My current data backup strategy

Over the years I've had my share of hard drives fail. I've lost a few files that I wish I'd backed up, and I'm sure I've lost many more that I don't remember but would be very happy if I suddenly found them. Basically, I don't know what I've lost.

So I'm slightly obsessed with my data backup strategy.

At the moment, I have 3 computers:

  1. A MacBook Pro 15 is my "Main" computer. It's a 2 year old MacBook that I carry between work and home on an almost daily basis. It holds my personal iTunes Library, my Aperture Library, and all my documents.
  2. A 5 year old MacBook Pro 17 serves as my "home" computer when I leave the other one at work. Personal documents are kept in sync via Dropbox. It doesn't have a copy of my iTunes or Aperture Libraries, nor anything I need backed up that's not in Dropbox. I also use this one for testing new applications and fiddling with the system. I like to keep my main computer as clean and organised as possible. I'm slightly OCD when it comes to my computers.
  3. An old iMac is the family computer and the media server. It has the home iTunes Library connected to the Apple TV 2.

I've been thinking about my data backup strategy for a while now. I've considered cloud options like Mozy and Crashplan, but haven't taken the plunge. I'm not convinced they're ready for prime time.

Dropbox covers most of my data backup needs for documents. It's my iTunes and Aperture libraries that could use a robust cloud backup solution.

Hopefully iCloud will deal with backing up my music and apps, but not sure how it'll work with video, audio books, and non iBookstore books like pdf and converted ePub files.

I also still have no good solution to backup my photographs. My Aperture Library is currently 220 GB and growing fast. I use MobileMe's Gallery to backup the 5 star photographs, but that's sadly going away.

Basically, I don't think I have the perfect backup solution yet. Here's what my current data backup strategy is:



My main MacBook Pro gets backed up twice:

  • Time Machine kept offsite. This handles pretty much everything that's irreplaceable.
  • Weekly Clone. 

Plus I keep an extra backup of my Aperture Library as an Aperture Vault in a third drive. My photos is what I absolutely do not want to ever loose.

The iMac gets:

  • Time Machine local backup.

The video in the iMac's iTunes Library is duplicated in an external drive, just in case.

The "testing" MacBook Pro doesn't get a backup. The only important documents in it are in Dropbox, and that's already backed up several times with the above set up.

Seems really convoluted now that I write it. Maybe it's time to re-think it. I did ask myself if Time Machine was still necessary or Dropbox had made it irrelevant. We'll see how it goes.