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  1. #1


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    Backing up files
    With a purchase of an iMac, what is the best backup mythology...external HD, DVD, or what? Thanks.

  2. #2

    harryb2448's Avatar
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    External hard drive in a caddy using FW800, or Thunderbolt if you want the very top performance.

    Time Machine comes free but personally prefer cloning software, SuperDuper, which makes an exact copy of your hard drive onto the external and is bootable. The registered version for from memory $29, works three of four times faster than the free version, and you are able to do a Smart Backup on say a weekly basis which changes anything updated etc. during that week.

    And cloning software, CarbonCopyCloner is another, are bootable whereas TM is not.
    Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!

  3. #3

    chscag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonJ441 View Post
    With a purchase of an iMac, what is the best backup mythology...external HD, DVD, or what? Thanks.
    All new iMacs are equipped with USB 3 and Thunderbolt. Use a USB 3 external hard drive to make your backups as Thunderbolt drives are still too expensive. Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner are recommended for making backups.

  4. #4

    Dogbreath's Avatar
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    I recommend using TM and a bootable backup software as these gentlemen have discussed. A bootable backup will allow you to continue to use your computer in case of hdd failure. CCC was a life-saver for me when my internal hdd died.

    I also recommend burning all photo, video, and music files to flash drives...or DVD if you have an optical drive of some sort. Considering the convenience, storage capacity and cost, flash drives are a good deal.

  5. #5


    Member Since
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    I'm not sure I can agree about the flash drives, Dogbreath. The ones I assume you are talking about -- pocket/thumb USB flash drives are VERY prone to damage (improperly pulled out, lost in the wash, exposed to elements, lost/stolen, etc) and are quite expensive at the capacity ranges needed to hold large music, video and photo libraries.

    For storing large libraries externally, traditional hard drives are a much better way to go. Cheap, reliable and easily themselves backed up.

  6. #6

    toMACsh's Avatar
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    Cost per GB is a good metric for people of means. For some, however, it's the bottom line that is most important. A flash drive is cheaper in that regard than an external, especially one large enough to make a clone on, depending of course on the size of the hard drive to be cloned.

  7. #7

    bobtomay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toMACsh View Post
    Cost per GB is a good metric for people of means. For some, however, it's the bottom line that is most important. A flash drive is cheaper in that regard than an external, especially one large enough to make a clone on, depending of course on the size of the hard drive to be cloned.
    I don't follow that reasoning - at all - and I use both external hard drives and flash drives.

    Cost of flash drives are approximately $10 for every 16 GB - two 64 GB or a single 128 GB flash drive is going to run about $70. For that same $70 you can get a USB 3 - 1,000 GB external hard drive. At $120, you can find a 3,000 GB external drive.
    I cannot be held responsible for the things that come out of my mouth.
    In the Windows world, most everything folks don't understand is called a virus.

  8. #8

    Slydude's Avatar
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    I was thinking the same thing. From a speed standpoint flash storage might her good for some large libraries if you were't stuck functioning at USB speeds.
    "Got Time to breathe. You got time for music." Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling

  9. #9

    McBie's Avatar
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    Cost can never be a criteria for protecting your information.
    However, cost can be an outcome of the question " What is the value of the information I am trying to protect ? "
    If the value is low, then buy a cheap backup media.
    What I am reading above is that people too quickly jump into the " solution space " without properly defining the " problem space " . That is the world upside down.

    Cheers ... McBie
    A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.
    The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

  10. #10

    Dogbreath's Avatar
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    Very good points from all directions. I also feel that the more treasured the files are, the more effort and $$$ should be put towards their preservation. As a studio engineer, I feel media files should be backed up more than 2 or 3 times...one copy even kept off site. In my case, TM backups are one one ext hdd, CCC back ups are on another ext hdd while pictures and audio files are backed up on both AND flash drives and DVD's just to be safe. My advice was pointed towards the typical home/consumer needs...people who live by these files should go to extremes to protect their art/craft/livelihood.

  11. #11

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by McBie View Post
    Cost can never be a criteria for protecting your information.
    However, cost can be an outcome of the question " What is the value of the information I am trying to protect ? "
    If the value is low, then buy a cheap backup media.
    What I am reading above is that people too quickly jump into the " solution space " without properly defining the " problem space " . That is the world upside down.

    Cheers ... McBie
    As a former risk management consultant, let me say that cost is ALWAYS one of the criteria for data protection. The general rule is that you should spend no more for protection that the product of (value of data * probability of loss). In "value of data" you include the business loss, actual data value, potential publicity losses, etc. So, if you determine that your data is valued at 1 million, and the probability of lost (equipment failure, stupid mistakes, software crashes, theft, etc) is 1%, then you should be willing to spend 10,000 on protection/backup/etc. The formula breaks down if the value of data is infinite, but until then, it's a good rule of thumb.

    All that said, I use CCC to make a simple clone of my internal drives every day, once a day, with no archived history. It's a copy, bootable. I use TM for historical incremental backups, also scheduled for twice a day. The backups go to different drives because backing up to one drive two ways is really only ONE backup.

  12. #12

    McBie's Avatar
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    That is indeed a business approach where value of data is quantifiable. ( ie. revenue, missed opportunities etc ... )
    Like I mentioned .... what is the value of the data you are trying to protect.
    The challenge is to map that to your home usage.
    I can not quantify what the value is of my private information. I can only say that I value pictures of my family more than a silly budget spreadsheet ( as an example ), so I make sure I have 2 backup of my family pictures.
    But a monetary value for my private information .... I would not have a clue?

    Cheers ... McBie
    A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.
    The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

  13. #13

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by McBie View Post
    That is indeed a business approach where value of data is quantifiable. ( ie. revenue, missed opportunities etc ... )
    Like I mentioned .... what is the value of the data you are trying to protect.
    The challenge is to map that to your home usage.
    I can not quantify what the value is of my private information. I can only say that I value pictures of my family more than a silly budget spreadsheet ( as an example ), so I make sure I have 2 backup of my family pictures.
    But a monetary value for my private information .... I would not have a clue?

    Cheers ... McBie
    Well, you could consider what the cost of ID theft is today. And that depends on your financial situation. Everybody has to do that assessment individually, but a little research should show what the average cost of ID theft is. I've seen ranges from $400 to $15,000 for the US. It depends on how quickly you discover your ID has been stolen and what the stop-loss limits are on your credit cards. For Debit cards, the limit is the balance, or the balance plus any overdraft limits you may have. That can get expensive.

    As for pictures of family, there isn't any way to value them objectively so you get to spend whatever you think appropriate to preserve them as best as you can or want.

  14. #14

    McBie's Avatar
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    Hmmm.... Not sure I would link ID theft to the backup question .
    Backing up your ID is not helping you to recover from ID theft.
    So the protection of your ID is proactive and the backup of data is reactive.
    In the end it is all about semantics I guess, but it is always a good thing to think about what you want to achieve and not immediately jump into the ' technology ' area.

    Cheers ... McBie
    A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.
    The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

  15. #15


    Member Since
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    My backup strategy, for the benefit of the OP as we seem to have gotten a little off the rails

    Currently next to my machine are four external hard drives, all 1TB I bought some time ago. My internal boot drive for my MBP is 500GB.

    Drive #1 is for Time Machine backups.
    Drive #2 is for "clone" backups made in this case with Carbon Copy Cloner (Super Duper is another good option)

    Drive #3 is a "media drive" filled with old photo libraries, videos et al.
    Drive #4 is a clone of the media drive.

    So I have two backups of my boot drive, and one backup of my media drive.

    I'm eventually planning to up the storage of my boot drive to 750 or possibly 1TB, get a 3TB external and partition it half and half for media and Time Machine, then get one more 3TB for clones of both and retire these 1GB drives. I'm also planning to "back up" my photo library (probably the most "precious" thing I have on my drives) to Flickr over time as an extra cloud backup. My RAW photos I already copy to DVDs for offline storage.

    The whole thing is a LOT less work than it sounds. Most of it is automatic except for uploading to Flickr and making DVDs of RAW photos for archival purposes.

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