Critique My Backup Strategy

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by New Guy, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. New Guy macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2002
    I'm trying to get serious about backing up my family's iMac and the strategy I'm working with now is this:

    The 750 GB internal HD is cloned every week, using SuperDuper, to a 750 GB external HD attached via FireWire to the iMac.

    I have (on order) a 2 TB external HD attached via USB to my AEBS (located in my basement and attached to the iMac via ethernet) that I will use as a Time Machine backup for my iTunes library (I have iTunes Match so this may be unnecessary) my iPhoto library, my home movies and my documents.

    This way I have coverage from accidentally deleting a file (Time Machine) and coverage if my internal HD fails and I need to get back up and running quickly (Cloned HD).

    I'd—eventually—like to have a second cloned 750 GB drive so that I can alternate and keep one offsite (will SuperDuper alternate between the two?).

    Am I missing anything?

    I'm running Mountain Lion if that makes any difference.
  2. northernbaldy, Jan 1, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013

    northernbaldy macrumors 6502a


    Jan 13, 2010
    the north, UK
    Sounds pretty though to me
    Why not time machine the whole thing (as well as clone)
    That way you have the convenience of restoring the whole system from time machine and restoring to at least the last hour (I do love time machine)
    And you can use your clone if things really do go tits up
  3. Paulywauly macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009
    Durham, UK
    You dont appear to have any form of offsite backup meaning that if your house is ever destroyed or burgled you could lose everything. Keeping a backup over a friends house or using an online backup service would make your backup a lot more disaster proof
  4. Tumbleweed666 macrumors 68000

    Mar 20, 2009
    Near London, UK.
    Aside the lack of offsite backup (until you get a cloned disk you store offsite) the one thing is user error.

    In the past, for example, the person typing this post has behaved like a complete imbecile and done something that involved wreaking disastrous havoc upon my computer.

    So, until you get a second disk you store offsite, make sure that the disk you clone to weekly is powered down or at least ejected after the clone, so that in the event of you having a similar dolt on your computer, that disk is impossible to affect.
  5. New Guy thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2002
    I thought about that. But then it seemed rather redundant. Now that I have an iPad and I'm no longer freelancing (graphic design) I really don't use the iMac at home much. I do make an occasional iMovie, design a family Christmas card, or play a game but no real work anymore. It's become my media storage center, mostly.

    I thought by restricting the backups to just my documents, photos, etc., I'd get more use out of the TM HD. I had a TM backup going for a few months right after TM first came out but it either killed that drive or the drive went bad on its own. And it just felt like it filled up really quickly.

    Maybe I'll try the full backup for a few months to see how it goes.


    My biggest fear is losing my pictures of the kids. Anything else, while irreplaceable, wouldn't bother me too much. That being said, I do eventually plan to have an off site backup. I'll swap the clone each week/month and keep one at my office.

    I've heard some good things about the online services but I'm not sure I'm ready for that. Still need to look into it some more.

    Is crash plan the gold standard of online backups?


    I've fat fingered my way into some sticky situations, as far as computers are concerned. So, I know where your coming from. That's pretty much the impetus for my resurgent interest in a robust backup strategy...proofing for this fool.
  6. WesCole macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2010
    I always recommend CrashPlan. It is pretty cheap for unlimited off-site backup. I use it for the things I cannot get back if I lose my photos, old home movies, etc. That is worth the price to me.
  7. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    The only flaw I see in your plan is you are using a USB drive off the Airport Extreme and that is not supported by Apple. We were just discussed that in this thread.

    I would just attach the USB drive direct and let Time Machine run with it.

    I second (third?) the Crashplan recommendation. If you prepay three years at a time it is really reasonable. It is quite transparent for me and I don't have to worry about swapping around drives and storing them offsite. I believe they still have a free 30 day trial so you can give it a try.
  8. New Guy thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2002
    Really!?! The AE should just be acting as a USB router as far as the TM backup is concerned as it is wired to my iMac via Ethernet. I don't see why it shouldn't work. If, however, that is the way Apple designed it then I'm really at a loss.
  9. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I think your backup strategy can be just about perfect with one little addition. Pick up a spare firewire drive. About once a week, swap the drive you clone to and take it off site somewhere. One possibility is a safe deposit box. Another possibility is a friend that you trust.

    Another possibility is to use Crashplan. Crashplan sells a subscription based backup service but if you have a friend willing to let you back up to their site, Crashplan provides off site backup for free. This would be a variation of my first suggestion only this time instead of driving to your friend's house once a week or so, you'd only go there once. Then, providing both you and your friend are Crashplan users, you can back up to your fw drive even while it's at your friend's house (using internet bandwidth of course).

    Time Machine is nice but I don't consider it much of a backup. It's failed me more than twice. Once, the power supply in my first gen TC died and Apple fixed it for free but sent it back empty. At the same time my daughter's Mac mini died and we lost all her stuff for real and for ever. The second time was when I was putting Lion on my wife's machine. Somehow her HDD got wiped and when I went to restore from TM, I found the backup was corrupted and useless. This time I had a Crashplan backup to restore from and I brought all her stuff back quickly. There were other situations where TM let me down, none of which resulted in loss of data once I adopted a strategy where TM was never my one and only backup.
  10. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I agree it should work, but Apple gimped it for some reason. Maybe to get people to buy more Time Capsules?
  11. New Guy thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2002
    My external drive arrived yesterday. After formatting it via FireWire I disconnected it and hooked it up to the AEBS via USB. I went back to my iMac and was able to view the external drive. I then opened up Time Machine to try and make a backup but a time machine would not recognize the drive. After searching through Anton more help files I saw the text that said an external USB drive hooked up to an AEBS via USB would NOT work with Time Machine even when the AEBS is connected to the network via Ethernet. As much as I love Apple products I find this fact very frustrating as a user.

    In the end, I hooked the drive directly to the iMac again and am using it for Time Machine. I have not excluded any folders. So, I should have another complete backup/restore available should my weekly clone drive fail.

    After looking into crash plan I think I am also going to supplement with that and forego a 2nd clone that I swap weekly and bring offsite.

    My final backup strategy now looks like this:

    2TB Time Machine
    750GB Weekly Clone of internal iMac HD
    Crash Plan On-Line/Off-Site Backup

    Once my internal HD gets too full with home movies/photos/music ill have to look again into offloading some media to a network drive, but this should work for a while.

    Thanks again for all of your advice.
  12. Dduval macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2012

    I think you're covered for any major/minor disasters.

    I can recommend crash plan as well. Couldn't do with out it.

    I clone every day to external 2tb FW800 drive, then crash plan is backing up every 15 minutes. Don't use time machine for some reasons listed.

    I also like crash plan because they have a great mobile app that I can retrieve any file, any time, to my iPhone and ipad.

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