Best backup strategies for work?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Tygoeser, Nov 6, 2015.

  1. Tygoeser macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2015
    Chicago, IL
    I am currently switching over my work set up to a more mobile situation. I went from my older 2010 iMac to a new 15" macbook pro and will be purchasing a display to use for when I'm at the office. Now I can take my work with me. However, I'm still trying to solve one problem: backing up everything.

    I plan on using a small usb 3 ssd external drive (thunderbolt 2 ssd's are expensive!) for weekly work files and accounting backups. maybe around 256 gb max. for stuff that I need all the time. That will also help not weigh down my internal drive.

    But for backing up all the rest of the files? I work with large photos, and need to keep years of data stored. I have clients call who need a job done again from a few years back. I don't want to keep that all on the "small weekly drive" that I will be with me all the time. I want to store that on a larger drive for when I need it.

    Should I store it on a larger external drive or using a cloud storage? (example: dropbox business). I guess either way I will have enough space, but the nice thing about the cloud option is I can access them anywhere I go with internet. But what if I don't have internet for some reason when I'm out of the office? But I also don't want to have to carry around larger drive with me as well. Price wise, in the end I feel I save with the external drive, because the monthly cost of the cloud never stops.

    Here is the problem though, I also want to keep a time machine backup or carbon copy clone (or other similar software). I'm not sure which is best, but I notice that time machine takes up a lot of space! And it also can't be used with a cloud service. The good thing about clones is they are bootable from the external drive in case any internal failure.

    What do you guy think is best? To sum it up, I want to cover everything:

    1. Have a small fast drive for daily and weekly work
    2. Have a secure back up (time machine or clone)
    3. And have all older files backed up as well and accessible everywhere.

    Thanks for your help.
  2. hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2015
    on the land line mr. smith.
    Howdy -

    1. Sounds reasonable. Any external SSD will be fine, space being the primary concern. Are you planning to do manual copies and backups, or something automated?

    2. What is the destination of this secure backup.....the external SSD, or something else?

    3. Always nice; a good goal.


    If it were me.....I would add:

    1. Get a good external SSD for important data. This would be be your library of working files.

    2. Use something like Dropbox or iCloud for copies, versions, and web access of files you are working on.

    3. Use something like CrashPlan for true data backups. Note that the software is free, and you can backup to a a local network or attached drive and/or to (paid) CrashPlan cloud storage. Great disaster recovery, and one nice feature is that if you back up to an attached drive (or local network drive), it just runs, automatically, whenever the drive is attached. Same for cloud; runs whenever connected to the internet.

    If you went this route, you could use a big, inexpensive, and cheap external HD or network attached storage to build an archive of files and/or backups.
  3. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    Sounds for work you need something like the Caldigit ThunderboltStation 2. With a work dock you could plunged in USB3 drive plugged into the hub.

    If you want more of a mobile connections then maybe a modern NAS like the Synology DS415play. This way you could use it's VPN server to back up to it.
  4. kissyblessedmac macrumors newbie


    Nov 12, 2015

    I am in the exact same boat as you, so much so I am backing up as we speak. I 've been searching for this kind of solution myself, and haven't really found a full proof plan to attempt.

    Here is what I am doing since I believe our situations are similar.

    Im a full time student and I do web design, and video editing part time freelancing, so I am relying on my laptop almost for everything except food, air, and water.

    I am on my laptop (macbook pro 15 inch retina mid 2015) at least 15 hours a day.

    I am obsessed with backing up and have a paranoia fear as well. I currently have 5 external hard drive: 1 1tb macbook external drive (This is used solely for time machine backup) 1 tb Toshiba drive (used for movies and backup of movies) 1tb Seagate drive (back up of movies and music) 2tb WD my passport (my main drive, I use weekly and store all my files, photos, videos, school work etc) 1 Tb WD my passport (Backup of the 2tb drive).

    I currently have a subscription with crash plan.

    Now crash plan works great, my only dilemma I am having now is that I have 2tb of files and it takes forever it upload, it estimated 3 months. So I ve been looking for public wi fi places that may have a faster upload speed.

    I feel like I have 2 many drives but than again there is never too many backup so this will be my new plan hopefully it will work for you.

    1TB WD My Passport= will be for ONLY TimeMachine Backup. This will be stored at home

    1 Tb WD Metal My Passport= will be ONLY for clone Backup (I use SuperDuper) This will be stored at home

    2TB MY passport= My main drive, I use daily and is with me. All files are stored on here.

    1 tb My passport= Backup of my MAIN DRIVE (2tb) always have at least 2 backups of your most important drive

    Crashplan= Backups up my 2tb My passport drive and my all my other external drive

    My main solution will be to buy an external 4tb desktop hard drive and transfer all my files and just carry my 2tb drive but I will be doing weekly backups with Crashplan as well

    Drives fail, drives can get lost. I have paranoia of fire, natural disasters and etc. This is where crashplan come into place. Yes crash plan can go out of business or disappear, I have thought about that..but for a fire to happen and crashplan to disappear at the same time, may not be too likely. In that case send a drive to a family member to be sure.
  5. newgen macrumors newbie


    Nov 12, 2015
    Here is my situation and what I have done. Hopefully it will help give further ideas into what you may want to try.
    First, my situation and background.
    I work in IT and have been doing so for 20+ years.
    Primary workstations are a Macbook Pro Retina 15" (2015) and a Macbook Pro 13" (2010).
    Work computers include several networked PC's for office use.
    In the last 18 months, I've had my Macbook Pro Retina 15" stolen and was not recovered and the primary drive in my Macbook Pro 13" died with no ability to recover. In both instances I lost data. Purchasing the 3TB airport Capsule was the immediate action I took to instigate some automated backup of all loose data that was on my desktop or such. In both computer losses, my biggest pain point were files on the desktop that were actively being worked on and emails. As I didn't have an IMAP email configuration for my email, when I lost the laptops, I lost months of emails. You'll see that my other data backups in place covered me well in other areas as there was no work disruption for my employees. But all the active new work I was doing for presentations, new documentation and such really had no backup sitting on my desktop.

    I have a 3TB airport Capsule at home and it backs up whenever I get home everyday as I do work or use my laptop at home everyday. (I intentionally exclude the Movies, Downloads and Music (iTunes) folders). I also have a 10 TB Drobo attached to a PC at home that is always running. I run Crashplan to backup all multimedia (music, movies, downloads) folder to that Drobo. The importance of the Drobo to me is that it can handle a failed drive scenario. My intention is to keep all data on that Drobo for a very long time. And yes, in 4 years of doing this, I've had failed drives during that time. I also use the Drobo as an occasional data archive for old work files and pictures. I intentionally delete them from my laptop or other device and put them into archive folders on the Drobo organized by whatever category I think fits the data. For pics, I tend to use year and then put folders in that for the event or the month for misc. For Work files, I just have a folder called work data and I put the name of the project or company the data refers to. These are all essentially files that I haven't accessed in a year. That's my decider. 1 year of no access = archive cuz doing anything less means I'm just being a pack rat and keeping my primaries "messy/dirty" with useless immediately pertinent data.

    There was a time when I had portable drives such as USB sticks and portable drives at work or at home I would plug in to allow time machine to run or such. But over time, I would lose the USB stick or get to caught up and go weeks without plugging in that portable drive. So for me personally, I approached my personal backup solution with as much automated approaches as possible and with the full admission that I didn't want to have to always remember to backup.

    I run google drive @ work to keep all core data files synced and accessible to all laptops. I view it as a cloud backup since it's so big. As of the time of this writing, Google drive allows up to 15GB for free. I also installed it running on my Home PC with the Drobo and I allow Crashplan to back that data up to the drobo.

    On one of the work PC's I replaced the primary drive with a 540GB SSD and installed a standard SATA 4TB drive. I partitioned the SSD to a primary 80GB for the OS and left the rest for a D: Work Share drive. I installed a pc version of Crashplan and have the 4TB Sata serve as the backup drive of everything on the D: drive. Our work data folder is currently at 12GB.

    In the IT world, a common backup philosophy that I support is the 3:2:1. This stands for 3 backups occurring of any data @ 1 time because any one of the backup attempts might fail and since backups tend to be automated, you don't want to have to rely on the one time it might have failed. The 2 stands for types of media such as burning to backup tape and one to hard drive. (I don't stand by this for home data as nobody has $1,000 tape backup machines @ home. and 1 stands for a copy offsite from where the source data facility is. In my view, that means a separate entity that doesn't share the same electricity, hardware or facility. This philosophy applies to only active data. For archive data, it's generally accepted to have 3 total sets of the data and call it done. Onsite, that would be the primary and then an onsite backup and then a copy sent or kept offsite or in the cloud.

    My use cases are therefore as follows:
    1) Primary shared work data is synced and accessible by all via Google Drive on my laptop, but via shared drive at work. Backup of this data is by #1)Google Drive #2) Drobo Crashplan of Google Drive data #3) Airport Time Machine of Google Drive data #4) Crashplan backup to backup drive on primary PC @ work. This is overkill, but I've never lost data and I've had some close calls where 2 of the above had failed.

    2) Loose work data not yet shared on my laptop is backed up by #1) Airport Time Machine @ home (new for me and I'm glad to have spent the money on the airport time machine device. It works so well.)

    3) Heavy Multimedia on laptop such as music, photos, movies are backed up by Crashplan @home on Drobo.

    4) Every 6 months to a year, I purge all data from the laptop to archive folders on the Drobo. No backup of the Drobo is planned as the RAID configuration is sufficient for me. BUT, I do have a second Drobo and I'm considering having another crash plan configuration to mirror the first Drobo.
  6. hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2015
    on the land line mr. smith.

    Biggest downside to cloud backups....and with CrashPlan, the bottleneck is with them more than you, so don't expect changing your internet connection to make much difference. My hunch is they throttle throughput to keep overheads down, but that is just my hunch. Don't forget:

    • CP compresses and encrypst on the fly; neither of which is conducive to speed.
    • You can also backup using CP to a direct attached HD, or a local share/NAS. Much, MUCH faster.
    • If you need to get TBs of data up quickly, they (like most cloud providers) have a paid service to mail a set to (HD) to them, and then pickup from the mailed set.
    I like the CP to local backups best. I get the best of their features, security, and ease of versions to restore, while keeping backups fast on hardware in my physical possession.

    As for the HD juggle, it makes sense to consolidate now that HDs are big and cheap. I like the method of using a dock of some sort, and rotating 2 or more HDs for dedicated backups. Protects against HD failure, and gives more versioning protection. Some folks prefer 2 HDs mirrored together (or a RAID 5, etc), but I find it less flexible most of the time. Drobos are an exception as they can expand a volume on the fly, which is a big plus.

    Something like these units let you task any bare HD, as long as you have a couple spare trays:


    ...Allowing you to retire/resuse old HDs, and bring newer/bigger into the mix at any time, with CP and/or TM, plus you can always be ready with another drive to make a bootable clone before major OS updates. CP just starts as soon as it detects the volume/destination for the backup. No user interaction needed. Nothing to do or forget.

    And the same dock could be used to build an archive of sorts of data. Plug in the drive you need, access data. Think of it as a 6TB floppy disk. Just buy a few extra trays and you are in business.

    And lastly, I can use and re-task HDs until they I have multiple versions and a wide depth of restore options. No more worry about 1 or 2 backups misbehaving or failing. One can get max life, and minimal risk of data loss by rotating and re-tasking HDs, rather than buying all-in-one retail external HDs. You can sleep better too.

    The only thing it won't do so seamlessly or without at least some travel with you for mobile work.
  7. kissyblessedmac, Nov 17, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2015

    kissyblessedmac macrumors newbie


    Nov 12, 2015
    Hi hobowankenobi!

    Ok I will look into Crashplan to see if they have a paid mail service. This would be great if I could mail a hard drive to them for them to back up, because as we speak right now it shows 31 days left for my upload to be complete. I am trying to back up 1.7 TB.

    Thanks for that tip, I will look into that asap.

    @newgen I love your solutions, although the drobo route may be too expensive for my needs.
    Mind I ask how was your laptop stolen?

    I think about that fear a lot as well. I purchased lojack for laptops, I heard they have great success rates, although of course they can not guarantee returning your laptop but I guess some from of insurance is better than none.

    I am a college student so where I am at most students have apple computers so people are not eyeing to see who is slipping on theirs, but of course commuting on trains and buses in newyork will have you to fear. I don't think there is any special precautions of safety for your macbook, but I definitely do not pull it out in unsure areas.

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6 November 6, 2015