Don’t Lose a Bit (or Byte) of Precious Data in 2019

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #313

World Backup Day isn’t until March 31, but I didn’t want this public service announcement to wait that long:

You are going to lose every file on your Mac’s hard and/or solid state drive(s) if those files have not been backed up.

– Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus 

Notice how I didn’t waffle… Note that I didn’t say you might lose everything. Nor did I say it’s possible you’ll lose everything.

That’s because you will lose everything on your disk when it fails. If you don’t have a backup (preferably more than one), you’re gonna have big trouble.

All Disks Fail Eventually

It’s true, with no ifs, ands, or buts. Your hard (or solid-state) drive is going to fail—absolutely and positively—I guarantee it. It probably won’t fail today (or even this week, month, or year), but all disks fail eventually.

All disks fail eventually...
All disks fail eventually…

I’m not saying this to scare you, I’m saying this because it’s a fact.

In my experience, it’s rare that a hard or solid-state drive will fail in its first year or two of service. But it does happen. It’s also rare that something (anything) you do to or install on your Mac is going to render a disk unusable, but that can (and does) happen, too.

Deleting a file and later discovering you really need it isn’t as rare,  nor is wishing you had access to an earlier version of a file. Still, either can be as devastating as a disk crash.

The Only Way to Not Lose Your Stuff

The only way to avoid the pain of losing your data is to back up your disk (or disks).

After you’ve set up an automated backup regimen, remember that it’s important to periodically test your backups and make sure they’re valid and that you can restore files from them.

Another thing to consider is that one backup just isn’t enough. To be safe, you’ll need at least two full backups, with at least one stored offsite in another location.

I’m a big fan of redundancy when it comes to backups. Storage is relatively cheap and many of my files are irreplaceable. So here’s my regimen:

  • I use Time Machine to back up my startup drive hourly (which is how it works by default).
  • I use Carbon Copy Cloner to create a bootable clone of my startup disk every night.
Carbon Copy Cloner duplicates my startup disk automatically every night at 11:46PM.
Carbon Copy Cloner duplicates my startup disk automatically every night at 11:46PM.
  • I use Backblaze to back up my disks to their cloud-based servers, which costs me a mere $5 a month or $50 a year for unlimited storage.
I've got more than a terabyte of files stored remotely on Backblaze's servers.
I’ve got more than a terabyte of files stored remotely on Backblaze’s servers.
  • Finally, I store a recently cloned backup disk in my safe deposit box at the bank.

I know some of you are as fanatic about backups as I am. If you’re one of ‘em, please take this opportunity to start a discussion and help someone you love to keep their precious data safe. Remind them that a single power surge or lightning strike can destroy your entire disk drive or even your entire Mac in a heartbeat. Then remind them that without a backup they will lose it all—every photo, video, song, movie, document, and all other files on the disk—in the blink of an eye.

So, please spread the word. Remind your parents, children, friends, neighbors, and anyone else you care about that World Backup Day is just around the corner and help them create a trustworthy, redundant backup system.

4 thoughts on “Don’t Lose a Bit (or Byte) of Precious Data in 2019

  • Bob:

    Shouldn’t that be ‘don’t lose a byte (or even a bit) of precious data…’?

    You cannot repeat this too often.

    Regarding hard disk failure, I did have one die on me in less than one year back in the day of spinning hard drives (my last one before SSDs came out on the MBPs). Fortunately, everything was redundantly backed up. On a separate occasion, I was on conference tour to multiple continents/countries in a 6 week period (non-stop) and did not take a backup disk with me, as I got tired of them being stolen from my bag. And yes, my hard drive crashed. I had to endure a lecture from the guys at Mac Medics who had to replace the drive upon my return, and who reminded me that they have to routinely lecture people about just this practice, but that they knew that I knew better, so…? Fortunately, I had backed up just prior to travel and had not created much content during that period, and all of my email was still available from the server, and active files were on DropBox, but none of that exonerates the offence.

    My backup strategy is similar to yours; hourly Time Machine for incremental backups, Carbon Copy Cloner for at least once but often twice daily bootable backups, an additional backup disk off site and Crash Plan (Business) for cloud backup, in addition to my active work files being stored on DropBox and Transporter (remember those?), which enables me to work from my iPad Pro at will.

    All technology will fail. A strategy that relies on single point failure is a guarantee that you will fail along with it.

    1. Yeah, your way (“don’t lose a bit of data” vs. “don’t lose a drop of data”) is better (and punnier, too). Bryan will probably kill me but I’m gonna go back in and change the headline. 🙂


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