Backup Stratagies

First let’s talk about backup strategies. Depending on what type of work you use your computer for you’re going to have different needs. I’m a Mac user so I’m going to focus on Mac solutions I’ve used. Let’s tackle a few backup tools I’ve used:

SuperDuper & Carbon Copy Cloner

I’ve use both these programs at times to create a bootable backup. I did this for mission critical systems like my media computer. Once I had the software installed I used one of these programs to create a bootable backup. That way if I updated some software that jacked up my system (like a few QuickTime updates have), I could pop the other hard drive in and I’m up in running in a matter of minutes. If you can’t live with the 1-2 days it takes to rebuild your system because you don’t have the time or a backup computer to work on this is important. You’re talking about a $100 or less hard drive to get you up and running again. 

Lately I’ve bounce between working on my MacBookPro or the MacPro in the media room. If one goes down I work on the other. So lately I don’t use a bootable backup, but I have when I didn’t have a beefy laptop or backup computer. 


Since I bounce between my MBP and the MacPro I don’t keep my media files on the internal drive. For the MacPro I use a G-Speed eS RAID. Because I shoot on an HVX-200a with P2 cards the G-Speed is setup as a RAID 5 so if a hard drive crashes it can rebuild on the fly. I use ChronoSync to sync my Design, Digital Signage and current video projects to a G-Drive Mini (it’s a bus powered firewire drive). This way I have my most important files on a RAID 5 and I have them on another drive. I like ChronoSync for this because it doesn’t create a backup per say but synchronizes content across drives. You can schedule the synchronization for certain times but I choose to synchronizes when the computer detects my portable drive connected. 

Time Machine

Time Machine is an incremental backup program bundled with Apple’s Leopard. It has a very slick interface for retrieving files that have been deleted or modified from the past. I use it on my MBP but not on the MacPro. I’m going to talk more on the next post about getting the most out of Time Machine. I use Time Machine on my MBP but not on the MacPro. My main use for it is to make sure I have a backup of my personal media files (music, videos and pictures). You can use Apple’s Migration Assistant to restore your user, files and settings to your computer if your drive fails or if you’re moving to a new machine. 

So what’s the best backup strategy for you? It depends, but you do need a backup strategy. I think the biggest variables are how valuable is your time and the data on your drives. Let’s break it down: 

-Clone/ Bootable Backup: If you can’t handle down time in case of a software problem or hard drive problem this is for you. Once your operating system and applications are stable create a bootable backup. This way you can plug the backup drive in and get to work within a few minutes. 

-Incremental Backups: This is what I do on my media drives with Chrono Sync. The most valuable files (my design, digital signage and current video projects) are synced on multiple drives. This gives me assurance in case one drive dies, the building catches on fire, one drive is stolen, etc…

-Time Machine: Time Machine is a simple backup plan. It gives you good assurance to restore deleted/ modified files. It comes bundled with Leopard and is a set it and forget is tool. I’ll talk more next post about how I get the most out of Time Machine.


February 11, 2009. Tech Stuff.

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