Trying to prevent a future meltdown - Finding a redundant backup solution.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Nackers, Mar 26, 2014.

  1. Nackers, Mar 26, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014

    Nackers macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    Location:
    Metro Detroit
    #1
    Hey guys! Long time lurker, first time poster. I've done a LOT of research on this and searched through the forums. Some threads dated back a bit, and I figured with my unique situation and previous tech knowledge, some might have some different insight for me.

    So I'm pretty tech savvy, but my knowledge in the Apple department is not booming as my knowledge with Windows based devices. My love for Apple started 2 years ago when I got my first iOS device - the iPhone 4s. I know own a mac mini, iPhone 5s and a iPad Retina. Love them all, and looking to get rid of all my windows based devices.

    But I'm not here for me, I'm here for my girlfriend. So here's the story.

    She has a MacBook Pro 2011 and is a photographer. It is currently bone stock. since buying it, she has kept all data on her Mac as well as backing up all files manually via drag and drop on an external hard drive. Well, she had been saying it's been getting slow and frustrating, so I got her a 250gb SDD and 8gb of ram for Christmas. Well, I still haven't upgraded her because she hasn't given me the time of day (insert sex joke here). Well, as of yesterday, she finally has everything backed up and I'm ready to upgrade her. Now, since her SDD is going to be smaller, I told her she isn't going to be able to keep all her media on her computer all the time, and that she is going to have to be good about doing backups.

    My plan is this. I'm going to take out her hard drive (500gb) and throw it into a USB 3.0 enclosure. She already has a 1tb external as well, so she'll have 2. I told her being a photographer and owning a business meant you needed to have 3 backups of your stuff at all times. However, I'm just trying to get away with 2 for her right now. If I talk about nerdy things for longer than 3 minutes she loses interest and starts picking her nose, so I gotta start small and work my way up.

    Right now, her plan is when she needs to backup, plug in one drive and drag and drop, remove it - plug in the other drive, drag and drop, then call it a day. Well, being a lover of increasing productivity time, I told her that was a waste of time and she will get sick of doing that very, very fast. And in the off chance you forget to backup to one, and that drive goes, you're going to lose your stuff. So, I'm trying to find a backup solution for her that is simple and redundant. I'm not worried about off site backup at the moment, because she leaves one drive at home and one drive at work. I'll set her up with CrashPlan or something later on. One article I found online showed a photographer had two portable external hard drives rubber banded together, he would plug then in at the same time, and he ran some type of command to backup her things to both drives at the same time - so that the drives were identical.

    So I started looking for options. At my house, I use a 8 bay Drobo Pro to backup my media server. I automate backups with SyncToy. Every night at 3am, SyncToy runs and backups all my drives to the drobo. When a drive in drobo dies, I just replace it - it rebuilds the array and it's done. Simple and awesome. However, that is a Windows based machine.

    Although I love my Drobo, I have read a lot of bad things about catastrophic failure, and people losing a lot of data when the unit fails. That can't happen. So I'm ruling out drobo. For my media center, I know it's not a huge deal because if the drobo dies, there is nothing on the drobo that I don't have on the server. However, since my girlfriend will only have things in one place on the drobo, that cant work. Now, I have read much better things about Synology - but i run into the same issue. What if that single device with multiple drives dies and she loses everything. That would suck.

    Now TimeMachine and Time Capsusles are another option. I've read in a few places that you can attach an external hard drive to a time capsule and create a redundant backup. However, I have not read reviews on how well this works. so i'm a little weary about it. I've always wanted to try a Time Capsule, but never have.

    So what do you guys think? I would greatly appreciate some advice. The idea in my head that I have right now is for her to have 2 separate external hard drives, and be able to plug them both in, and run a program like SyncToy that can just take all the content in the folders you specify and move them to both externals. For those who don't know how SyncToy for windows works, it basically a tool that says "Tell me what you want to copy off drive A, and I'll move it to drive B". As you can see here, I have a 'folder pair' assigned for each hard drive. So I have folder A, B and C on my server, and I created folder A, B and C on the drobo. Whatever content is on the abc folders on the left is put into the abc folder on the right. Super easy and simple and I love it.

    [​IMG]

    So basically how I'd like this to work is if she plugged in both hard drives, I could just say "Mac, take everything in her user folder off C: drive and put it in Backup Folder on drive 1 and on Drive 2". Is there something like SyncToy for the mac? I came across an app called Super Duper that looks like it does the same thing, but I just found it and haven't read much about it. So should I have her drop some money on a dual bay synology NAS with RAID capabilities? So if a drive dies I can just swap it out? And maybe get a 3tb external with auto backup as a secondary backup? Maybe have the 3tb Western Digital be a Time Machine backup that backs up wirelessly...Maybe i'll get her a Time Capsule for her birthday since she needs a new router soon anyways.

    I'm just mainly concerned about her pictures. Although she has some music, she streams all media from my home server. And it's gotta be automated because she'll forget to backup.

    So after the upgrade, she'll have a MacBook Pro with 250gb SSD. She'll have 1 external hard drive that is 500gb, and her new external she just bought that is 1tb. If i find her a better solution I'll just buy it off her.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #2
    From what I can gather from your long post is that your girlfriend needs a backup policy, but one that she can do fairly easily

    I recommend that you use an external drive and TimeMachine, that allows automatic backups on an hourly basis, its a no fuss, not worry set up.

    You can then also get a second external drive and use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the drive. You can either take this offsite (if you purchased a portable hard external hard drive) or take a second backup using a portable external drive.

    Here's what I do
    I have Time Machine on my DAS (Drobo Mini). I also take an image of my rMBP using CCC. Then once a month or there abouts, I use CCC on a portable hard drive that I take off site. I'm happy with this situation and it works for me.

    You can also look at those online backup services to fill out your TimeMachine backup strategy
     
  3. Nackers thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    Location:
    Metro Detroit
    #3
    Exactly. Sorry it was so lengthy :)

    I appreciate your input! I want to learn how to use Time Machine. I need to get a Mac for myself (the one I have is at work) So I can mess around with this stuff.
     
  4. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #4
    Time Machine
    Step 1. Plug external drive into Mac
    Step 2. Partition/Format to HFS+
    Step 3. within the System preferences, point TimeMachine to the external drive.

    Done.

    you can select what folders you want to exclude but its extremely simple to setup
     
  5. chaines macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2009
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC
    #5
    Time Machine is your best bet my friend.

    I have been using Time Machine ever since it came out. I have upgraded my hard drive in my iMac and I used Time Machine to restore it. I swear that it was the most painless restoration ever! I just booted the machine off the DVD, and when it got to the menu I told it to restore from a Time Machine backup and a few hours later - done! It booted from the new hard drive, and it was as if nothing had ever happened.

    In order to use time machine, plug in the external hard drive or use a network drive. I personally us a Time Capsule myself. Then go into system preferences and select Time Machine. The turn on time machine and it will ask you where you want to put the backup and then it just runs. I would leave the computer on until it finishes for the first time, then after that you just forget about it and it just runs in the back round and you never have to think about it again. I recommend that you get a external that is at least twice the size of your HD. Time Machine is totally automatic and honestly you never ever have to think about it ever again.

    For a laptop I would recommend getting a Time Capsule or some other network attached storage so that you don't have to remember plug in the external hard drive all the time.

    Let us know how you make out.
     
  6. Nackers thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    Location:
    Metro Detroit
    #6
    Awesome. Sounds easy enough. Now the only issue that I foresee is that she isn't going to have it plugged in all the time. It's most likely going to be a 'plug in when I'm ready to backup'. Once the drive is plugged in, will it pick up where it left off? She takes her MBP to and from work every day.
     
  7. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #7
    For my home Mac, I use a combination of a Time Capsule and an portable 1TB USB 3 Seagate drive.

    As long as I'm in my house, Time Machine automatically backs my Mac up (via Wi-Fi) to the Time Capsule.

    In case of a catastrophic failure of the Time Capsule (HDD failing, house burning down, someone stealing all of the electronic in the house, etc), I also use Time Machine to backup to a portable 1TB USB 3 Seagate drive. I store this drive at my desk at work, and I bring it home whenever my home Mac reminds me that it's been awhile since the last backup. I just plug it directly into my Mac and Time Machine automatically updates everything. The next morning, I take it back to work. Time Machine lets you encrypt the backups, so if this portable drive gets lost somehow, people can reformat and use it, but they can't access the backed up data.

    The main reason that I like Time Machine backups is because they do versioning. For example, if I unknowingly wipe a file out of my Documents folder today, but don't notice that file's gone until a month from now, Time Machine will still have the file backed up, and I can recover it. Backups that are based off of "syncs" don't usually protect against accidental deletes and modifications.
     
  8. Nackers thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    Location:
    Metro Detroit
    #8
    Yeah I would love for her not to have to plug in to backup all the time. The other issue is this: Lets say she takes pictures on monday, and Time Machine backs them up on monday night. Come tuesdsay, lets say she deletes all those pictures from her MacBook. Will the Time Machine replicate that and remove them as well? I'm trying to get her in the habit of

    1. Moving pictures from SD card to Mac
    2. Editing pictures
    3. Backing them up
    4. Remove all pictures from Mac (since space with SDD is constricted)

    Then if she ever needs to go back and look at old projects, she can.
     
  9. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #9
    That's why I go with a Time Capsule, ... I don't have to remember to plug it in. As soon as my Mac hits my Wi-Fi network at home, it'll automatically backup.

    For Time Machine backups to externals, it works like you've described. Once the drive is plugged int, it will pick up where it left off. :)
     
  10. Nackers thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    Location:
    Metro Detroit
    #10
    AHHHH okay. This would be an ideal solution... So have a Time Capsule at home, and then keep her 1tb portable at work and maybe to a bi-weekly backup with that. That's a good plan! Thank you for the input. You guys are awesome.

    Edit:

    Hmmmm. I like the way this sounds. Thank you!
     
  11. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #11
    Time Machine doesn't directly replicate deletions. If files were backed upon Monday night and then deleted on Tuesday, the files from Monday night should remain on the Time Machine backup.

    However, at some point, the drive used for Time Machine backup will inevitably fill up. When this happens, Time Machine will notify the user and prompt for permission to make room for new backups by purging old backups. So it is possible for that those filed backed up Monday night may be deleted later down the road. Personally, I haven't filled up my 3TB Time Capsule yet, so I can restore files from backups going back to three years ago. Folks with a lot more files than me won't have as long of a backup history.

    Personally, I use a second external portable USB drive to archive my old stuff. Whenever my MacBook Air starts to get full, I just plug it in and move some stuff over. The nice thing about Time Machine is that it automatically will backup this drive too (as long as it's plugged in), so I know my data is protected, even though it's not directly on my Mac any more. I only use this archive drive once or twice a month (if that), so it's not much of a hassle. I like knowing that my old projects and stuff are there, if I need them, but not taking up any extra room on my Air.
     
  12. r0k, Mar 26, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014

    r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #12
    In my area, the power grid is fairly poor. This has lead to replacement of a large number of gadgets and battery backed power supplies so when I see you are also in the Detroit area, I suggest a 2 tier backup strategy. First tier, as already discussed is a Time Machine backup to a USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt drive.

    Learning Time Machine is a non event. It's very simple. You simply connect the drive you want to use and enable Time Machine. Done.

    A second tier I suggest is software like Crashplan. Crashplan free version allows you to backup to a friend's computer. Paid version allows backup to Crashplan's server. If you have Time Machine and Crashplan (free or paid) in place, you should never have to worry about losing data.

    Learning Crashplan is a little more involved, but not much. Because you're backing up over the network and therefore using bandwidth, I suggest backing up only selected folders such as her Documents folder. This is how I got my wife's files back after I accidentally wiped her Macintosh HD trying to install Lion. The Time Machine backup was "corrupted" and if it weren't for Crashplan, she would have had nothing.
     
  13. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #13
    Do you need another second on the Time Capsule recommendation? You'll get one from me.

    My partner (a writer) used a MBP and now an Air. I had her outfitted with portable drives, but she used them sporadically because, being a 100% laptop user, she would be working in different parts of the house.

    Then came the Time Capsule. Problem solved. She needs to make no accomodation whatsoever (as long as she's in the house, of course).

    For her (and for storage requirements appropriate to an Air) it's a great solution. With 3 TB and only a 256 gb Air backing up to it . . . it's going to be a long time before TM starts throwing out backups.

    We also have a NAS and she (and I) put stuff there as appropriate.
     
  14. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #14
    As mentioned, Time Machine for local backup.

    A professional might consider a service such as backblaze for remote backup.
     
  15. Nackers thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    Location:
    Metro Detroit
    #15
    HHHmmmmm. Okay - I really like the idea of the time capsule. Not only does it eliminate the need for her to plug in her computer often, it solves her 'needing a new router' issue. The only problem I see is what the process is if she needs to retrieve old files. When you say 'restore from backup' is like similar to iPhones restoring where it has to power down and reboot and restore? Because that would be cumbersome.

    I would say that is would be a good option if she had more space on her MacBook. But the reality is after a month, she's going to have to remove all the pictures and put them elsewhere. Instead of her situation being 'all the files on the mac are all on the time capsule' it's 'only files from the current month are on the mac, and everything else is on the time capsule.'

    I think I'm just a little fuzzy on how it functions. Because down the road I'd hate for her to call me and say 'half of my pictures are gone because I clicked something' hahahah. I'm having trouble tying to explain what i mean.

    HHAhahah - we do have a lot of power outages thats for sure. I like the idea of CrashPlan, I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with that. Glad it saved you!

    Thank you for telling your story! I appreciate the extra advice.

    Will also check out BackBlaze. Thank you!
     
  16. Nackers thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    Location:
    Metro Detroit
    #16
    This is what I was trying to explain earlier. [​IMG]

    And when she does back to retrieve them, is she going to see all of her photo's in one folder? Or is she only going to see event a and b in one instance of the time machine, and then if you go farther back 1 instance you'll see c and d. I don't think that is going to work for her.

    If I hook up the time machine, can I set it just to sync a single folder? Instead of just backing up an entire bootable image of her mac and all it's content?
     
  17. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #17
    Time Machine backup prevents accidental deletions.

    If you don't know how it works, click on "Restoring data from Time Machine backups" here:
    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1427

    You do NOT have to use the file system, as you can use Spotlight search to find the folder.

    If you want to offload files (to an external drive for example), you want the Time Machine to also backup that drive.
     

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