The Logic of backup strategy...

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by iondot, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. iondot macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2008
    A couple times a year I hear from a friend, or client, or relative, that they have lost all their photos, or music, or everything because of a hard drive failure.

    I can't think of a case where any of these people ever had a back-up. I understand the value and importance of backing up and I often find myself encouraging people to employ some sort of back up system. Especially with my clients, who I often end up talking about cameras and picture storage, I find that nine out of ten people don't back up at all.

    Tales of hard drive failure are comparatively rare. In my own experience, over the past twenty years, I have had one internal hard drive failure back in 1995 in a Mac 660av. It suffered some sort of mechanical failure and I had the drive replaced and reinstalled what I had backed up from a few dozen floppy disks!

    So all of this brings me around to a question about backups. How common are failures? The way people talk about RAID 1, RAID 0 and back-up strategy, suggests that these sorts of failures are somewhat more common than I have experienced.

    Does it make more sense to spend days planning a back-up strategy, or a day or two restoring if a failure comes? I'm wondering what strategy ends up saving the most time in the end.
  2. bobr1952 macrumors 68020


    Jan 21, 2008
    Melbourne, FL
    The whole purpose of Time Machine is to help people without a strategy. Hook up a hard drive, leave it on auto, and just let it go and ignore it unless you need it.
  3. torid110 macrumors regular

    Jan 22, 2006
    Jersey City, NJ
    Then this leads to the discussion the OP mentioned regarding disk protection schemes. What happens when the hard drive you hooked up to use time machine on fails ? If you wanted to be truly protected, you'd need to guard against hardware failures on that front which is where RAID would come in (except RAID 0, which offers no protection).

    Now at this point you'd have to step back and examine whether or not all the expense of multiple disks, etc. are worth the aggravation of losing your data.
  4. cnstoll macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2010
    To me it's the "losing all your data" part that is worrisome, not a day or two of down time. To those of us with years worth of irreplaceable work saved on our computers it's worth the effort to develop a good strategy for backups.

    A good backup strategy should be two things: safe and simple. For a lot of people that means Time Machine. It doesn't really get much simpler than that.

    For me, I prefer SuperDuper! to Time Machine. I keep all of my data on a mirrored RAID volume, and have it synchronize to a SuperDuper! external volume every so often.

    There's two main types of RAID: mirror (1) and stripe (0). Stripe has no redundancy, so it's obviously not meant for backup, but neither is mirror as it turns out. Mirror RAID only protects against drive failure, not data corruption. So that's why it's still important to have another backup as either a direct copy (SuperDuper!) or a versioned backup (Time Machine).

    You can make your solution even safer by incorporating a second backup volume that you rotate back and forth to an off site location.

    So really, backup solutions don't need to be complicated. Turning on Time Machine is easy, and setting up an automatic SuperDuper! backup is almost as easy. Building a mirrored RAID array is a bit trickier, but it's also not required. The hardest part is realizing that it's important to backup your data, and going out to spend that extra 200 dollars on a drive to do it.
  5. bobr1952 macrumors 68020


    Jan 21, 2008
    Melbourne, FL
    True--but of course the chances of both your hard drive and external drive failing at once is somewhat remote. Regardless, my point was that this is a great strategy for those with no strategy. :)
  6. MT0227 macrumors 6502

    Jun 16, 2009
    I have two HDs that I use to back up irreplaceable files, installed applications and personal settings; one is portable, one is not portable. I do not use Time Machine..not a fan, I prefer Carbon Copy Cloner instead. I back up to the stationary HD using CCC; once verified and tested as a bootable image, I copy that image to the portable HD and verify that one as well. Both HDs each contain the last backup I have performed; the portable HD travels with me in case anything were to happen to my house (G-d forbid). I perform a backup about once per month or when I get nervous that I have a significant amount of files that are not archived safely.

    If my HD crashes, I'd install a new HD and refer to step 4 in the following link to restore.
  7. MT0227 macrumors 6502

    Jun 16, 2009
    Exactly! Unfortunately for a vast majority, realizing the extra $200 is well spent comes after the loss of many, if not all, of their priceless photos and important documents. A simple and more importantly, disciplined approach, is critical to keeping your prized files safe and secure as possible.
  8. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I get the same sob-stories occasionally from friends and family as well... "My PC died and I lost all my stuff!".

    I say, ok, well now's the time to get a Macbook and a Time Capsule so this doesn't happen to you in the future.

    Apple's Time Machine and Time Capsule products couldn't make the job of doing backups easier, especially for laptop users who rely exclusively on wireless. It's really one of the most understated advantages to the Mac ecosystem. Nothing else as simple or elegant exists on the Windows side. You flip one switch and forget about it! The added side benefit of being able to migrate all your apps/settings to a new Mac whenever you upgrade is also only a figment of someone's imagination on the PC. :)
  9. dknightd macrumors 6502

    Mar 7, 2004
    If you don't have a backup strategy, then you do not have to worry about having to restore WHEN a failure comes. I've found that people who have backups are less likely to have failures - I think Murphy has something to do with that.

    The backup strategy really depends on how fast you want to be back up, how much data you can stand to loose, and how redundant you want to be.

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