Please help me find a backup solution

Handle

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 16, 2013
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Up until now I have only used thumbdrives for backing up important files.

Currently I have a 2009 24" iMac that served me well but is getting old, so I will be getting a new iMac when they come out.

The entire 640GB hard drive only has 51GB of data including programs, files, music, and pictures. As you can see, I don't use much data.

I would like to start backing up this machine, I believe that Time Machine would be a good choice for me because it seems pretty seamless and I like the way it will put everything back together just the way I had it if something ever goes wrong (kinda like iTunes does with the iPhone or iPad).

So basically, all I need is a 100GB or larger external USB hard drive? That's it, just turn on Time Machine and let it do it's business? Then when I get my new iMac I can just plug it in and let Time Machine restore it with all the old data and settings as the old iMac?

My other question is what about using a cloud based backup? Since I only have 50 gigs of data and I have a very fast FIOS 50/25mbps connection, it seems like offsite backup would work. But I am sure there are downfalls to that too.
 

McGiord

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2003
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Dark Castle
For local HDD back ups there are plenty of affordable solutions for 1TB, 2TB, 3TB or even 4TB.

It narrows down to your preferences:
1) what is the interface connection you want to use for the old and new Mac:
USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt or Thundelbolt 2
3) Desktop or Portable
3) Optional Wireless personal cloud
4) Price

Time Machine only is not a good idea. Do perform a Time Machine Backup but also have some other back ups, Cloning the drive plus another one (a back up of the back up)

I personally like the Western Digital Brand:
WD Desktop

WD Portables

WD MyCloud

I have a MacBook Pro with a 256GB SSD and 1 TB for data.
I clone both drives to equivalent HDDs.
Plus a Time Machine to a 4TB MyCloud. I am going to buy another 4TB to have a backup of the MyCloud.

For cloning you can use Disk Utility, or any of these:
How to do back ups

Other external drives you can find here:
http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firewire/
 

Weaselboy

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Jan 23, 2005
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Just grab one of these WD drives and away you go. Just plug it in and Time Machine will prompt you to format the drive and begin backups.

Like you said, you could also use one of the online backup solutions like Crashplan, but IMO that should be your second backup and not your primary.

If you ever have a drive crash it is much easier to restore everything from a local Time Machine backup.
 

Boyd01

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Just grab one of these WD drives and away you go.
I have one of these myself, I use it with CCC to clone the 512gb SSD in my MBA. Seemed to be the best mix of cost, size and speed - it clocks a little over 100MB/s which is not bad for a bus-powered drive. In a pinch, I could boot my MBA from it. Would also work fine with Time Machine of course, but that wouldn't be bootable.

You are right about migrating to a new computer. Just plug in your time machine disk during setup and it's all taken care of. Works really well too, you should have all your same settings, even the arrangement of icons on your desktop.
 

Handle

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 16, 2013
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I just ordered that drive from Amazon, thanks guys.

I don't know if cloning is right for me. If something ever happens and I need to restore, I will buy a brand new iMac so Time Machine will do that for me, right?

I figure if I run Time Machine full time and also copy important files to thumbdrives and online backups, I should be safe. Yes no?
 

Weaselboy

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Jan 23, 2005
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I just ordered that drive from Amazon, thanks guys.

I don't know if cloning is right for me. If something ever happens and I need to restore, I will buy a brand new iMac so Time Machine will do that for me, right?

I figure if I run Time Machine full time and also copy important files to thumbdrives and online backups, I should be safe. Yes no?
Yes... if you have a TM backup and your drive dies you can replace the drive and option key boot to the TM drive and format the new disk and restore everything back to the new drive very easily and be back up and running.

If you don't want to pay for a full online backup you can get by using a TM local backup disk then backing up important things to a free service like Dropbox if you like.
 

McGiord

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2003
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The thing for cloning the drive is to have a bootable backup that you can use to boot your Mac and continue working. Time Machine is not as reliable as many think, so I don't recommend it as the only back up solution.
Cloning is similar to what you are doing of complying files to a flash drive but at a larger scale, just cloning the whole HDD, takes longer but it is worth it.
As you can test the clone by booting with it and be sure it actually works.
And for migrating your data and apps to a new Mac, you can always connect the two Macs to each other as well as the HDD you are planing to use (clone or TimeMachine), when setting up the new Mac you can do it right way or after booting the first time App already installed in your Mac called Migration Assistant.
 

glenthompson

macrumors 68020
Apr 27, 2011
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I go overboard by having multiple CCC cloned drives, 2 time machine destinations, and Crashplan. It's rather important as I've digitized most of my life. All my pictures, documents, etc are stored on the computer so I need good backup and recovery.

At the very least I recommend 2 rotating time machine backups. Use one for a week then switch. Keep the other off-site if possible or in a secure, fire-resistant location. I have a fire-file at home for drives not currently in use.
 

MrX8503

macrumors 68020
Sep 19, 2010
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The bigger your time machine drive, the farther back in time you can go. So even though you're only using 50GB of data, you want a drive much larger than that. All you do is plug in your USB3 HDD and start the TM backup and its all automatic. The initial will be very slow, but all backups thereafter will be quick because it only back ups changes.

With a TM backup you can restore your entire computer or individual files. When you get your new mac, there's no need to use the TM backup to transfer files. You can connect both macs to gigabit ethernet and transfer files via Migration assistant over the network.

I personally don't use cloud services for backup mainly due to speed and privacy. IMO, a TM is enough considering you have 2 copies of your data, the one in your Mac and the external.
 

SVTmaniac

macrumors 6502
Jan 30, 2013
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The bigger your time machine drive, the farther back in time you can go. So even though you're only using 50GB of data, you want a drive much larger than that. All you do is plug in your USB3 HDD and start the TM backup and its all automatic. The initial will be very slow, but all backups thereafter will be quick because it only back ups changes.

With a TM backup you can restore your entire computer or individual files. When you get your new mac, there's no need to use the TM backup to transfer files. You can connect both macs to gigabit ethernet and transfer files via Migration assistant over the network.

I personally don't use cloud services for backup mainly due to speed and privacy. IMO, a TM is enough considering you have 2 copies of your data, the one in your Mac and the external.
I agree that for local backup an external drive that backs up to a Time Capsule is a great solution and it's how I do it. The only thing that scares me is if my house burns down or gets broken in to then most likely all the data will be gone assuming the robber steals everything off the computer desk. And of course in the case of a fire everything would be toast... literally.

I would love to back some of my important stuff up to cloud storage for that reason, but I haven't looked into it much yet.
 

Handle

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 16, 2013
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The truth is that I really don't have that much important stuff on my computer. My QUickBooks file for my business is the most important thing, but I save that to a couple thumbdrives weekly. And as of yesterday I started using my Google Drive account so I will be uploading the QuickBooks backup even more often.

I've got all my pictures backed up on either DVDs or thumbdrives. Any new pics are still on my phone or camera so I wouldn't lose anything.

I think the Time Machine backup will work well for me in addition to what I currently do.

I assume I will just plug in the external drive and leave it plugged in full time? Then Time Machine will do it's work when the iMac is idle? My iMac goes to sleep pretty quickly, will Time Machine work then or should I change the sleep settings?
 

Weaselboy

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I assume I will just plug in the external drive and leave it plugged in full time? Then Time Machine will do it's work when the iMac is idle? My iMac goes to sleep pretty quickly, will Time Machine work then or should I change the sleep settings?
Yep... just plug it in and you will be asked to format the drive then just leave it.

It will run every hour (idle or not) and will not run when asleep unless you have a newer iMac from this list that supports Powernap.

After the initial backup it is pretty transparent.
 

Boyd01

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Until recently, I just used two external drives that I rotated for time machine backups. Then I got a Time Capsule and now I just use one external drive that I store off-site for time machine. But I also recently started making a bootable clone on another drive, so I could be up and running quickly if I had a drive failure.

Cloud backup is not a very good option for me (although I use iCloud), I live in a remote location where my only internet connection option is slow Verizon DSL.

Unlike the OP, I have lots of valuable data on my computer, going all the way back to 1985 when I got my first "Fat Mac" 512k. :)
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
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The OP wrote:
[[ The truth is that I really don't have that much important stuff on my computer. My QUickBooks file for my business is the most important thing, but I save that to a couple thumbdrives weekly. ]]

I think you'd be far better served with a CarbonCopyCloner "cloned backup" than you will be with only a TM backup. Here's why:

As you said, the iMac you have is getting a little long in the tooth. That means the internal drive is old. The older it gets, the closer to a point of failure. This doesn't mean it's going to fail in a week, a month, or six months. But age -is- a consideration.

When it -does- fail, you're going to have an iMac that won't boot.

At this point, if you have a CCC cloned backup at-hand, it's only a matter of plugging it in and booting from it -- and you'll be "right back where you were before" prior to the failure (or, more correctly, where you were at the point of the last incremental CCC backup). You can keep using the iMac, even with a failed internal drive, while you determine what to do next.

Now -- this is what could happen with only a TM backup:
- The internal hard drive fails
- You may be able to boot to the recovery partition on the TM backup, BUT -- where are you going to "restore" -TO- ??? After all, the internal drive may have suffered a hardware failure.
- You'll be "dead in the water" until you replace the internal drive, or until you get ANOTHER external drive, and restore onto that -- which will produce, essentially, the same thing as you would already have with a CCC cloned backup drive.

Also -- the cloned backup is just as easy to "migrate" from as a TM backup, when you do get the new iMac...
 

Handle

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 16, 2013
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Fishrrman, I see what you are saying and it does make sense.

The thing is that I don't have any mission critical work that I do.

If my iMac crashed right now, it would give me a reason to go to the Apple store and buy a new one :D

I could use my iPhone or iPad to see my schedule, notes, and e-mail in the meantime.

Once I have the new one, I have the choice of either:

A) Restoring it with Time Machine so it's like my old iMac or
B) Keeping it as a new installation and just dragging over my important files from the thumbdrives or Google Drive.

Truth be told, I may go with the second options since I like things to be fresh and clean and without extra stuff that I don't use.
 

Ifti

macrumors 68020
Dec 14, 2010
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I keep a SuperDuper clone of all my systems on one external HDD (partitioned). This is updated every few months of after any major changes.

I then keep more regular Time Machine Backups to my local Time Capsule.

I should have an offsite backup really - may use my Synology NAS as an offsite backup, since its currently sitting doing nothing!
 

hfg

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Dec 1, 2006
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Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) can do an "incremental" clone which, once the first image is saved, is quite fast. It also has a scheduler so you can automate at whatever frequency you desire: hourly, daily, weekly, etc. The clone disks are bootable if necessary, and CCC will create a restore partition if your original disk has one.

This should be supplemented with a TimeMachine "historical" backup which allows you to go back to previous versions of any file which you may have altered or deleted. A TimeMachine backup disk should probably be 1.5 to 2x the size of your main storage to allow adequate history to be maintained.



I use CCC to make a daily clone of my main system boot drive (1TB SSD RAID-0), along with TimeMachine hourly historical backups alternating between an internal disk drive, a directly attached RAID-5 system, and a remote Synology NAS in the basement. I also create periodic system clones to external portable drives which I rotate. I do, however, lack a true "offsite" automatic backup which I am looking into solving.
 

Boyd01

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Truth be told, I may go with the second options since I like things to be fresh and clean and without extra stuff that I don't use.
A clone would be fine for that - it's exactly like the internal drive and you can simply drag the things you want to the new machine. The schedule feature can keep your clone up to date and you can even have it save old versions of files. And you would have the ability to boot from it if you need. I know you don't think you would need that, but it could save a lot of grief if you were in the middle of something when you drive failed. You could be back up and running in a couple minutes with a clone.

OTOH, Time Machine is free and you have to buy Carbon Copy. And Time Machine will transfer all your settings/preferences to a new machine (but you say you don't want that).

Really though, when you start from the premise of "I really don't have that much important stuff on my computer", then almost any backup scheme would be fine. :D
 

Handle

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 16, 2013
143
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Really though, when you start from the premise of "I really don't have that much important stuff on my computer", then almost any backup scheme would be fine. :D
Yeah, that is very true :D

But I learned a lot from this thread and I'm sure others will too. :)
 

innominato5090

macrumors 6502
Sep 4, 2009
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My setup: local backup with time machine, offsite backup on S3 using Arq 4.

I can't stress enough the importance of using 2 backup methods.
 

deeddawg

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Jun 14, 2010
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Some good responses but a couple of things were mentioned but not really addressed.

First, everyone's needs are different. For some it would be a disaster to be down for more than a couple hours, especially if those who make their living from your computer. Other people's usage isn't so mission critical and if their computer is down for a couple days it's no big deal. These situations dictate different backup strategies; the former definitely needs to layer a bootable clone into the mix whereas the latter would likely be fine with a TM backup.

Data backup and disaster recovery are two different things. Recovering from failed hardware is one scenario. Also need to address file recovery, especially in the scenario where you find a file is corrupted and you need to go back to a version from weeks or months ago. (This is where TM with a large drive shines, I think CCC also does something similar but I'm unsure)

Offsite backup is important, but IMHO better addresses the "someone stole all my stuff" scenario than the failed-drive scenario. Fires, floods, theives, etc. can wreck local backup schemes. The real question is whether you can effectively keep a drive offsite (be honest about how often you'll update it) or if an online solution such as Crashplan would be better.
 

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