Saturday, January 10, 2009

On backups

My brother just asked me about backups for his Mac laptop, so I thought I'd share my 2 cents on the matter with everybody --

You really don't need a backup until something goes wrong. And what could go wrong here in America? =)

Lots of stuff. Here are a few things that can go wrong, from most likely to least likely:
  1. You accidentally delete/overwrite a file
  2. Your hard disk dies
  3. Your computer is stolen (or destroyed)
  4. Your house is burglarized or burns down
  5. A large bomb destroys half of the city
  6. An EMP wipes out all electronics in the region
Don't let your kids play with EMPs in the backyard!

With most of those (all except #1), you lose *all* your data, which includes pictures, emails, iTunes songs, etc. So here are a few solutions, and a list of which problems they address:

OptionEasy?Rough costTime to get back up and runningProblems addressedWhat gets lost
Backup cloned hard drive connected to your machine (cloned once a week or so)so so$100up and running in minutes1 (maybe), 2Up to a week's worth of stuff
Backup time machine hard drive connected to your machinevery easy$100up and running in a couple hours1, 2up to an hour's worth of stuff
Backup time machine hard drive stored on the other side of townvery easy$100up and running in a couple hours (after you drive across town to get it)1, 2, 3, 4, 5whatever you've done since the last time you plugged it in
Online backupscumbersome?maybe $20/month?varies, probably many hours1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (all depending on the service)depends on the particulars of the service
DVD backupsvery cumbersome$1-3 per 4.7 GB disclikely many *many* hours to get back up1, 2, 3, 6whatever you haven't burned to discs

My advice? Go with the backup TM drive stored on the other side of town, and periodically make DVD backups of important files. It's cheap, and covers almost everything that can go wrong.

Hope that helps!

1 comment:

bryan said...

Update: I simply bought two external backup drives from Costco, then took one to work and left the other at home. I back up every few days, then every month or three I swap the one at work with the one at home. A pretty solid system, and only cost me two drives.

Does anyone read this thing?

views since Feb. 9, 2008