Current Backup Solution

There are two kinds of people in the world, those that have lost a hard drive and those that are going to lose a hard drive.

Ever since my hard drive snafu a while back, I’ve been a lot more cognizant about backups.

  • My email is sent to both FastMail and TuffMail, just in case.
  • All of my work file are in SVN, which is backed up with an hourly rsync to Strongspace (soon to be going to S3 as well).
  • My production MySQL databases are dumped nightly and archived to S3.
  • My home machine runs a RAID 1 array and I do SuperDuper backups to external drives.

And I’ve just set up a backup solution for my laptop that we’re standardizing on at Crowd Favorite. Basically we’re using a combination of SuperDuper and Time Machine, with a single external drive.

Using a single 500GB external drive:

  1. Connect the drive, and say “Yes” to use this as a Time Machine backup.
  2. Launch Disk Utility and create 2 sparse disk images using settings similar to these.

Time Machine will run for a little while, you want to let it finish before you start your SuperDuper clone. Once Time Machine has finished, you’ll want to do your first SuperDuper clone.

I use the 2 encrypted disk images to house my SuperDuper clones. The reason to have 2 is to give you just a little extra security. There are two issues that this helps with:

  1. Using a disk image, especially an encrypted image, brings disk image corruption into play.
  2. When you do a clone from your main drive, there is a chance that your main drive can get into a bad state, then you overwrite your backup with it.

A second image can slightly mitigate both of these.

I name my disk images creatively as SuperDuper 1 and SuperDuper 2. On even numbered days, I do a SuperDuper smart update to disk image #2, on odd numbered days I update disk image #2.

Doing all of this to a single physical disk isn’t ideal, but both the external backup drive and my laptop drive would have to fail simultaneously for me to lose data.

In the morning, I plug in my laptop and initiate a SuperDuper smart update. This takes about 20-30 minutes and I’m able to use the machine with only a minor performance hit during that time. Most of the time though, I might be checking in or coordinating with one of the other guys in the office, or doing things that don’t need a lot of performance like replying to e-mail.

I’m pretty satisfied with this set-up, but if you have suggestions for improvement I’d love to hear them.