Are Your Backups Up To Date?

Two subcontractors that we work with have had their machines die in the past week. They don’t even know each other but they both missed deadlines because of it. When setting up backups think 1, 2, 3.

1 offsite copy

2 methods of backup.

3 copies of every important file.

My machine is backed up using Time Machine (the built in Mac backup, I’m sure there’s a PC equivalent) to a hard drive on my home network. I also use an online service called Crashplan every hour or so. They both have built in alerts that get in my face if ever I’m more than a week out of date with my backups and together they cover my 1, 2, 3.

1 offsite – Crashplan.

2 methods – TimeMachine. CrashPlan.

3 copies – on my machine, on a hard drive at my house, and online through Crashplan.

It took <2 hours to set up and costs me $60 a year.

Time machine is a great choice too because if my hard drive dies I just have to replace my hard drive or buy a new Mac and when I run the setup script the software will just grab everything from my backup and within a couple of hours I’ll have my machine back EXACTLY as I left it (preferences, settings and all).


Mark Madison

Sadly, while Windows has a pretty good backup program now there is nothing in the PC World that compares with Time Machine. But man, keep preaching the gospel. I do.

I use Carbonite for offsite, Time Machine and SuperDuper(mac only). If you don’t have 3 copies you don’t have anything.

And add this to the mix: a client of mine, lucky to have insurance that paid the bill, incurred and expense of $2500 from DriveSavers to recover data from her damaged hard drive. Remember the FRAM commercial? Pay me now or pay me later.

Eric Wojtaszek

This is a major issue for me. We have a HUGE iPhoto library that we had kept on a hard drive. I use Crash Plan but every time I hooked up that drive it had to reindex the external drive that took FOREVER! I have considered buying another computer and making that the “Crash Plan” computer/House server.

Now that the kids are getting a bit older we have more connected devices I need a solid backup plan. Crash plan would be getting too pricey for individual machines. As an alternative I recently picked up a Netgear ReadyNAS ( . Any important files, picture, documents, movies, music go on the NAS not on the laptop/desktop. I am used to working that way at work too. It centralizes all of the important stuff because anything local can and will be lost. They also support snapshots too which is sort of like time machine for NASes. Snapshots ROCK!

I have mine set up with raid 1 so if one drive dies our Time Machine backups are mirrored to the other drive (I don’t think that you can back up Time Machine backups to Crash Plan?). It does support raid 0 but I would not do that unless I had another NAS for backup.

My only sticking point is backing up the NAS. ReadyNAS runs linux so they can run Crash Plan but the low end box that I got may not be powerfull enough but I am investigating a work around. CrashPlan is a pig. The ReadyNas does feature a ReadyNAS to ReadyNAS over the internet backup but I do not want to purchase more hardware.

I used to mess around with setting up old computers as linux boxes as file servers. That took too much time wasn’t not much cheaper and now I just want things to work.

Obviously I spend a lot of time thinking about this. If that data was ever lost there would be major Hell to pay. It is funny how many people never consider it.

Jason Mark

Eric, What do you do for Offsite? Are you still using Crashplan or something with your NAS, or is everything in one physical location? I’m the same as you with Photos and what it comes down to for me is if my house burned down the thing I’d miss the most is my photos. Other than some original artwork we own everything else is replaceable with time and money. Photos just aren’t.

Eric Wojtaszek

Yea I have been wrestling with that one. I was thinking of using crashplan but I am not sure if the NAS has the juice to handle it. I also looked at writing something in python to backup to the Amazon Glacier that would run on the NAS. I had a hard time understanding the full pricing of the Glacier and I gave up when it started to look pricey. Now I am looking at this thing called syform. It is a P2P sharing program that seems a little skeevy to me and most people that I have talked to but for photos it might do the trick. I could just attach a 1Tb drive and backup 4 gigs for free and the Netgear NAS seems to support it right out of the box. I just have to suck it up and pull the trigger.

Eric Wojtaszek

I do use Crash Plan…. It is OK for one computer like my laptop. My biggest problem is that we need to share that darn iPhoto Library. We use that sucker all of the time. On top of that we access it from several computers in the house. Nobody wants it on their computer because there would be no space left. We have it on an external drive that I was able to back up with crash plan but now Crash Plan is not able to handle it. It spends days indexing and never finishes. When I need to take my laptop outside the radius of the USB cable that drive gets unplugged and Crash Plan restarts the index. By the way that cable is thirty feet long. It would help if we had a dedicated computer for just shared family stuff. Crash Plan would probably be able to back up a computer that is plugged in all of the time.

Jason Mark

Yeah, we don’t share our Photo Library for that reason. It just lives on my machine… but having a dedicated machine for it would be a fix. The problem with that being that machine needs a second round of backups… I’ve been considering ditching iPhoto for something in the cloud lately. I mean iPhoto is already slow as a dog, but then again the online services come and go. I would have had to have changed services 3 times if I’d done that…


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