TB of data that is mostly on DVD's (a couple of hundred DVD's) and a couple of LaCie external drives.

    -current backup: i use a registered copy of SuperDuper! to do a daily clone of my machine to one of the LaCie drives. another lacie drive has about 200GB of the "accessible" files i need, everything else gets put onto DVD whenever the project is over. one set of DVD's stays in my studio, and another set of DVD's goes offsite.

    -the problem: writing to DVD's takes forever so i do not do it nearly as often as i should. i feel like i should have some redundancy to my data other than DVD's. often one folder (one project) takes up more than 1 DVD so i worry about getting half my stuff lost in the shuffle. i am also concerned about the stability of DVD media over the years. also worried about the reliability of the LaCie drives (no problems yet) so i would probably go with something from OWC.

    obviously i will invest some money in a system that works, but before i go buy a couple of more externals i wanted to get some advice on a smart way to backup my stuff.

  2. w0ngbr4d macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2006
    Findlay, OH
    This is what I would do:

    Daily Clone
    I would alternate between 2 drives, one labeled Mon, Wed, Fri, the other Tues, Thurs. At some point you would want to switch them so the one that does 3 day duty becomes the 2 day and vice versa. This way you can go "back in time" if you need a previous version of a file. Time Machine in leopard will do this also, but I don't know how it will work with big files.

    If your 300 GB of data you want accessible won't grow in size, just put it on an external drive. If this data is critical, I would back it up to another location, either DVD (at 60 + of them) or another external drive. Either way I would store it with the offsite backups to be safe.

    Keep your working files on your laptop. The working files will be backed up with the daily clone.

    I read somewhere that burned media outlasts pressed store bought media. Something to do with oxidation of the metal on the pressed disc. So if they are good quality burnable DVDs, and they are stored properly, they should last a long time.

    If you want something to supplement your archival DVD backups, you could consider a tape drive.


    The drive is $1,700 and 160 GB (compressed I think) tapes are $80. I only throw this out there because where I work we have a tape library with TB of data archived. This is an extreme though. I'm not too sure if this can be used directly in Finder or if you have to use the Retrospect software included with the drive.

    Just remember, hard drives do fail. They are mechanical, and it happens. I would not depend on the SMART feature either. If you listen to the latest Security Now podcast from twit.tv you'll see what I mean.

    I am by no means an expert, just throwing some ideas around.

  3. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    Personally I'd be concerned about DVDs - a work colleague of mine just tried to retrieve some data from a set of 3-year-old DVDs (they were good-quality blanks) and about 33% of them were unreadable.

    Why not buy a gigabit-LAN network attached storage device with 1-1.5 terabytes of space and keep all your stuff on that? If you buy a unit with a RAID5 array you are protected against failure of a single drive in the array - just slot in a new one if one fails. You could keep using your current externals for your daily clones (or Time Machine when it comes out), keep all the really massive project files on the NAS and if you want more security back up the NAS to another USB drive that you can rotate with another that you keep offsite. As mentioned above, tape would be another good solution for backups of the NAS (as long as you get a drive with an auto feeder and can let it run overnight!).
  4. jane doe macrumors 6502

    Feb 18, 2004
    Its a 3 step process.

    1) use a backup program to backup files that are changed often. Do this once a day.

    2) make a copy of the other files to CD or DVD, these are your most important files but not just your working project files.

    3)make a back up of these two backups weekly and store them in a different place to protect from fire,theft, flood, etc.
  5. AstrosFan macrumors 6502


    Jul 26, 2005
    First & foremost, kudos for the forethought going into your backup plan overall!

    I think this last point that Jane Doe makes is key & is often overlooked. You'll need some mechanism to have off-site storage; that's why some have advocated the .mac service, though I have not tried it personally.
    I have a PowerBook & iMac & they serve as each other's local backup (manually synchronizing important files/libraries about 1x/month). Then, the same data is backed up to an external HD & that is locked at my work offsite.
  6. ziwi macrumors 65816


    Jan 6, 2004
    Right back where I started...
    So what is the Clone / Backup software of choice for this type of query?
  7. johnmartin78 macrumors regular


    Feb 10, 2007
    Along with your normal backup routine,it's a good idea to use an online backup as well.Remember,you not only have to worry about HD's failing,or discs losing data.But theres real world hazards too,house fires,power surges,lightning strikes ect...I like to have something out of the house.
  8. shecky thread starter Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    good advice so far everyone!

    a question re: permanence of DVD media. would it be a bad idea, rather than backing up to DVD, to back up to another drive instead and store that drive? i mean, buy a (good quality) hard drive, put it into an enclosure, put all my data on it, remove it from the enclosure, and store the drive offsite/securely. will data last longer/be more stable on a HD than on a DVD/CD? this idea is attractive as writing one HD takes one hell of a lot less space, a lot less time, and is a lot easier than burning 75 DVD's. i assume there must be a catch somehow, but i would much rather have half a dozen drives than 300 DVD's in storage.
  9. jaw04005 macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    My picks:

    Super Duper

    Carbon Copy Cloner

    My backup plan:

    1) Backup all data (seperately) to external hard drive #1
    2) Clone entire drive (including system files) to external hard drive #2
    3) Burn Verbatim DL DVD+R's (indvidiually wrapped, not spindle) using Toast with verification, then mail DVDs to a family member.
    4) Current projects get sent to my .Mac iDisk

    Once Leopard ships, I plan on purchasing a NAS device of some sort.
  10. Diatribe macrumors 601


    Jan 8, 2004
    Back in the motherland
    Yep, as the others have said it is always good to have more than one backup.

    1) Make a daily backup at home.
    2) Make a weekly backup that you keep off-site (at work for example)
    3) Keep important files on your iDisk if you have one

    or if you're really concerned use the above with a RAID system.

    With this strategy it is highly unlikely you'll ever lose important data and in the worst case (Apple's iDisk servers crashing and your house burning down at the same time :rolleyes: ) you'll only lose a week worth of data.
    If even that is too much risk, you can always do a daily off-site backup. :)
  11. Veritas&Equitas macrumors 68000


    Oct 31, 2005
    Twin Cities, MN
    Yeah, I'd make sure you backup ASAP. I'm in law school, and the 2 month old hard drive in my Macbook Pro just flat out failed last week; it wouldn't recognize it, couldn't get any files off of it. Sure to say, it was the biggest nightmare of my life. All my law school notes, papers, pictures, EVERYTHING, gone!

    Needless to say, the local data recovery services said it would cost anywhere from $400-$1,000 to retrieve the data, which is out of this world and something I can hardly afford. After looking over online data recovery software, I chose Data Rescue II. Honest to God, that program saved my life!! It was able to recover most of the stuff, so I could back it up (after 8 hours of searching). Anyways, I RMAed the drive back to Newegg. I'm not kidding, it was among the worst 36 hours of my life. Moral of the story, BACK UP EVERYTHING ASAP! You never know when a hard drive will fail...
  12. NorCalLights macrumors 6502a

    Apr 24, 2006
    I'm using Apple's Backup software (which comes with a .Mac subscription) to handle my backups. Here's my situation:

    My "current projects" folder is usually around 100MB in size, and I work from my laptop. I bring my laptop home with me every night, and take it to the office (or job site) every morning. I keep all the files I need "accessible" on my laptop's internal hard drive.

    My current projects folder gets backed up every day starting at 5:30 PM to my iDisk. It's always done before I'm ready to leave at 6:00. When the backup warning pops up, I hit save on all my files wherever I am in them. This is great because it gives me a copy of my current projects from any computer in the world.

    Every night, I backup my entire home folder to a drive at home. Now, that drive is attached to my Airport Extreme (which is an awesome setup).

    Once a week over the weekend, I do a clone of my internal drive to a portable external drive that I carry with me in my laptop case. This drive is always with me, and it can boot my computer if my hard drive (or system) fails while I'm at a job. I use Carbon Copy Cloner for this.

    I hope that helps...
  13. shecky thread starter Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    the more i am thinking about this the more it makes sense. i think building a cheap home server/NAS with a ton of storage makes a lot more sense than buying 2 or 3 external drives. my understanding based on some cursory research is that i can use some flavor of Linux for free as the OS on the server, and connect to my computer via ethernet thru my router (tho i suppose i would need a new router to use gigabit speed.) after that its basically a matter of building a cheap PC with room for drives; a mobo that supports RAID is a good idea if i want to use RAID5 in the future.

    can anyone direct me to a reasonably easy to understand resource on this stuff?
  14. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    No need for a new router - just plug the router into a gigabit switch and then plug your computer(s) and NAS into the switch as well.

    The Wikipedia pages on RAID are quite good: also there's a post here about making a PC-based Linux server that has some good links. If you can't be bothered to build your own there are some good ready-made NAS solutions now like the Infrant ReadyNAS and the Buffalo Terastation.
  15. blodwyn macrumors 65816

    Jul 28, 2004
    Portland, Oregon
    You might want to try FreeNAS on your PC. It's about as easy to install and set up as it gets.
  16. kitki83 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Whats the difference between FREENAS and Ubuntu Server?
  17. blodwyn macrumors 65816

    Jul 28, 2004
    Portland, Oregon
    I haven't tried Ubuntu server, but FreeNAS is bootable as a live CD and/or can be installed on a hard disk or USB key. It's purpose built for the job so set up is pretty minimal.
  18. Super Macho Man macrumors 6502a

    Super Macho Man

    Jul 24, 2006
    Hollywood, CA
    There is really no good backup medium. HDs are cheap, but unstable. DVD-Rs are cheap but archival quality varies wildly and unpredictably and they are a huge pain for large quantities of data. Tape is stable, but expensive, and who knows where the manufacturer will be in 5 years or if they will still be making drives at all, and who knows whether the backup software will run on future versions of OS X etc.

    Keep in mind that RAID is not intended to be used as backup. It won't protect against accidental deletion or overwriting. With hardware RAID such as RAID 5, if one drive dies, you can recover; but due to the variances even within the same model of RAID controllers, if your RAID controller dies, there is a good chance you are like totally screwed, man.

    I personally cannot imagine backing up onto 75 DVDs. DVD-Rs are hellspawn. On average they probably last about 1% as long as people think they do. You would definitely want to create a lot of parity data with DVDs, which would take even more time and space. Massive pain in the nuts. Go with tape or HD if you can at all afford it.

    I like the rotation strategy suggested by w0ngbr4d. Scheduled backups, offsite backups. If not using tape, use backup HDs and keep them unmounted and spun down when not in use. Offline. For <1TB of large files, I would say that multiple redundant HDs would be my choice. Would supplement with tape for added long-term protection.
  19. shecky thread starter Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.

    this is why i think for my needs an easily recoverable, non-hardware card specific software-based RAID like FreeNAS is the way i am going to go. i am not very demanding in terms of users or streaming off the server, just want it to be reliable and relatively transportable to another mobo/case/whatever if one dies; seems like software RAID is the way to go for that.

    that is kind of what i am thinking. i need to find some data on hard drive longevity, but my thoughts at the moment are as follows:

    -daily clone to a FW external drive (so it is bootable) every night of my working machine
    -ALL my data on the NAS so it is accessible; and almost as important, highly organized. i am not worried about accidental deletion, etc as i am hyper anal about naming conventions and iteration of work. i will also copy current work from my machine to the NAS a few times a day

    and the some version of

    -one round of backup to DL DVD media by project and client stored offsite
    -one round of backup to a few HD's that are put into an enclosure, added to, and removed and stored offsite. i would do 2 sets of these and alternate weekly or some other appropriate iteration. i need to think about the logical way to do this. this way i will not be burning multiple sets of DVDs which in addition to taking a long time to burn, take a long time to get data off of as well.

    that way i have:

    -a bootable "oh crap! my machine just died" drive of my mission critical, right now stuff.
    -ALL of my stuff on a well organized, highly accessible, stable, big RAID with the benefit of the built in safety that RAID5 gives you for drive failure (Copy 1)
    -ALL of my stuff backed up to DVD media and put in a safe place (Copy 2)
    -ALL of my stuff backed up to a quickly accessible set of HD's and put in a safe place (Copy 3)
  20. atom21 macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2007
    You should use a backup program first.

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