Incomplete Backup

by Randy Murray on May 13, 2014

I live in a digital world. All of our family photographs from the last dozen years or more are stored on a hard drive connected to our home computer. And all of our music.

As is all of my work, not just for clients, but also my plays and creative work.

I backup continually and automatically using Apple’s Time Machine. I backup online using Crashplan. I duplicate my drives using Superduper.

And yet, this backup is incomplete. I believe it’s impossible to be too paranoid about backups.

To be really covered in the case of a disaster, I need an offsite backup. And I’m doing that.

Are you?

Too many people have no backups at all. Storing your photos and documents on an external hard drive is NOT a backup. Dropbox is NOT a backup. A backup is separate from the original files. A backup is a duplicate. And the best duplicate is somewhere other than where your files reside.

Take, for example, a worst case scenario. Someone breaks into your home while you are absent and steals your computers and drives. They are very thorough. Or your home is swallowed up by a sinkhole. EVERYTHING is gone. Let’s not forget to mention tornados, hurricanes, fires, floods, and the most likely of disasters: you. Most data loss comes from people screwing up in some spectacular and unexpected way.

If you’ve made an online backup, you’re covered, but it might take weeks to restore your file (or you might have to pay to have a drive with your backups shipped to you). But if you’ve made a backup copy and stored it somewhere else, you’re covered, at least from the time of your last remotely stored backup.

Hard drives fail. I don’t make the rules. All drives must fail. An incomplete backup will almost certainly cause you headaches and heartache.

Get a little more paranoid about your backups. I highly recommend Joe Kissel’s book Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac. Get it. Read it. Follow Joe’s advice.

And, perhaps, get just a bit more paranoid about backing up your electronic life.

Incomplete Backup by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Matthew Guay May 13, 2014 at 10:22 am

The biggest problem with backups today is that, even with offsite backups, most people’s backups today will still be incomplete since so much of our info is locked away in web apps. Unless you take the time to export everything for each backup, your Google Docs and more will still not be in your backup. That makes backing up files far more difficult today than it used to be.


Randy Murray May 13, 2014 at 10:27 am

So true. Just because Google stores it (or someone else) doesn’t mean that it’s backed up.

So much heartache ready to happen.


Nic Lake May 13, 2014 at 11:40 am

Right now, my backups are:
1) Time Machine
2) Time Machine that’s 1 month old, off site
3) Dropbox (critical files I want to access anywhere)
4) Backblaze
5) Separate local backup of my iTunes music
6) Separate local backup of all of my music I make

I’m obsessive.


Randy Murray May 14, 2014 at 7:44 am

You could be even more obsessive.

How? Add daily rotated offsite backups.


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