Tuesday, January 24, 2012 [Tweets] [Favorites]

7 Facets of a Good Mac Backup Strategy

Stefan Reitshamer:

I’ve been studying the computer backup industry for 3 years now and I’ve been selling my own online backup product, Arq, since February 2010. I’ve seen and heard lots of different approaches to backing up one’s computer. Here are some backup lessons I’ve learned.

Over the last year, I encountered lots of problems with both CrashPlan and Time Machine. (They continue to work well for my parents, however.) I’m now using Arq to make my automatic, versioned backups—stored on Amazon S3. Arq is great. It’s easy to use, reliable, and efficient with memory and CPU. I like that I can see which files it’s detected as changed and that I can easily pause it when I’m using a slow connection. I still use SuperDuper for clones, of course.

The three facets that I would add are:

  1. When getting started, it’s important to verify that your backups work as intended. Can you boot from your clones? Can you in fact restore last Thursday’s copy of a particular file?
  2. Having two recent clones on hand is helpful if you want to use your Mac while restoring. Otherwise you’ll spend lots of time waiting for data to copy.
  3. It does no good to have backups if you’re copying files that have already been damaged. I’ve had lots of bitrot over the years, not finding out until later that files had been corrupted. To prevent this, I checksum my important files using Git (for source code and Web sites), IntegrityChecker (for Aperture masters and iTunes music and video files), and EagleFiler (for everything else). Periodic verification of these checksums lets me nip any problems in the bud. There’s also the added benefit that after I restore from a backup I can tell whether the file in the backup was still good, even if the backup itself wasn’t checksummed.

3 Comments

So the .ic files everywhere do not bother Aperture or Itunes? (I assume they don't or otherwise you wouldn't be using IntegrityChecker.)

@Adrian Aperture and iTunes just ignore them. I have my Aperture masters stored outside the .aplibrary (on a separate drive).

Arq looks great, thanks for the tip

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