Backup and External Drive Strategy for two laptops

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by KellyC, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. KellyC macrumors member

    May 11, 2012
    Any suggestions on a workflow and hardware to store and back up a household's data?

    I've got a mid-2011 MBA and am about to get one of the MBAs for my wife.

    After we get rid of my wife's old Dell laptop running Win Vista, we will have moved entirely to IOS/Mac (not a fanboy, just seems like a simple platform to standardize on at home). 1 Apple TV, 2 ipads, 2 iphones, 2 Mac laptops.

    We prefer to use laptops at home due to their portability, but this has led to having an extremely fragmented system of storing data on our individual laptops, cameras, external hard drives, etc.

    Without going into too much detail, one of our external drives recently died and we are facing the prospect of losing a significant amount of photos.

    That being said, I'd like to find out what kind of process or pattern people use to store and back up household data such as videos, photos, shared files like budgets, etc.

    One thing I want to avoid is 'anchoring' a laptop to one location with a bunch of cables and drives. However, at the same time, is there a way to set back up so that our machines don't go into back up mode every time we try to use them?

    I will use time machine and will likely purchase Time Capsule as our final line back up. I assume I can configure both Macs to back up to one Time Capsule.

    However, what about off board storage? I'd appreciate suggestions for external hard drives that both Macs could write to. Ideally they would be blue tooth and live on some shelf.

    What about workflows? e.g. wife goes out and snaps a bunch of photos with her camera, what is the drive of record for the family? Any patterns people could suggest would be appreciated.

    I'm also curious to know if there is a way to re-share all content with the family through our 4 IOS devices and Apple TV without having one of our laptops running...
  2. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    You touched on it... I would just get a Time Capsule. You can backup multiple machines to it no problem and it will do it wirelessly. Very transparent. You can also store files on there you want to share.

    iPhoto is a little more complex. You CAN put the iPhoto library in the Time Capsule, but that can lead to problems if two people access it at the same time. What I would do it pick on machine as the central spot for iPhoto then use the built in iPhoto sharing to allow others to see the photos. The central machine does have to be on for this though.
  3. KellyC thread starter macrumors member

    May 11, 2012
    Thanks for the reply. I am def. going with a Time Capsule as our final destination backup. However, I was under the impression that Time Capsule is not a good solution for an 'active drive,' e.g. one that's used as an external hard drive for moving files back and forth off of.

    I guess I had it in my head that we would have two laptops that wrote to time capsule for total data back up.

    Then we would have an external drive that served as a 'data mart' for all of the content coming off of my and my wife's machines. The external hard drive would be the merger of the data on my and her machines.


    Thanks for the suggestion for designating one Mac as the iPhoto hub. I'll def. go that route and assign my wife's new machine as the official upload and editing machine since she will have the latest built MBA which will handle editing HD videos from our video camera better than mine.
  4. fridgeymonster3 macrumors 6502


    Jan 28, 2008
    For an active drive on your network, does your wireless router have an accessible USB port? If so, adding a network drive can be as simple as adding an external drive connected via usb.
  5. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    You can definitely use the Time Capsule drive as the external drive for shared storage as well as Time Machine backup at the same time no problem. If you want more storage you could hang a USB drive off the Time Capsule also.
  6. CASLondon, Oct 28, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012

    CASLondon macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011

    That last point about sharing out media and photos, and having a drive of record, suggests to me you want to look into NAS for the house. That's the only way, unless you get something else running as a home server. You could also use NAS for your backups, wirelessly, and it could be RAID 1 for more redundancy. Check out Synology.

    Also, as for workflows for pictures/docs, why not just have everyone using either Photostream or, what I do, automate the process of sending pictures (from iPhone) straight to a Dropbox folder, and that dumps into our main family photo library on our desktop but is accessible by all of us. Dropbox is probably the most flexible for you all it sounds like.

    As for my backups, one, have more than one copy i.e. back up the time capsule if that's the way you go.

    Two, we have a similar set up (ipad, iphone, imac, my macbook pro). Each computer has a dual drive setup (boot ssd plus a data disk.)

    Carbon Copy Cloner and Super Duper allow you to make bootable clones, and to set up incremental scheduled clones. I have more faith in these, with wired drives (paranoid about fluctuations/drop outs and data corruption), as you always know the data sizes you are backing up (time capsule grows with time as it adds versions), you can boot any back up as if it were your system itself, and you can clone the multiple drive setups as a pair easily.

    We have an external 2 Tb drive, a little Mac-like G Tech, that does scheduled backups of the iMac (with 3Tb family photo and media server function, not close to filled), and I use a drive dock with bare drives as the most cost effective flexible system for my MBP, about once a week (in between my pics and documents are on dropbox, so I can't lose them).

    I put a copy of the drives in my mother in law's house, as having a copy offsite is useful (friend got his house broken into and found out the hard way).

    I don't think there are any bluetooth drives. Anyway, if you really care about wireless, go NAS or the Time Capsule, just make sure its not your only copy. You don't want wires, but I really like the cheap basic reliable, one button pressing clone to a connected drive, can't be beat

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