On the Importance of Backups

By now I’m sure many of you have read the story of Mat Honan’s epic hacking. Aside from the massive security protocol problems that were brought to light by this, what really stood out was the fact that he didn’t have a backup of irreplaceable baby photos.

Maybe I’m just really paranoid, but I can’t fathom not having multiple backup mechanisms in place (I do) for something as precious as baby pictures. Since I first went 100% digital with my photography in 2001, I’ve been obsessive about backing up – which, for me back in the day, meant burning everything to DVDs.

Since then, a few things have happened: storage has become ridiculously cheap, and there’s this new thing called “the cloud” that all the cool kids are talking about. Here’s a glimpse at my backup methodology today:

  • Local, bootable clone copy of my iMac’s hard drive. I use Carbon Copy Cloner for this; it’s quick, simple, and bulletproof. Whenever I dump a new event into iPhoto or add a bunch of new music, or otherwise about once a week, I fire it up and let it update my bootable clone drive.
  • Offsite copy of my iMac’s hard drive. About once a month, I make another bootable backup, which goes offsite to an undisclosed location. I should probably be encrypting the drive that I use for this, but I haven’t come up with a good solution for that just yet.
  • Backup to the Interwebs. For this, I’m using CrashPlan – there are several other options out there (Carbonite, Mozy, etc.), but I find CrashPlan works well and is reasonably priced.

So there you have it: in the event of a hard drive failure, I can boot off the local clone and have all my stuff right there. Pop in a new drive, clone back, and it’s like nothing ever happened. If my house catches fire and I can’t grab the local clone drive on the way out, I have the offsite clone (the only liability there is that it may be missing up to a month’s worth of data.) Failing both of those, I can pull all or select data back down from the cloud.

As for my MacBook Pro: I don’t keep any critical data on there, so I don’t back it up regularly. Everything that needs to be saved is on the iMac.

What about you, readers? Any other suggestions? What are you doing about backup? Are you as neurotic as me? Please let me know in the comments.

Image credit: DeclanTM via Compfight


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