Jeff's Comprehensive Mac Backup Guide

Today is World Backup Day, which is great, but for me every day is backup day. I hate to lose files. I hate that so much that I have backup systems for my backups. No kidding. I'm kind of out of control.

You can never have too much. That's Jeff's backup motto.You can never have too much. That's Jeff's backup motto.

My data backup routine is made up of multiple strategies: on sight and off site; hourly and daily. Here's how it all comes together.

On Site

My on site backup routine for my Mac starts with Apple's own Time Machine. It handles hourly backups and gives my quick access to previous file versions in the event I really screw up something I'm working on. I see Time Machine as a very transient backup system because it's giving fast little snapshots of what I'm working on throughout the day.

I can go back a few weeks for older files, but that rarely happens. If I need something from my Time Machine backup, it's almost never anything that's more than a few hours old.

My nightly backup is under the watchful care of Data Backup 3 from Prosoft Engineering. It backs up all of my files and keeps several weeks worth of changes for me. If something goes horribly wrong I can get back my lost data with out any hassle.

My nightly backup is stored on a Drobo 5D, which adds in another level of backup: hardware. If a hard drive fails in my Drobo, I can swap it out for another without risking any data loss.

Off Site

I use two off site backup services, both of which fall more or less under my hourly backup routine. Since they're checking throughout the day for changed files, I'm never more than a couple hours ahead of both backups.

Dolly Drive covers my truly cloud-based backup needs and hasn't ever failed me. As a bonus, you can use their service to manage file synchronization between multiple computers and mobile devices, too. You can try it out for free, and depending on your storage needs, plans are available ranging from US$10 a month for 250GB storage up to $55 a month for 2TB.

My second off site backup comes courtesy of CrashPlan's free service that lets me use my own hard drive connected to someone else's computer. I like the idea of having an off site backup on one of my own drives because all of my important data is easily accessible and nearby. If I were to loose my computer and local backups, I could drive over to the location where my off site backup drive sits, plug in a new computer, and restore my files without waiting for long online downloads to finish.

To use CrashPlan's free off site service, you'll need a trusted friend that's using it, too. Your drive connects to their computer, and backups happen only when both of your computers are online. I wouldn't use this as my only bakup option, but it's a great supplement to my already extensive backup routine.

Mobile Backups

My iPhone and iPad need to backup important data, too, and I use iCloud for that. It may not be a perfect solution for everyone, but it's worked reliably for me.

Since iCloud also handles data syncing for my schedule and contacts, I have an extra backup of sorts there, too. My schedule is available on all of my devices, as are my contacts.

More Cloud Backups

I have even more file backups thanks to Dropbox and Drobo's Transporter. Since I use both to store synced files, I have copies of documents on multiple computers. The files on both also live on their respective servers, so if I can always look there for documents I otherwise might lose to a hard drive failure.

Like I said, I hate losing files. I'm always looking for ways to improve my backup process, so tell me about your routine. I'm ready to be impressed.