Backups

Now that you know all there is to know about my home network here is a look at my backups.

First I'll get the iPhones out of the way. They back up to iCloud. I don't even bother with backing them up locally unless I'm getting ready to upgrade iOS and want to be able to quickly restore them after. Everything on the phones that needs backing up is backed up through Dropbox or iCloud or some other service to the Mac mini and, therefore, is covered by the Mac backups.

Click to enlargenate

There's a screen grab of my Mac mini showing all of the local, redundant backups. As I stated in the network post, I have a Lacie NAS on the home network with 3.6TB (not all of it allocated to the shares shown in that window). I have one share for a straight clone of the Mac mini that runs each night. It's called Clone and the scheduled backup in Carbon Copy Cloner is MacMiniClone. I like obvious names. Clone is just a little bigger than the full size of the Fusion drive in the Mac mini.

A second share on the NAS is called TimeMachine and it's almost twice the size of the Mac mini drive to leave plenty of room for versions. The last share is called Storage and it's for two things. First, I put video and photos that need to get edited (mostly from things like dance recitals and such) but don't need to be taking up a ton of space on the Mac. Second, all of the podcast files for IRR CON POD and for my (I promise, it's coming soon) new podcast. The podcast stuff doesn't take up all that much space – about 3GB – but I want it available on the network for when I can eventually edit and post on a Macbook Air.

I can hear some of you asking, "Hey, dummy. You're using your backup drive for storing things. Are you backing them up somewhere?" Yes. Yes, I am.

If you take a look at the side bar in that screen shot of Carbon Copy Cloner you'll see three more copy jobs and a 4TB volume called 5BIGBACKUP. That's a big USB 3 external drive from Seagate – it's this one. On that drive are three folders holding three backups. One each of the shares on the NAS. I could have plugged that drive directly into the NAS but I had two good reasons to hook it up to the Mac. First, believe it or not, the data transfers over the network, through the Mac, and onto the Seagate faster than letting the NAS do it's own backup. It must be an OS thing, but it's faster this way. And the other advantage to putting it on the Mac is that attached drives can be backed up using my preferred online backup service, Backblaze. For $5/month I have offsite backup of my Mac and everything on that Seagate (so everything on the NAS).

Ok. If you're keeping score at home everything on my Mac is backed up seven times. Seven.

1: Mac backed up to Backblaze

2-4: Time Machine to NAS, NAS Time Machine share cloned to Seagate, Seagate Time Machine clone to Backblaze.

5-7: Clone of Mac to NAS, NAS Clone share cloned to Seagate, Seagate Clone clone to Backblaze.

And everything in the Storage share is also backed up twice. One local on the Seagate and one offsite with Backblaze. I have some spare drives here so I'm thinking about adding at least one more copy of Storage.

In addition, I have alerts for all of these if they fail to complete a backup. Time Machine will display a notification on the Mac. And Carbon Copy Cloner and Backblaze will both email me if there is any error in copying. Also, because I use Carbon Copy Cloner for all copy jobs other than Time Machine and Backblaze (which are basically continuous) I can see which clone is most current just by opening the app and seeing what ran last.

If you're asking yourself if you need to go to this length to backup your stuff... Um, no. Probably not. Keep in mind I have been burned badly by not having backups – I have zero photos from our honeymoon in New York City – so I'm very data paranoid. If you have at least one, or two (drives do fail) local clones of your computer and use an offsite service like Backblaze then you're fine. But I've sworn I will never, ever lose important digital stuff to my own stupidity again.

Note: Yes. I do have the Death Star on my desktop. You can, too. And I have modified icons for a lot of things in the Dock. I got them, and instructions on how to install them, here.