It’s funny how many different meanings words can have. A backup could be a person who provides help, musicians who play behind the main person in a band, a traffic jam, or a copy of computer data. If you haven’t already guessed, that last one is what I’m talking about here.
My computer setup: A MacBook Pro plus an external hard drive which holds my image library and completed projects. I also have a Mac Mini which was purchased a couple of years ago when my MacBook Pro was in the shop. I keep it updated enough that I could install my current software and use it as a work machine, but mostly it’s used as a family computer.
This is my backup strategy:
1. Time Machine. Apple’s Time Machine is part of the operating system. Just plug in an external hard drive and the instructions will walk you through set up. Keep the drive plugged in and your files will be backed up every hour. I have separate Time Machine drives for each computer.
2. Bootable clones on external hard drives updated every week or so. I use software called SuperDuper which makes it easy to keep updated clones of my computers on external hard drives. I also use SuperDuper to make two copies of my external “Library” drive.
So far that is one original and two copies of everything. The problem? All of this is in my house. If there was a natural disaster or fire or burglary, I could lose it all.
3. For that reason, I use an online backup service. After investigating several, I signed up with Backblaze a few years ago. My whole computer plus my external “Library” hard drive are continuously backed up via the internet to the Backblaze facility. The initial backup took forever (literally weeks and weeks) but now it only sends new and changed files. I can download files at any time from any computer. If I ever need to get all my files back at once, I can pay to have Backblaze send me a flash drive or hard drive containing everything. Backblaze costs me $50/year per computer. Worth it for the peace of mind.
One important point: all of this is about backup, not archives. Any files that are deleted from my computer will eventually be deleted from my backups (although Time Machine and Backblaze both save old versions for a while).
I thought of this today because it’s the 13th and my “Check your backups” alarm went off on my calendar. Adam Engst wrote a TidBits article suggesting every Friday the 13th as “International Verify Your Backups Day.” I’m just a bit more paranoid. Losing computer data could lead to losing client work and then to losing clients. Having a good backup plan is a good investment.