Backup strategies- help!


macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 28, 2003
Riverside, Ca
So, my hard drive crashed. There's actually a burn mark on one of the chips, and data recovery people want a ton of money. I had most of the stuff backed up on CD's back in August, but I didn't have my 30gb of music, nor my email from the last 4 years. Damn.

So now I have a new hard drive and I need a solid backup plan. I want to get an external drive and set some kind of program that does a backup a few times per week. Is there such a program? And what brand of hard drive is best? Is there a brand that is better than the others or are they all the same? My current hd is a 160gb, should the backup be the same size?


macrumors G4
HD prices are cheap so you might as well give the biggest one you can afford. My HD is 80GB and has about 30GB free but I bought a 250GB drive (best price per GB) - the idea is that I can have two backups if I want to and still have spare space for any other files that I don't need regularly but don't want to get lose entirely.

I back mine up as bootable copies (takes a little longer) so that if the worst happens, I have an exact copy of my system. You need to decide whether you want to do this or whether you'd want to fresh install and then add all your apps/files back over.

Some HDs come with software for backing up (LaCie comes with Silverkeeper for example) but I've been using SuperDuper! which, silly name aside, has been excellent. It allows you to schedule backups at various times and backup various things. Carbon Clone Copier is a another option if you want a bootable drive.

.Mac has Backup software if it's just things in your user directory that you want to move over (otherwise the permissions can go a little skewed)

Here's a couple of articles that I found useful when I was investigating this a few months ago

There was a third one which had fuller reviews of the items on maczealots but I can't find it now - sorry.


macrumors 68000
Aug 5, 2003
its always good to have the back up drive be larger than the drive you are saving from. That so you can store multiple copies of the same files incase you want to go back to an older one. Plus, you are sure to not run out of room if you only keep one copy.

I use the backup utility that comes with a .mac subscription, and it so far doing just fine. I back up some stuff to my idisk, while backing up large amouts of files to my network server. And I have it do it automatically every night while I sleep. I do, when I buy a bunch of new music, make a copy onto the file server not using any backup utility, just a straight copy.


macrumors 6502a
Jan 18, 2004

My original solution in OSX (after accepting that I wasn't going to be able to drag and drop a backup like I could in OS9) was to use Carbon Copy Cloner to copy over my 4GB hard drive onto a Disk Image on an external drive, and then to burn that disk image to a DVD.

That worked well when I was confined to a smaller-than-dvd hard drive on my Mac, but when I upgraded to a 40GB, I had to look elsewhere.

The first (and only) solution that I've found to get to DVD without permissions issues halting the entire process is Impression, available at Versiontracker. While not as feature-full as Data Backup or similar programs, it just works and has never failed on a burn for me. I recommend it highly.

That said, keep in mind that even nightly (replaced) backups to an external drive only fix the "crashing" problem. It doesn't help you to get back a file you accidentally deleted a week ago or to get a good copy of a file that got corrupted a week ago. For that, you want to do weekly or monthly burns to dvd.

It's kind of like when I found out that my current IT guys at work were backing up to 5 tapes (a Monday tape, a Tuesday tape, etc.) without ever pulling a tape out of the rotation for permanent archive. What happens if I write a faulty script for the database that erases a bunch of data, and I don't realize it until a week later? Those archived copies can save your life!


macrumors G5
There's no one "best" hard drive model, Seagate, Maxtor, Western Digital and Hitachi all have good products. Don't have much experience with Samsungs. You can't generalize from the performance of a couple of years ago, because the designs are all changed now.

(I still expect someone to post "I'll never buy Hitachi, what about that "Deathstar" IBM drive, huh?". Reread preceding paragraph.)

Look for a drive with at least a 3 year warranty. It's worth the extra $10.

Now about that crashed drive: here's what I did once. I buned out the circuit board on a drive, but I was pretty sure that the mechanism was OK. (ironically, I shorted the SCSI SCA adaptor to the chassis of the drive while installing a backup drive. Doh! Note to self: if you see exposed power terminals on the backside of an adaptor board, tape 'em over first before installing)

Purchased another drive of *exactly* the same model for $125 plus $75 overnight FedEx, swapped circuit boards, recovered my data 100%. If you got the drive back from the recovery company, and the data is valuable, it may be worth a try. If you are really careful, even if you can't recover, you can reinstall the circuit board on the new drive and you've got another drive to use.



macrumors member
Jan 15, 2004
the South
I use Carbon Copy Cloner and back-up to an external firewire drive. It allows you to create a bootbale copy of your hard drive and is really simple to use. You can scheulde it to back-up each day if you want to. :cool:
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.