I mentioned in my post about Apple Benchmarks that I bought a new Mac mini to replace my deceased Mac mini from 2010. One of the (many) benefits of this new machine is the Fusion Drive that’s available in many new Mac machines. The Fusion Drive is actually pretty similar to the setup I had in the old Mac mini – a small, fast SSD for the OS and apps; a large traditional disk drive for storage1 – but with Fusion Drive the OS manages the two drives. Basically2, the system puts the most often accessed bits on the SSD and uses the disk drive for everything else.

This has two very big advantages over my old two-drive arrangement. First, I don’t even have to think about what goes on each drive; the OS does it for me. And second, the system presents these two drives as a single large drive. It’s two separate physical drives in the computer but the OS presents them as one drive. That alone makes my backup solution incredibly less complex than it was with the old Mac.

And that is what this post is really about: my new, simpler3 backup solution.

I have a Firewire RAID array that I got from Macsales that is loaded up with four 1 TB drives. The OS sees that as one 3 TB drive4 which I have partitioned into three 1 TB volumes.

Volume one and two of the RAID I have named Clone 1 and Clone 2 because I’m very creative. I have SuperDuper5 run every day at noon to “smart copy” the whole Mac mini to Clone 1. At midnight SuperDuper copies the Mac to Clone 2. That gives me two bootable clones of the system that are at the most twelve hours old. And I have the gaps covered with Time Machine backing up continuously to the the third partition of the RAID, appropriately and creatively named Time Machine.

That is all well and good to back up everything but all three of those backups are in one box in the same cabinet as the Mac. If the house burns down I am truly screwed. To cover that contingency I have yet another 1 TB drive over at my parent’s house running a backup via CrashPlan every night. It is a bit of a pain to set up and maintain that system – I am casually looking for a better system for this; any suggestions welcome – but it seems to be running ok for now6. It runs overnight while I’m usually not using the Mac or much bandwidth. It does make me thankful that Comcast hasn’t imposed the bandwidth caps on us.

The summary of all that is that because I have the new Mac my backups are “simpler”. But because I am a bit obsessive about my backups they are still pretty complicated. It works for me, though.


  1. I started with a 500GB drive and eventually expanded to 1 TB. It held all of my photos, music, and movies. The movies took up the most space, obvs.

  2. Really basically. I am no engineer.

  3. Well, simpler is a relative term.

  4. It's RAID–5, I think. Again, not an engineer here.

  5. Tied with Audio Hijack Pro for my favorite Mac app.

  6. I do have a drive here backing up my parent’s Mac also. We have it set up this way so that we both have off-site backup without paying CrashPlan the monthly fee.