The problem I had is that I had more data (music, movies, photos) than would fit on my main hard drive. Having to backup the MacBook hard drive (for the system) and a 500GB external drive (with all the media) was do-able, but as I said… Cumbersome.
I had a 1TB drive partitioned into two 500GB volumes. One was a bootable SuperDuper backup of the system drive and the other was of the media drive. So, two drives backed up to a single external drive. Dangerous.
Additional backups were needed. I backed up the system drive to a Time Capsule router/hard-drive with Time Machine and everything to Carbonite. This was getting complex really fast. And the Time Capsule is kind of a crap wireless router. Something had to give.
Turns out the key to the entire problem is getting everything onto the main hard drive of the MacBook. I got a 500GB notebook hard drive and moved everything onto it using SuperDuper (It does more than just backups. It moves data.) which freed up one of the external drives. So here is the new scheme…
Everything (the system, the music/movies/photos, everything) is on the 500GB drive in the MacBook. I could probably use a 1TB drive, but I’d have to buy another 1TB external drive for my new backup scheme (keep reading, I’m getting to it…) and I’m actually looking at replacing the MacBook with a –gasp!– Mac Pro in the next year or so.
I have SuperDuper (definitely getting my money’s worth out of that program) running a nightly backup to the 500GB external. It’s a full mirror of the MacBook and it’s bootable. The other external is 1TB and is holding a Time Machine backup of the MacBook. I use the bigger drive for the Time Machine because it saves more than just the current state of the drive. It goes back in time… And, of course, I still have Carbonite backing up everything off-site.
This lets me just set up everything and let it run. All I have to worry about is making sure I don’t fill up the main drive. And I can use a better router (in this case the NetGear WNR3500L – cheaper and more reliable than the Time Capsule) for my network. That’s important when you’ve got a MacBook, two iPads, two iPhones, an Apple TV, a PlayStation 3, a Vonage phone adapter and (though it pains me to admit it) two Dell PC’s for my and Erin’s work all going through it.
It’s a really good and reliable setup. Reliable, automatic backups without any coding or scripting and for around $200 total (including the $55 a year for Carbonite). I plan on using a similar — though larger — setup for the Mac Pro when I finally pull the trigger on that purchase.