Help me find my ideal backup solution

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by luigidorf, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. luigidorf macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    #1
    So I went and ordered my new 15" MBP; should be here on Tuesday. I'll be running Windows 7 on a separate partition of my HD. I'm trying to figure out how to best back up both partitions.

    I'm pretty sure I'll use a standard external drive. The only hardware question I have is does it make sense to wait for thunderbolt-compatible drives? Will they be here any time soon? I think I read that most hard drives aren't fast enough to benefit from a faster connection, so using thunderbolt wouldn't be any better than USB or Firewire. True?

    My main confusion is with software. I'm considering SuperDuper, Carbon Copy Cloner, and Time Machine for the Mac side but having a Windows partition makes stuff a lot more complicated. Is there any software that lets me back up my Windows partition without booting to Windows?

    Seems like SuperDuper and Carbon Copy Cloner make bootable clones, so does that mean if my HD failed I could just drop in my external drive and I'd be back in business? What more would I have to do if I used Time Machine?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. willieva macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2010
    #2
    Hard drives are plenty fast enough to benefit from a faster connection. Still, it's probably not worth the extra expense to have thunderbolt for a backup system. Any decent backup program will be doing incremental backups, so the amount of data flowing isn't all that much if you're doing regular backups.

    Bootable backup means you just boot from the external hard drive. You don't need to "drop it in". I forget the key combo to boot from external drive when booting the mac, but it's as simple as holding some keys down when you turn your mac on. Almost no downtime.

    Recovering from a disk failure is with time machine is more difficult. You'd need to get a disk, install the OS on it, then get time machine to rebuild your system.

    Is there a reason you want a separate partition for windows? Most computers are plenty fast to run windows in a virtual machine like fusion or parallels. That way you can use your mac and windows machines simultaneously. Plus it makes backups much easier. Just one program will backup both your mac and windows machines at the same time, and recovering will be a snap. Except time machine of course. Time machine and virtual computers don't mix well.
     
  3. luigidorf thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 25, 2009
    #3
    When I said "drop it in" I suppose I was envisioning an internal hard drive in an enclosure functioning as an external drive. That way I wouldn't have to wait until I got a new hard drive to restore full functionality. Is it as easy as that? Is that a recommended way of doing things?

    So the drawbacks to time machine are that I would have to buy and install the OS all over again, and get time machine to rebuild my system? How much of a hassle is it to get time machine to "rebuild" the system?

    I'll be working on a laptop and I'll probably only connect my laptop to my external drive to do nightly backups, so are there any benefits of using Time Machine over SD or CCC?

    I planned on getting a separate partition for Windows because I'll be running AutoCAD and Mathcad, which I have heard take a lot of computing power. My computer will have a 2.2 GHz i7 processor and 8GB of RAM... Pretty decent so it might work I guess.

    Thanks for your reply!
     
  4. willieva macrumors 6502

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    Mar 12, 2010
    #4
    It really is that easy. As for restoring from time machine, I've never done it. No idea how long it will take. As for recommended way of doing things, if it were my drive that failed I'd go get a new one as soon as possible so I wasn't running off my backup drive. The odds of two disks failing are slim, but the odds of it sucking are 100%.

    There are two basic ideas behind backups. Being able to retrieve old copies of files you've deleted(time machine), or being able to easily recover from a catastrophic failure(superduper). Programs like superduper let you easily restore a disk to the state you had it in the last time a backup was done. It's more difficult to recreate a disk with time machine, but you can get old copies of files. There's a lot to be said for using both methods, it will only cost you an extra $100 in disk space.

    It also can't hurt to have offsite backup in case of fire or theft. There are online backup sites, or you could just leave a spare disk somewhere safe.

    Those programs will probably benefit from being run natively, even with a computer as fast as yours. You might want to look into it though, my computers are old and I don't run software like that in windows so I don't have that kind of experience.

    Windows 7 has a backup program like time machine. Norton makes a decent backup program as well. There are programs that backup the windows partition from the mac side. I haven't played with any of them much.
     
  5. blevins321 macrumors 68030

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    Dec 24, 2010
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    #5
    Time Machine restores are wicked fast. I have mine stored on a Synology NAS that can do sustained read speeds of ~70-74 MBps when transmitting a single large file. I recently restored my SSD-equipped iMac over the network with it and it completed in less than 5 minutes. If you're using a USB connection it will be longer than that..but unless you have hundreds of gigabytes (I had about 35), it shouldn't take more than 30 minutes.
     
  6. luigidorf thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 25, 2009
    #6
    So for my 500GB hard drive I would need a 1 TB external drive?

    I guess once I have access to the Windows software (through school) I can download the Parallels free trial and see if it's fast enough. Then I can partition if need be. Do you have the names of any programs that can back up both partitions from the Mac side?

    That's good to hear but I'm more concerned with how easy it is rather than how fast. If it takes a few hours to restore a backup I can just do it over night, but I don't want to have to spend a weekend installing and troubleshooting and reformatting if that can be avoided.
     
  7. Seo macrumors regular

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    Jun 1, 2009
    Location:
    Cupertino, California
    #7
    What about one external drive for a weekly clone, and then Time Machine automatically backing up hourly over LAN or through another external drive. This way you get a bootable (and relatively recent) copy of your boot drive, and then you can use Time Machine to restore to the most recent version. Plus, Time Machine will give you history for all your files, which is helpful if you screw up a file or need someone you deleted.

    Right now this is more or less what I'm doing, plus an online backup through CrashPlan+.
     
  8. jdelgado macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    #8
    I was in a similar situation as you. I have a 2010 i7 MBP and needed to run some windows software that use all CPU available. At first, I went with Bootcamp thinking that I would gain performance, but was inconvenient. I installed a VM and tried the software there. The difference in execution times was negligible for me, so I dumped the Bootcamp partition and continued working with the VM. This simplified backups a lot. You may want to try this solution. There are trial versions of Parallels and Fusion.
    Currently, I keep my windows files "outside" the VM so they are backed-up as regular Mac files. I excluded the VM itself from the regular backups (size), but keep a copy of the VM with the applications I use, just in case I need to restore it.
    Sometime ago, I also used a Windows software called Cobian, that allowed me to backup within the VM to my Mac. I only backed up the documents and not the VM itself. I prefer, however, my current solution, because I do not have to worry about additional windows software.
    For backups, I have two externals (one is a NAS) and one offsite drive. One of the externals is a Mac mini (that the kids use) so that if I have any problem with my MBP, I have somewhere to work.
    As for software, I use Chronosync. I do not have bootable backups, because of the Mac mini). Nevertheless, I have an old drive with a bootable copy of my MBP which I update once in a while, but I do not consider it a backup because I do not do it regularly. I use CCC for this.
     
  9. blevins321 macrumors 68030

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    Dec 24, 2010
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    #9
    It's very simple. If you're doing the whole system restore, you boot using the operating system DVD that comes with the system (or a retail disk if your computer is older). There is a utilities menu with Restore from Time Machine Backup as an option. If the drive is plugged in it appears there already. If it's a NAS, you enter the login information (server is autodetected). Then you just specify destination and let it run its course. No babysitting required :). When it starts back up, it'll be like nothing ever happened.
     
  10. willieva macrumors 6502

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    Mar 12, 2010
    #10
    You'll need 500gb to backup a 500gb drive with cloning software like superduper. For time machine, the size of the disk is dictated by how far back you'd like to be able to retrieve files.

    I don't really know what software to use to backup both partitions.
     
  11. luigidorf thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 25, 2009
    #11
    LAN sounds too complicated especially to set up in a dorm room, and I'd rather keep it to one drive. Time Machine does keep track of file history, but if I'm plugging in a hard drive anyway then why would I use it to backup instead of the other programs that can create bootable clones? Could I partition a single drive into a bootable side (back up with CCC) and a file history side (used with Time Machine)?

    Not clear on why you keep your files outside the VM, or why you don't backup the VM itself. Can you explain?

    But if you use CCC can't you restore just as easily without the backup disk? Looks like the only benefit of Time Machine is the file history component, and you might not use CCC because you don't want two backup programs messing with the same drive. Is that correct?
     
  12. jimleszczynski macrumors regular

    jimleszczynski

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    Jan 19, 2008
    Location:
    Mount Pleasant, MI
    #12
    Currently I am doing that. I have a laCie minimus 2TB that I have dedicated to the machine. Currently I have it split into two partitions. One TB dedicated to Time Machine and the other to general backups and Weekly bootable Disk Image's.

    I have to say though, I am questioning my choice in giving the time machine partition a whole TB. I could be making much better use of that space, simply because time machine will continue to back-up until it eats that whole drive. I'm not happy with that solution.

    For the experienced techies out there... Is it possible to adjust the partition sizes without damaging the drive or damaging time machine? (keep in mind only 2/5th of the time machine partition has been used and 1/10th for the other drive.
     
  13. luigidorf thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 25, 2009
    #13
    Would it make sense to keep a backup of a bootable disk image with no files on it? You could keep it in a smaller size partition on the external drive. Then you could use that image instead of a backup OS disk and restore the rest with Time Machine. Would that work?
     
  14. jimleszczynski macrumors regular

    jimleszczynski

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    #14
    I'm not sure I completely understand your question / solution?
     
  15. jdelgado macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    #15
    The VM files are kept within the VM packages that, in my case, are about 40GB. I currently work with three VMs, so that adds up to 120GB. The files I work with are no more than 200-100 MB. My backups are wireless, so backing up 120GB vs 200 MB makes a lot of difference in the time that takes the backup everything. I have not figured out how to backup only the documents within the VMs from the Mac. I know I can select items within the VMs, but they are still too big.
    Another plus for me for keeping Windows documents in the Mac environment is that I can keep them better organized and living alongside related Mac-documents.
    The VMs contain the system and applications so I just make backups of them every 1-2 months.
    With the above scheme, I only have to deal with Mac-side backups.
    Let me know if you want me to elaborate more.
     
  16. luigidorf thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 25, 2009
    #16
    Gotcha.

    I was thinking it would eliminate the need to keep track of an OS restoration disk and download updates before restoring with Time Machine... but I now realize you'd need to replace the internal drive to restore your files which is a huge benefit of having a bootable partition. Using both CCC and Time Machine does seem like a good option and I can probably afford the disk space to keep a recent bootable image as well as a full Time Machine backup.
     
  17. luigidorf thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 25, 2009
    #17
    I thought I'd revive this thread rather than make a new one as I have a simple question: does Lion's new "Versions" functionality eliminate the need for Time Machine? In terms of browsing previous files, what can Time Machine do that Versions can't?
     
  18. blevins321 macrumors 68030

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    Dec 24, 2010
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    Winnipeg, MB
    #18
    Versions is local drive isn't it? Time Machine is an external backup that protects against internal drive failure.
     
  19. luigidorf thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 25, 2009
    #19
    Yes that's the main difference but I was previously considering using both CCC and Time Machine. With versions it looks like I won't need Time Machine. And the previous versions will be backed up unlike with Time Machine (previous versions stored with Time Machine are only stored in the external HD so if that hard drive fails you lose your previous versions). Is my thinking correct?

    Perhaps Time Machine works with a lot more applications, but I would expect that to change over time.
     

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