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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Backups, Backups, Backups.


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McBie

 
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THIS THREAD IS OLD. NEW THREAD HERE:
Official Backup FAQ or Start Backing Up Now!




-------------------------------


“Once damage is done to the files on your computer, no matter what the cause, it's often too late.
A comprehensive backup strategy is a vital component in your IT arsenal.“


The objective of this post is to increase the awareness of - and provide guidance to - having reliable backups of your files.
It should not be viewed as a product manual.


Think first !
Before diving into the detail of backup tools, take a step back and think about what it is that you are trying to achieve.
Ask yourself the following questions:

1) How long can you survive without your files?
How important is your data?
Is your computer part of a revenue generating process or not…. in other words, is your computer a tool or a toy?


2) How much data can you afford to loose?
How frequently does your data change and do you need to keep a history of all these changes?

3) How much effort and money are you willing to invest to re-create lost or corrupt data?
Recovering from a loss of data is going to take time and depending on your approach towards backup, it will also cost money.

Based on the answers, you can now define a backup strategy and start considering the process and the tools.


The process.
Let me start by saying that the process is more important than tools… “A fool with a tool is still a fool.“

Having a backup strategy will only help if: a) you execute the strategy and b) the restore process works.

Checking your backup logs and testing the reliability of your backups is equally important as making the backups.

Review your backup strategy from time to time... There is nothing worse than to start storing files in a folder you have excluded from your backup only to find out you need those files after you deleted them.

Don’t forget that the ‘trash‘ is part of your recovery process.

Virtual Machines ( VM ) require some extra thinking. They usually are 1 single large file, several gigabytes, and that file changes as soon as you launch your virtual machine, thus making it a candidate for your next backup run. You can exclude the folder where the VM resides from your backup, but then you are excluding all documents inside the VM as well.

Files stored on the BootCamp partition will require a Windows based application to back up files inside that Windows environment and you will need a backup disk (or a partition on a disk) that is suitable for Windows.


You need tools !
Depending on the backup strategy and the process you have defined, making a backup can be as simple as drag & drop using finder, or it can be performed using slightly more sophisticated tools.

On the forum, you will come across the 3 most popular tools for the backup of your data:
Time Machine ( TM ),
SuperDuper! ( SD! ) and
Carbon Copy Cloner ( CCC )
All 3 of them basically perform the same task and they each have their own features to make life easier... or not.
As I said in the beginning, this post is not a product manual so I will only highlight a few features.

TM is an Apple product that comes with Leopard and SnowLeopard, allowing you to make hourly backups of your internal disk onto an external disk. Essentially it will make snapshots of your files, creating a history of a specific file / folder. One thing to remember is that you can not boot from a TM backup disk, so you need to restore your OS first and then recover files from your TM backup.

A great feature of TM is the combination with Time Capsule, providing wireless backup, no hassle with cables.

SD! and CCC provide you with the possibility to create a ‘bootable‘ image of your disk at a specific point in time. The big advantage here is that you can use this external image as a startup disk, allowing you to be back up and running in a matter of minutes, at that point in time when your last image was taken.

SD! and CCC also have the capability to perform scheduled backups as well, similar to TM, a bit more hassle, but equally good.


One tool fits all ?
Maybe.

SD! and CCC get you back in business within minutes with a known amount of data loss... that is those files that were changed since your last backup.
TM will ensure that you don’t loose more than 1 hour worth of data, but you’ll loose time installing your OS first.

You'll find many on the forum that use a combination of TM and SD! or CCC.


Where do I store my backups ?
To make a long story short, you do not store your backups in the same room as your computer, preferably not in the same house.

I am not suggesting you go off and sign a contract with a professional company to store your backups in a secure environment.
It all depends on the value of your data.


RAID levels.
RAID levels are not a substitute for having backups on external devices, it was never designed to do that anyway. RAID provides your system with extra resilience against hardware failures, increasing the availability time of your data …. within limits.

Always remember that no matter what RAID solution you have in place, RAID will happily synchronise any change of data across it’s disks …. within seconds.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for a RAID environment, it just isn’t a backup solution …. and don’t let RAID 0 ( Zero ) fool you either in terms of resilience.



Needless to say that prior to making major changes to your system, you should make a backup.
Plan for problems before they happen, test your ability to restore data before you actually are forced to and ….. keep a copy of your backup program somewhere safe, including any license key’s.

One thing is certain …. Failing backups = Double Trouble

Cheers … McBie

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+1 for starting this thread. Nice overview.

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Very nice article.
A couple of links to SD, CCC and TM would be nice. As well at to the official pages that explain what each of these are and what they do. And them the people have a way to get these if they want them and start backing up their data.

But apart from that I see no major issues with the article. Well written.
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+1 virtual rep mate. Well written piece of literature. Clear, concise and easy to understand. About time you did it now no need to link to old thread

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I was wondering where this sticky was!
Nice one Mcbie
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I have had my iMac 6 months now and just decided to hook up the "My Book Mac Edition" external hard drive that I bought with it. I plugged it in and it asked if I wanted to use Time Machine and I clicked yes.

Today I am looking at what was copied onto the external drive and am trying to find all my photos and music files. Considering I do tend to miss things right under my nose, they may be there. But I couldn't find them. When I tried to open the file iphoto, I was told I couldn't because it was part of time machine.

So my questions are (1) are my photos and music on the external drive and (2) how do I access them?

If there is a thread with those answers, does anyone have a link?

Thanks.
oldfella

 
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I am new at this... and am still "chewing" on this:

"To make a long story short, you do not store your backups in the same room as your computer, preferably not in the same house."

I've been thinking on getting an external hard drive for backups, but if not in the same room or house, where do I keep it?

Pete (The Oldfella)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldfella View Post
I am new at this... and am still "chewing" on this:

"To make a long story short, you do not store your backups in the same room as your computer, preferably not in the same house."

I've been thinking on getting an external hard drive for backups, but if not in the same room or house, where do I keep it?

Pete (The Oldfella)
Oldfella,

I think that the suggestion to not store your backup in the same house is a bit extreme (at least for the average computer user)!

If you're looking for the ULTIMATE in safety & security for your backup...yes storing the backup somewhere else other than in your home makes sense...but only if you have some sort of files that are SUPER SUPER important.

Business's & corporations have very very important files (employee records, financial records, product formulation's, etc.) that should definitely be backed up & stored at a different location.

For individuals...sure if something catastrophic were to occur to someones home (a fire, flood, hurricane, etc.)...then your home may not be the best place for a backup.

But I think for most of us...storing our backups in our house is fine. Like "McBie" mentions above...it all depends on the value of your data.

- Nick

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Thanks Pigoo3 - My Mac has a "1 TB" hard drive, and I read some place that the back-up drive should be at least as large as your internal drive - the kicker here is that I seriously doubt if I will ever use one fourth of my HD, would it be prudent to buy one of 500GB? I'm thinking of the LaCie 2d Quadra. Thanks.

Pete (The Oldfella)
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I ended up with programs with the latest Macheist and Macupdate promos that turn out to be pretty good.

Back In Time - extends your time machine backup.
Back-In-Time (vs Time Machine)

Forever Save - because sometimes every hour isn't enough
Tool Force Software | ForeverSave

Another thought on RAID 5 - get multiple disks. Every Month - swap out the disks - one at a time and rebuild the data. Keep the backup offsite in a safe deposit box.

Also there are consumer class offsite backups available. Mozy and Carbonite seem to be the most popular.
Carbonite Vs. Mozy: Results of Side-by-side Test
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsharma72 View Post
A couple of links to SD, CCC and TM would be nice. As well at to the official pages that explain what each of these are and what they do. And them the people have a way to get these if they want them and start backing up their data.
http://www.apple.com/macosx/what-is-...e-machine.html

http://www.atpm.com/15.03/howto.shtml

http://www.bombich.com/

http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDup...scription.html

Here you go .

Clay

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I have been following this thread with great interest as I just switched (last week) from a PC to a Mac Pro. I was very pleased with Acronis backup software on my PC but this is not available for Mac. I am looking at Chronosync right now but just don't have the hang of it, so I am investigating other options. I want to be able to select whatever internal drives I have (3 in my case, soon to be 4) and do a clone/carbon copy (whatever you call it) of the entire system as well as be able to do incremental backups to an external hard drive. I am backing up my entire image archive too which is very critical to my photo business. One of the backup hard drives will be kept off site and backed up once a week and the other is a Drobo which I will keep on site. Do any of the mac solutions offer this in an intuitive interface?
Thanks,
J. Paul
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For those of you that may have other computers in the house with extra space, you may find this approach useful...

Mad Monkey Machine: Simple Script to Backup Mac to Windows Share

It's a simple do-it-yourself approach to backing up your personal files (music, photos, movies, docs, etc) on another machine on your home network.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IvanLasston View Post
...
Another thought on RAID 5 - get multiple disks. Every Month - swap out the disks - one at a time and rebuild the data. Keep the backup offsite in a safe deposit box. ...
You're probably thinking of RAID 1. (disk mirroring) Keeping one drive of a RAID 5 array would be useless for backup/recovery purposes.
theoak

 
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Quote:
Anything like Acronis for backup?
I used the following tutorial to clone my SSD to new SSD. Worked perfectly without any other software:

http://www.ihackintosh.com/2009/04/h...e-in-mac-os-x/

2007 13" white Macbook, 2 Ghz Core2 Duo, 4 GB RAM, Snow Leopard w/ 250 GB Samsung 840 SSD
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