Backing up my Mac – visualisation improves my protocol

I find it helpful to plan a backup protocol and review it every now and then, since I need to access data from years ago quite often. During the semester I can lose track if my setup is not simple and I report to stop gap measures when a backup hardisk is full. So during the semester-break, I review my setup and fix the inadvertent lapses, feeling quite lucky when data is intact!

Last December, I visualised the arrangement as I had lost track once again. It did become clear that I had been quite safe – current data on my laptop is always backed-up onto cloud storage and I had local backups as well. So I just ensured I was paid up for adequate subscription to cloud services. I did retire a very full 2007 external hardisk and replaced it with an external 3TB hardisk to handle daily backups.

Backup Protocol 001

My archives were residing on external hardisks which had been replaced about every half decade to increase their capacity and pre-empt hardware failure. I would rather work with archives on my laptop especially when preparing lectures and talks. However, the very fast SSD hardisks on my laptops which make work so much faster, are not large. So older data must be pushed to external drives.

The visualisation highlighted the fact my very old archives were only on a pair of redundant hard drives. I will now add those to CrashPlan, a cloud based backup plan – it might take weeks to upload but is a background process. I will just have to ensure the drives are powered on until that is complete.

When not active, all hardware is powered off, and this visualisation helped me figure out the most efficient arrangement for cabling and a safe power supply arrangement. With a more convenient setup, I find myself doing local daily backups and shifting data to archives much more frequently.

Yesterday morning, I learnt that Copy.com will be kaput by May 2016. Some of my students had used Copy.com for their thesis work as it offered them a higher capacity of free space compared to Dropbox. With those projects completed, I’ll just need to shift the lot to Dropbox or the archives, along with all my keynotes for public talks.

Actually, I already did!

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2 thoughts on “Backing up my Mac – visualisation improves my protocol

  1. Hi Siva,

    I’m just wondering, has all those hard drives, etc. cost a lot? Have you built up this equipment over time to reduce initial capital pay-out? I’m less than a year into my post-graduate programme and realising more and more how important backups are.

    • Yes, it costs a pretty penny so it is a question of how much your data is worth to you (effort to collect, sort and analyse, need to accomplish objectives).
      If you are supported by a project grant, that would be ideal of course.
      I find I can gradually turn to cloud alternatives, which is feasible with better internet speeds.
      It will reduce my problem of generating local e-waste.

      I expect my hardisks to last 3-5 years, so plan for replacements.
      My preparation for 2016 was a 2TB LaCie Mobile 2.5″ (S$189; Dec 2015) + a 4TB LaCie Desktop USB 3.0 (S$249; Dec 2015).
      As it turns out, a three year old hardisk just died on me, so I have activated the 4TB hardisk to take over my Master Archive.

      I love Cloud Backups and have been using Dropbox well, but find Google Drive great for collaboration when there is a lot of GDocs use.

      • 1TB Dropbox (S$140/year = US$9.99/mo)
      • 116GB Google Drive (100gb is S$34/year = US$1.99/mo; their 1TB option is also US$9.99/mo)
      • Unlimited Flickr Pro (photos; S$32/year = US$5.99/mo)

      My final safety net is a CrashPlan subscription forS$81/year = US$60/year for unlimited backups.

      If I started today, I think I would use:

      1. A 1TB Google Drive subscription for daily needs (US$120),
      2. a single 2.5″ 2TB hardisk for quick, urgent backups (US$141 to last at least three years) and
      3. a safety net of CrashPlan at US$60/year for unlimited backups.

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