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The paranoid person's guide to a complete Mac backup

Rob Griffiths | Dec. 11, 2014
I'm somewhat paranoid about backing up my data files. And by "somewhat paranoid," I mean "petrified." If you're not of a similar mindset, you should be. Consider what it would mean to lose some irreplaceable photos, for instance. Or the please-let-me-keep-my-job presentation that you've been pulling together for months. Or your financial data. Being paranoid in every waking hour isn't a great way to get through life, but when it comes to backing up your data it's nearly impossible to go too far. Here's the multi-level plan I use to keep my paranoia at bay.

Level 3: Paranoid backup

I call this level my paranoid backup, because I always think something can go wrong with my backups. My paranoid backup is another full backup of my files, to supplement both Level 1 and Level 4 backups. I use the Sabrent drive dock and CCC4 for this backup as well; when I insert the Paranoid disk, CCC4 fires off the backup task.

One very useful feature in CCC4 for the paranoid backup is the ability to "chain" backup tasks. Because this is a full backup with files from both the RAID and internal hard drive, I have four separate backup tasks in CCC4. The first task is set to run on disk mount. The following tasks are set to run when the prior task completes.

So my paranoid backup is just as simple to run as my boot clone: I insert the

Paranoid disk, and the magic just happens. When it's done, I remove the drive and return it to its storage location. I usually do this once a day, though sometimes twice if I'm creating a lot of new files.

I'm so paranoid that I even back up my cloud services' files here, even though they reside on every Mac and in the cloud. So yes, I'm paranoid about backups!

Level 4: Offsite backup

The best backup strategy in the world is no good if all of the backups are stored with the computer. You need to keep a set of files in a separate location in case your primary location is visited by fire, flood, theft or other disaster. In my case, that means sending a backup disk to my wife's office.

Our offsite backup is also done on a bare disk, inserted into the Sabrent drive dock. As with the Paranoid backup, it runs via CCC4 on drive mount, and chains together a number of separate tasks to perform a full backup.

My wife brings the drive home once a week, I update the backup that evening, and it goes back in the morning. So yes, we have one night's exposure to a disaster while the disk is home. But I keep the disk elsewhere that night, so at least it's nowhere near the computer.

To remind my wife to bring the drive home, I rely on a simple AppleScript application:

set theAccount to "outgoing@email.address" set the_mailto to "recipient@email.address" tell application "Mail" activate set this_message to make new outgoing message with properties {sender:theAccount, visible:true, subject:"Please bring the drive home", content:{"As the subject says - thanks!"}} tell this_message make new to recipient at end of to recipients with properties {address:the_mailto} end tell send this_message end tell


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