[Update: 08 Mar 2018 – Style updates (thanks, Richard!) and added information about source code backups.]
For the last 20 years I’ve been pretty paranoid about backups. While my approach has changed over the years, one constant is that losing data is disastrous. I started with manual backups to floppy disks, then to Jaz disks where I’d rotate disks and store one at my parents’ house, then moved to burning DVDs that I’d put in a safe deposit box.
These days my routine is more refined: I use a modified 3-2-1 strategy to protect my data. If you’re not familiar with the 3-2-1 strategy, it is to have 3 copies of your data, on 2 different media, with 1 off-site backup.
- 2017 MacBook Pro as my main machine
- 2012 MacBook Pro for my wife’s machine
- 2013 Mac Pro
- Akitio Thunder2 Quad attached to the Mac Pro with four 6 TB drives; 2 are dedicated to backups. The drives are arranged in JBOD.
- 9 1 TB bare drives
- Newer Tech Voyager S3 connected to my MacBook Pro for doing backups to the bare drives
- HighPoint Dual-Bay Thunderbolt Dock that I move between the Mac Pro and my wife’s MacBook Pro for backing up to the bare drives.
- Carbon Copy Cloner. I used SuperDuper! for many years, but switched last fall because CCC has more features that work in my current strategy. SuperDuper! is a great product for cloning drives and has some features that CCC doesn’t have.
- My wife and I each have iCloud accounts with extra storage mainly to keep copies of our photos. Not only are the photos in iCloud, but they are synced to our MacBook Pros which are then backed up.
- Each of the machines in my house backs up to Time Machine. My MacBook Pro and my wife’s MacBook Pro do this over the network to my Mac Pro acting as a server. The Mac Pro does a local Time Machine backup to the Akitio. I don’t consider a network Time Machine backup to be a primary backup as the disc image that Time Machine creates seems to get corrupted far too often. I have no idea why, but it is a thorn in my side. Time Machine, however, has saved data on more than one occasion.
- Every day both of the laptops are set to backup their home directories using Carbon Copy Cloner to a disc image residing on the Mac Pro. The disc image is temporary storage, but an extra copy just in case.
- Every day the disc images from the home directories are backed up to a folder on a different drive on the Mac Pro. This takes the files out of the disc image.
- Every day my accounting data and my Paperless libraries are copied to iCloud Drive on my MacBook Pro. Since my Mac Pro is also connected to iCloud, this has the advantage of copying the data to the Mac Pro and keeping extra backups.
- A full backup of the Mac Pro is done daily using Carbon Copy Cloner to a partition on one of the Akitio’s drives.
- Each week I use a bare hard drive and the hard drive dock to make a full copy of each computer. This is a manual process, but easy to do. Carbon Copy Cloner is set to backup on connect.
- Each week I take a set of the bare drives to my safe deposit box. I have 3 sets of bare drives and rotate them weekly. The 2 sets that aren’t in the safe deposit box are stored in a First Alert 2037F Fire Safe.
- My source code for work and some of my projects is stored on github.com or bitbucket.org.
While my setup isn’t the simplest or least expensive, I don’t worry about losing data. Of course there are failure points in this setup but in general most of my data will be preserved in case of some type of data disaster.