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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.

Obviously you'll need to change the script's email addresses to contain valid To and From addresses, and you can change the subject and the text of the email to suit your needs.

I run this script once a week, using a launchagent. (Yes, she could put a repeating reminder on her calendar, but I like to make sure she gets a reminder from me, too.)

Level 5: Double-paranoid backup

This is an automated backup to our Time Capsule of critical work and personal files that runs four times a day via a scheduled task in CCC4. It's fully automatic; I see the OS X notification when the backup finishes, but that's the extent of my involvement in it.

In addition to copying to the Time Capsule, I also copy from the Time Capsule. I use a set of scripts to back up our web sites to the Time Capsule. These backup files are then copied to a backup folder on my RAID three times a day, so that they are also backed up. (These backups of backups eventually wind up on some of the other backups as well.)

I cannot fathom having to use this extra-extra redundant backup, but it makes me comfortable knowing it exists.

Level 6: Cloud backup

If you've read this far, you've probably wondering why I don't just back up everything to a cloud drive somewhere and be done with it. There are a few reasons why I don't it my primary backup target.

I have a lot of data — at nearly 3TB, getting the initial backup done would take forever. I also don't like the thought of using my upstream bandwidth to update a backup on a regular basis. There's also a trust issue: This data is mine, and I don't want to rely on a third party to stay in business in order to get my data if I need it back. Finally, if I do have a major crisis, waiting hours (days?) to download 3TB of data to get back up and running is not my idea of a good way to spend my time.

Despite my general disinterest in a full cloud-based backup, I do back up some key files to the cloud. That way they'll be in yet one more place in the event of a major problem.

Although the cloud services encrypt your data, I'm still a bit uncomfortable trusting that there won't be an exposure somewhere along the line. So before I back up any files to the cloud, I first copy them to an encrypted disk image and then copy that image to the cloud (using a CCC4 task). That way, if someone does get a decrypted copy of what was on the cloud, my data will still be protected, as it was encrypted locally first.


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