Best, foolproof portable backup solution? (USB)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by benguild, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. benguild macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    #1
    So, worst case scenario:
    SSD dies in my computer, I go to restore from an external backup only to find that's corrupt or failing.

    What's the best solution for backing up a portable computer? The problem with using multiple Time Machine destinations is that you don't really know which one is the most intact. When traveling, drives can get damaged.

    I thought of using an external SSD in addition to my internal SSD and hope that both drives wouldn't fail or have corruption simultaneously. I can't think of a better portable backup solution.

    Thoughts? What are you using?
     
  2. Pentad macrumors 6502a

    Pentad

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2003
    Location:
    Indiana
    #2
    You have some options:


    1. Buy an external drive and use Time Machine.

    2. Buy an external drive and use something like Carbonite.

    3. Buy an external drive and clone the internal drive to it (mirror copy).


    I am using option 1 with a TB USB 3 drive. It works pretty well. I thought about going to 2 because I have many colleagues using that and they very much like it.

    Option 3 is probably your best bet for easy recovery since it is an exact -bootable- copy of your drive which can be plugged into to another like Mac and you are up and running.



    -P
     
  3. benguild thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 29, 2003
    #3
    Time Machine/Capsule is fine (in theory), but the thing is that I don't know if you can really trust the second point of failure if you're just backing up to it without really testing it constantly. You'd witness hard drive corruption on the machine you're using due to bizarre behavior, but what about the external? You wouldn't know it's dead until it's too late!

    I'm thinking for corruption's sake it's best to use an external SSD, no?
     
  4. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

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    Dec 21, 2011
    #4
    I have a single 1.5TB USB drive for backups.

    1TB is partitioned for Time Machine,
    500GB is partitioned for a clone of my internal using SuperDuper

    The TM backup is for saving multiple versions of my documents (obviously). The bootable Clone is in case I have an internal SSD failure and can just work off that until I get a replacement.

    Might be pressing my luck having both backup partitions on the same platter but really... I'm not that OCD about it and feel I'm pretty much covered.

    To commence the backup to both partitions I just plug in the USB cable and let a utility along with an Applescript do its thing. (I wanted the TM backup to wait until the clone was done - too much drive activity doing both at the same time).
     
  5. benguild thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 29, 2003
    #5
    Isn't Time Machine a pretty solid backup of the entire system, though? (Minus any exclusions, of course)

    Still, if your main system fails ... and your Time Machine drive is also showing signs of corruption, aren't you screwed?
     
  6. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2011
    #6
    . No.

    Migrating a TM backup to a new drive is not the same as a clone and is generally a pain.

    How am I screwed? I still have everything on my mac until I backup to a new drive. :)
     
  7. benguild thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 29, 2003
    #7
    I thought Time Machine restores were essentially the same as running a migration from one machine to another, but from an external drive, no?

    What I'm saying is that if your backup is failed and your main system drive dies, how can you have any data protection?
     
  8. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

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    Dec 21, 2011
    #8
    No. There are a few more hoops to jump through and certain apps settings are lost on the restore. I never use a TM Migration. If I'm going to go through all that I may as well just keep a clone around (which I do).

    Backup AND main drive fail at the same time? :eek: Those are long odds. Regardless, I have a multitude of external drives laying around and would only be without for a short while. I also keep about 10GB of crap that's really important in various clouds.
     
  9. benguild thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 29, 2003
    #9

    Yeah but if your bag is stolen and your external has experienced shock while in transit... it's possible. While laying in the same place, unlikely, but in transit it's likely.

    Anyway, so you're saying you're better off keeping a carbon copy of the drive for doing migrations/restores versus Time Machine? I've never really had an issue with doing a migration from an old machine and only have a small checklist written down for double checking things afterward. Is this what you're referring to, or are there even more issues with Time Machine?

    I'm still thinking that for when traveling, an external SSD is the best idea due to its lack of issue with physical shock.
     
  10. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #10
    Just for clarity, I think we are intermingling two things here. The first is a "migration" of data only to a drive (or new machine) that has the OS on it, and that involves using the OS X Migration Assistant. The second, and I think what you are after is a "restore" of data/OS in response to a dead drive.

    If you have a Time Machine backup made since 10.7.2, you DO have a bootable restore function on the Time Machine external backup drive. The only difference between this and the "clone" others have mentioned is you can actually boot and run the machine from a clone, but I am not hearing that is actually a requirement for you.

    If you have a valid Time Machine backup (after 10.7.2) and your drive dies, you just pop in a new drive and option key boot from the Time Machine disk, format with Disk Util then click restore. The entire OS and all apps and data will be restored to the disk just like if you had cloned using CCC or other tools.

    Certainly a valid concern. You can either use Time Machine to create a second external drive backup or pay for offsite storage with a service like Crashplan. Time Machine now manages multiple backup disks quite well. Just cycle in the next disk and Time Machine will know when that disk was updated last and handle it for you.
     
  11. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    Location:
    NYC
    #11
    I backup to a NAS, bus-powered RAID 1 enclosure, and to an offsite service.
     
  12. bobr1952 macrumors 68020

    bobr1952

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    Jan 21, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, FL
    #12
    I like the two drive/two plan approach. I use Time Machine to back up daily to a networked portable drive. I also use Super Duper to make a bootable copy of my SSD to a different external portable drive. I don't keep that as current as the Time Machine copy but between the two, most situations will be covered.
     
  13. 725032 Guest

    725032

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2012
    #13
    Best solution for multiple backup fails... Is multiple backup solutions!

    1. Get an external back up drive

    2. Get a cloud backup

    3. Get a cloud backup from a different provider.

    4. Backup on a usb stick and hide
     
  14. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

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    Dec 21, 2011
    #14
    All this doom and gloom. You are proposing scenarios that aren't that typical.

    If your backup is lost, stolen or fails... you have your primary. And vica-versa. The only issue is if you keep both in the same place and the house burns down. (That's what the cloud is for).

    Just find a backup solution that is easy and painless to perform. Easy being the key word otherwise you (like most people) will never back up at all. My solution is to automate it as much as possible and to get myself back on my feet ASAP should there ever be a problem. Ironically, in 30+ years of data usage I've never had a single drive failure.
     
  15. benguild thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    #15
    This is great info, thanks!
    Is there any way to judge the validity/corruptness of an external drive? I know you can verify with Disk Utility, but it always just says "appears to be OK."

    I almost feel like investing in an external SSD would be better for handling corruption, but who knows what happens when those go bad. As far as I know they just stop accepting "writes" in various places. :(
     
  16. leman macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #16
    The only foolproof way of ensuring the safety of your data is redundancy. Store copies of the data everywhere. I my data on my Time Capsule at home, a external rugged HDD on the way, most important projects are also saved on Dropbox and my code is on github and bitbucket. Also, I periodically backup my documents to the university server. A single external HDD is not enough by any means.
     
  17. Puevlo macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2011
    #17
    Nothing is foolproof. Expect to have all your data destroyed at some point.
     
  18. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #18
    Run Disk Util like you said, and you can also option key click the Time Machine menulet and click Verify Backups. If you are that worried, maybe just buy two cheap drives and do a Time Machine backup to both and rotate them every day or so. Some people rotate once a week and take the second drive to the office or a friends house for offsite storage.

    While I am a big fan of SSDs for the speed, they don't seem to be any more reliable. I would not spend the money on an SSD just for backup.
     
  19. richnyc macrumors regular

    richnyc

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    Nov 8, 2012
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    #19

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