External HD vs. online back up?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Eldiablojoe, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. Eldiablojoe macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2009
    West Koast
    I want to figure out the best way to back up my new MacBook (I'm a newbie convert from PC).

    Is Time Capsule the best way to back up my files? Is it compatible with USB connected external HD's or with online back ups?

    I'm trying to decide between a small physical external HD like OWC and an online service like safecopy (.com).

    Also, how do these compare to a service like Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC)?

    I would appreciate any thoughts or insight.

    Yes, I've just spent a coupla hours reading a bunch of MacRumor threads including TheGoldenMacKid's guide, and Ravencr's extensive chat sessions with Carbonite and Safecopy customer service.


  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    If you're imaging your entire hard drive then online services are usually too slow. You also can't boot from an online backup.

    What's important to you; being bootable or having your backup offsite?
  3. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    You are talking about 3 different things.

    first, you can use *any* USB 2 drive made. Doesnt matter by who.

    Smaller 2.5" drives cost more: heres 640 gigs for $100

    Tons of 1TB ones for $100, but these are larger 3.5" drives: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...8&bop=And&ActiveSearchResult=True&Order=PRICE

    problem with online backup (never heard of safecopy, fwiw) is upload time. great for small stuff, but not for a lot of data. lets say you have good DSL and get 8 megs per minute to upload.

    20 gigs (say all your music) = 20,000 megs @ 8 megs per minute = 2500 minutes or 41 hours -- and thats 24/7 upload

    and Carbon Copy Cloner is not a service, its software designed to backup your drive to another drive

    Your best bet is to buy the largest drive you can afford then start Time Machine and be done with it.

    Once you have played around more, and have learned more about how OS X works, then revisit the other options...

    and for you:


  4. Nostromo macrumors 65816


    Dec 26, 2009
    Deep Space
    I see the advantage of online back-up as an additional security measure.

    But for daily back-ups it would be too slow for me.

    I just had to back up 9 Gb of image folders today. This would have taken quite a while to upload.
  5. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere


    Apr 16, 2008
    At the iPhone hacks section.
    With external and portable drives getting cheaper and cheaper I wouldnt bother with monthly fees or charges associated with online backup websites.
    Also the time it would take to upload or even download your stuff is painfull.
    Slap on a usb drive, copy what you need and you're good.
  6. ChefJayPeek macrumors regular

    Jul 8, 2008
    Suburban Texas
    Only thing is, if your house burns down, or somebody breaks in and steals your stuff, or it floods and your computer and backup drive float away....

    I have a Time Machine backup on a 1 TB external, AND I back up my documents folder daily to my Mobile Me account. One single backup drive stored at the primary location where the computer is used is not perfect. I am actually considering getting a second external drive for complete backups and keeping it offsite, either at work, or some place else that would not be affected in the event of a localized disaster. This is part of why I backup my documents folder to Mobile Me. Sure if my house burned down, I would have to reload all my applications, but all the documents I use on a daily basis for work and such would still be protected.

    Offsite backups are one more layer of protection. Yes I have been burned by HD failure in the past, I learned my lesson, and now I cover my bases as much as possible.

    Chef Jay
  7. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere


    Apr 16, 2008
    At the iPhone hacks section.
    Thats correct.
    Its always good to have them backed up in at least 2 seperate drives incase one dies. And that offsite suggestion is great. Keep a backup somewhere away from where your actual computer is located incase dissaster strikes.
  8. EndlessMac macrumors 6502

    Aug 20, 2009
    That really is a problem with online backups. Even if you have a fast upload speed you don't want to spend a lot of time uploading which eats up your internet speeds for other internet related tasks and some ISPs have monthly bandwidth limits. You might want check with your ISP before starting an online backup service. An online service can be great for smaller amounts of data though and it's nice if you need those files outside of the house.

    An external hard drive will be the faster choice and as mentioned you can have a 2nd drive off site for protection. Bring the 2nd one home once a week to update the hard drive and you should be good. Also with a hard drive you don't have to constantly pay the monthly fee. It comes down to your preference and situation.
  9. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Personally I like to use both. My three tiered backup system typically looks something like this:
    - a bootable image available on-site
    - a daily (at least) local backup with something like Time Machine
    - a daily backup to a remote server of the most important stuff.

    Yes, the initial backup can be quite slow, as most home Internet service in the US is still limited to 1 Mbps, but once the initial backup is done, it only backs up the changed or added files meaning most days it happens very quickly. This is probably also not the place for you to back up everything - just the most important stuff. Besides being safer than at your home, you also get file versioning and can access your files from any computer, anywhere.

    Really, the most important thing is to have ANY backup system in place. Secondary is to make it automated, because you won't do a manual backup as frequently as you think you will.
  10. pubwvj macrumors 68000


    Oct 1, 2004
    Mountains of Vermont
    I use the _program_ Carbon Copy Cloner for some of my backup, such as making an end of the year copy of my drives to a backup hard drive.

    I use the _program_ Deja Vu which runs nightly backups of changed files maintaining a mirror of my data on a RAID drive that is on the USB port of my Airport Extreme. Deja Vu also backups up key files to a CompactFlash memory card on my PowerBook.

    At times I've maintained my backup drive in a separate building - that is ideal.

    Occasionally make DVD backup copies.


    Sugar Mountain Farm
    in the mountains of Vermont
    Save 30% off Pastured Pork with free processing: http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
    Read about our on-farm butcher shop project: http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
  11. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    QFT. Also, if you ever had to restore your computer via online back-up, could you imagine moving 100GB+?
  12. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    No, online backup may not be the best choice for huge amounts of data, but for most people who only have a few gigs or so of important data, they'd be far safer entrusting it to the pros at a data center rather than at home where they may have to remember to hook up the drive and manually run the backup or on a drive that is subjected to the abuse and risk oF being carried around in a bag. Ideally you'd do both, but honestly the online option gains more ground every day. Heck, Microsoft will give anyone 25 gigs FREE on skydrive.
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "I'm trying to decide between a small physical external HD like OWC and an online service like safecopy (.com).
    Also, how do these compare to a service like Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC)?"

    CCC is not a "service". It's an application that you set up and use.

    I would also caution you to AVOID "Time Capsules". Do a search in this forum and you'll see how many, many others end up with dead units after about 18 months due to very poor design.

    And finally, I'd caution you against using Time Machine. It eats up disk space, burns up external drives (which have to be left on for TM to "do its thing"), and the backups it creates are NOT BOOTABLE IN AN EMERGENCY. This board has repeated posts from TM users who - in a moment of need - cannot "get to" their TM backups.

    So, where does that leave you?

    For an easily-accessible backup that you can BOOT FROM, you need to get an external drive and use a "cloning" application like CarbonCopyCloner (or SuperDuper) to create the clone backup.

    If you've got a MacBook (i.e., no Firewire), USB2 will do. If you have a MacBook Pro with firewire (800, I presume?), get an external that has a firewire 800 connection.

    Once you have it, the backup process is simple: connect the drive, run CCC, disconnect the drive. Repeat as often as you feel the need (at least once or twice a week will do for most folks).

    Perhaps it's just me, but I have no use for "cloud backups". What happens if the cloud disappears?
  14. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Oh, come on. Time Machine is not capable of 'burning up' your hard disk anymore than turning you computer is. Yes, all hard drives may fail, that's why you make backups of data in the first place.

    Bootable images have their place, but they are not the best or day in and day out backups. Furthermore, you don't need to boot from a time machine backup - you boot from your install cd then choose the snapshot you want to restore to! Remembering to hook up a drive and manaully back up is far better than nothing, but no where near as good as automatic daily or hourly backups with time machine or online. What if that paper you were working on this morning was accidentally deleted or corrupt this afternoon?

    No backup is infallible - that's why it's a backup!! Use a reputable cloud provider and your data is FAR safer than on a single disk sitting on your desk at home.

    Sheesh, there should be some kind of test before you can give technical advice here or something.
  15. alent1234 macrumors 603

    Jun 19, 2009
    for the price Mozy looks great and it's owned by EMC which is huge in the enterprise storage business and is not going away

    if i had a choice between Time Capsule and Mozy, it would be Mozy. Time Capsules seem to self destruct after 18 months and for the price are way too expensive compared to Mozy
  16. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    I think he means that TM requires your drive to be "on" all the time, therefore decreasing its life...a dubious assertion at best.
  17. EndlessMac macrumors 6502

    Aug 20, 2009
    You don't have to leave Time Machine always on. You can leave it off and do manual backups by connecting your external hard drive and then right click on the Time Machine icon in the dock and select Back Up Now. The advantage of always having TM on is that you will get more recent backups of your data so if you accidentally deleted something or saved over a previous version you prefer then you can get them back.

    TM can use up a lot of hard drive space but the trade off benefit of this is like the example I mentioned above but it can go back months if your hard drive is large enough meaning you can retrieve data that you had a long time back. I think it's more common for people to delete or lose small amounts of data by accident or have file corruption rather than losing their whole drive so having many timeline backups might be more important. Also if your optical drive is working and you have your Mac OS DVD then the need for a bootable drive isn't as great because you can boot from the OS DVD and then restore from TM. Having a bootable hard drive clone is faster though to get back to work.

    The other benefit of TM is that it's extremely easily to use, convenient, and comes free with Mac OS. The best backup is usually the one that is done often so TM does fit that description. It has already been mentioned but it's worth saying again that no one backup solution is perfect.

    A nice solution might be using TM for on-site regular backups and then creating a clone copy for off site backups or whatever combination works for a person's needs. The online backup can also be added however a person thinks works best for them but I don't think it should be their only backup. There is also no need to spend the money on an expensive Time Capsule because any external hard drive will work.

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