My Backup Routine

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When I use to teach technical training courses, I used to tell my students, “There are two types of people: those who backup and those who wish they had.” This is the voice of experience talking here. Early on in my computing days, I lost data due to faulty backups or no backups. Since then, my backup procedure has evolved quite a bit and consists of several steps.

  1. Local Backup. Each week, I backup my computer’s hard drive as well as my external drives using a backup program called Carbon Copy Cloner (SuperDupe is also another excellent app). I have two external drives that I use regularly, one for my data files and one for my media that is part of the backup. I have two different backup versions, which I alternate each week (weekly 1 & weekly 2). So thus, I have six drives total for my backup: two for my hard drive, 2 for my data files, and 2 for my media files, all of which I alternate.
  2. Time Machine. I have a Mac, so I always have a Time Machine drive. What this does, is backs up continuously throughout the day, so I pretty much always have a recent backup of the data on my Mac. I used to alternate Time Machine drives as well each week but have subsequently reduced it to only one drive.
  3. This is the primary cloud service that I use. It’s similar to Dropbox and Box in that it synchronizes your data continuously to the cloud. I have my folder stored on an external drive, and it also gets backed up each week when I do my Carbon Copy Cloner backup (see #1).
  4. Dropbox. I also use the free version of Dropbox. My main reason for using this is because it’s the only thing that works with Scrivener, my main writing application. Given that I switched back and forth between the Mac desktop app and the iPad version, I need to keep Scrivener around to ensure that syncing is smooth and I don’t end up losing any data.
  5. AWS. Okay, so this is totally optional. I also have an Amazon AWS account where I store my super-important files that are essential for running my business. AWS is a cloud storage solution as opposed to the likes of or Dropbox, which are cloud sync solutions. The difference is that if you delete or change a file from your folder, that file is deleted from the cloud. With services like AWS, files are not synced to your computer. Instead, you upload to their cloud servers, where they’ll stay until you delete them yourself.

So that is my backup solution. It might seem a tad confusing at first glance, but it’s really simple. One local backup, an always-on Time Machine backup, automatic sync to the cloud, and extra storage for my super-important files. Some people take the local backup to the next level by storing their backup drives off-site, such as at another person’s house or in the trunk of their car. I don’t do this, figuring that my system is relatively foolproof as is.

I do recommend storing at least one full version of all your data off-site or in the cloud, should your home ever face a natural disaster such as a flood or a fire, or if there’s ever a break-in and your drives get stolen.

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