Backup Strategy

Updated Oct.23, 2007: Information on my latest backup strategy and tools now has it’s own page. Not anymore

I wrote about various backup strategies I’ve had in the past but it’s time to update that and to do it in a smaller, concise article.

iMac Backup

My iMac, with a 500GB hard drive, is the only computer I have that contains data that I need to back up.

Full Disk Clone

The iMac wakes from sleep at 3AM every morning and SuperDuper! runs a scheduled clone of the hard drive to a Maxtor OneTouch III 300GB external drive. SuperDuper! is set to put the drive to sleep when the backup is finished. The Smart Update feature to only clone changes is used to save time.

In the event of a hard drive failure I could immediately boot from the backup drive and continue working with last night’s backup or work to recover files from the back drive. bandwidth throttling,

Offsite & Duplicate Backups

The gaps with the cloned drive are that there’s only one copy of the files and they’re sitting on my desk plugged into the iMac. So to plug those gaps:

I have a free Mozy account and use the MacMozy client to backup critical data to their servers. The MacMozy client is still in beta but it’s been reliable enough for me that I’m willing to use it as a backup for one copy of my files. This backs up changed files, that meet the criteria I picked, when the computer is idle.

Up to this point everything has been automated and I don’t need to do anything to get the backups. And that’s a real good thing. But to also protect my critical data I have some automator scripts that back up the critical data files (the same ones that go to Mozy) to an encrypted disk image file which is then copied to my iPod. I can also burn the file to CD for long-term storage (but never do) or copy it to a USB thumb drive. I typically copy it to the USB thumb drive and iPod every couple of weeks when I site down and pay bills and do other housekeeping on the iMac.

Website Backups

In addition to data on my computers I need to back up my websites. Bluehost does do backups but I don’t want to rely on them except as a last resort.

I use a plugin called WordPress Database Backup to back up my WordPress databases to a file on my local iMac. (This is a folder that’s then backed up to Mozy and my iPod). This needs to be done manually through the browser but is extremely easy. The standard WordPress tables are backed up by default and I then select all the other added (by plugins) tables. A compressed file is then downloaded to my my PC. This is a manual process but it’s quick and easy so I’ve been consistent in getting the backup any day I add an article to the site.

To backup the files on the web server I use Transmit to synchronize the file server to a folder on my PC. This folder tree is then backed up to Mozy and my iPod. Transmit only copies changed files so it’s a fairly quick process. An additional benefit is that I can quickly copy a file back to the server if an upgrade fails or the file becomes corrupt.. This only needs to be done when files are changed on the server. I do it every Sunday and after major changes.

Safety Backups

Being the paranoid type, I do additional backups to make sure I have copies of my photo and music libraries which are to large for backing up to Mozy or a thumb drive.

My iPod serves as a backup for most of my iTunes library. The things that aren’t on it won’t be missed if I lose all my hard disk backups and need to rely on the iPod. Most of the library is ripped from CD so those serve as a backup too.

After photos are added to my library I copy the files to a archive folder. When the folder grows to 4GB I burn the files to DVD and file away the DVD. There’s no organization, other than date, but at least I’ll have the photos.

Future Plans

I’m looking into a way to copy most of my files to my Mac Mini on a automated basis, possibly using ChronoSync. In addition to serving as another copy of my files, if my iMac fails the plan would be to pick things up with the Mac Mini until the iMac is fixed.