Wednesday, January 13, 2021

2021 Backup Strategy

David Sparks:

At any particular time, there is a curve for hard drive storage in price. Ideally, you want your backup to fit within that sweet spot where it can be contained on an affordable drive. If you have more data to back up than will fit on the current affordable drive capacity, you’ll need to split your data or look at a more complex NAS system. One of the reasons I spent time ditching files was so I could keep it simple. My data needs are just under 5TB right now, and there are several affordable 5TB storage options. I’ve bought three separate Seagate portable 5TB drives. They are small and light, and they are USB-powered.


I’ve heard from some readers that mounting drives under the desk leads to unwanted vibration. I think I dodged this bullet because I mount them with attachable Velcro tape. The drives are so light that the Velcro is fine to hold them, and it offers a buffer. Either way, they are entirely unnoticeable when working on top of the desk.

I’ve been using a GO-Oblong Cable Organizer and a similar box from IKEA to contain my USB hub and various bus-powered drives on my desk. But I really like this idea for freeing up more desk space by putting them underneath. Unfortunately, I still rely on higher capacity 3.5-inch hard drives for some auxiliary storage, and Time Machine and bare 3.5-inch drives for most of my clones. Those go in drive docks that would need to stay on top.

Update (2021-01-26): Dr. Drang:

But this week I got both of my external disks—one for Time Machine and the other for a nightly backup—off the top of my desk and down underneath it. I went with a more prosaic solution: a shelf.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

FWIW, my backup strategy currently consists of three hard drives. One for Time Machine and two system clones.

My Mac is a 2018 mini with 2TB of on-board storage. Each external backup drive is a 4TB Toshiba N300 hard drive (7200 RPM and rated for 24x7 operation) mounted in Vantec NexStar TX USB 3 enclosures.

The Time Machine volume is powered and mounted 24x7. About once a month or so, it seems to randomly disconnect, which is very frustrating, but this bug (USB volumes disconnecting randomly) is one that macOS seems to have had for a very long time so I've simply resigned myself to put up with it.

The other two (clone) volumes are typically powered off. When I want to make a backup, I power one on, make my clone (using Carbon Copy Cloner) and then eject/power-off the drive when the clone is done.

The Toshiba N300 series is available in capacities up to 14 TB. The only thing some may find problematic is that head motion can bit a bit noisy. But the noise doesn't bother me.

I deliberately chose 3.5" drives because I've found them to be more reliable, and they are definitely available in much higher capacities than 2.5" drives. They can't be bus powered (so each drive has a power brick), but that's OK - I have never trusted USB to provide reliable power and I don't want to start now.

(1) USB-C drive (directly attached for Carbon Copy Cloner)
(2) 4 TB Thunderbolt 3 drive (directly attached) with audio libraries for fast loading
(3) BackBlaze remote backup
(4) Time Machine (Mac mini in the local network with attached TM SSD)
(5) Manual backups (software, libraries, Plex server media, finished projects etc.; same Mac mini with attached 3.5''-based storage)
(6) work files in NextCloud (running on Docker on the same Mac mini, yet another attached SSD)
(7) Raspberry Pi with attached 4 TB powered HDD for trash files I probably never need again

That would be my favorite setup… but not there yet. You could always use a specialized NAS like a Synology instead of a Mac mini, but the devil you know.

This is one area that Apple leaves me shaking my head.

A decade ago, Apple provided an "Apple" level backup/wireless router setup that made for a "backup for the rest of us" solution.

I completely fail to understand why it makes more corporate sense for Apple to dabble in ultra-niche headphones rather than, say a homekit server that incorporates a mesh routing system, local backup, and (why not) a nice media server that replaces an Apple tv.

It could be built on top of a mac mini, or the innards of an iphone for relative peanuts in dev costs...

People complain about the walled garden. I say cultivate the damn garden! Build the Wall!

Robbb: In 2021, "home server", "mesh routing", and "local backup"? Apple, like their competitors, doesn't want to be in any of those businesses. The Genius Bar can't 'troubleshoot' a home networking problem by simply swapping your device for a new one.

A lot of people also wanted Apple to make printers.

Leave a Comment