The perfect backup system?

June 10, 2010 | By | Comments (0)

 A couple of weeks ago, my reliable MacBook Pro started to have some trouble.

Upon startup the display would show teal plaid, until switching to fuchsia plaid and crashing. The issue would fix itself upon restart, but it was clear that the laptop was heading to permanent plaid-dom. Fortunately, before the final crash, I was able to cobble together a quick backup to protect all the valuable datas (photos) stored on the hard drive. (For those who are interested, the plaid problem was due to a faulty NVIDIA graphics card).

Back up and running with a new MacBook Pro (the old one was repaired and handed down to a co-worker), I was determined to set up a real backup system, rather than playing it fast and loose with my data. My goal was to create a system that was easy, automatic and redundant. Here's what I came up with:

Timemachine_hero20090608Time Machine
Using Time Machine, Apple's backup system which "automatically saves up-to-date copies of everything on your Mac — photos, music, videos, documents, applications, and settings," I started backing up to a 1TB My Book hard drive from Western Digital ($129.95).

I keep the hard drive – which, upon recommendations I found online, is two times the size of my computer's hard drive – at my office and plug the laptop in each morning, which gives me the added benefit of storing my files "off site" from my laptop.

I considered using a wireless solution, such as Time Capsule, to maintain a second backup at home, but decided instead to look to the "cloud." With Carbonite, the essentials (user files, music, photos and other user-created files) are backed up and stored online. Unlike Time Machine, Carbonite doesn't back up operating system files or applications, which works for me since those aren't the files I'm most concerned about.

While there always privacy concerns when storing information online, I decided to take the risk because (I assume) Carbonite will maintain their own backups of my backups – talk about belt and suspenders!

A one-year subscription to Carbonite costs $54.95, and the first back up for my laptop (about 80 GB) took several days, but didn't appear to disrupt our internet access by clogging the "tubes." (One issue my husband brought up was that we may go over our monthly bandwidth allocation from Comcast, which would actually slow down our home's access to the internet – so check with your internet provider before backing up all your machines to the internet).

With several old hard drives kicking around the house, each with multiple copies of photos and music, there is no question that I am TOTALLY paranoid about losing my data, and have a tendency to over-back up. It may not be perfect, but now that I have a system, I'm feeling a little less tense, and a little more in control.

What about you? Have you come up with the perfect backup system?