Working with terabytes of crucial data at work and making sure they are backed up with varying different strategies is one thing, but backing up your most precious data at home is another.
At home, I’ve got around 750GB of data. 400GB of that is iTunes data which whilst it would be a pain in the ass if I lost it all, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I’m quite into photography and with 3 children to photograph I have a LOT of photos and videos. If I lost any of that data then it quite possibly would be the end of the world as we know it. Ok, probably not that bad but considering my career involves large amounts of data, loosing my most precious data would be a bit embarrassing.
So, how do I store my data and backup by stuff.
Firstly, you should know that although I administer Windows systems all day, at home Im actually a Mac man. My latest machine is a late 2012 core i7 2.3ghz Mac Mini with 16GB RAM and a 1TB internal hard drive.
So, now thats out of the way lets get to the data. I don’t actually keep much data on the internal drive. Mainly because I like to separate my data away from the OS drive. Yes I could partition the drive but I find it much easier to know that I have a dedicated data drive and a dedicated OS drive.
The general rule when storing data is:
If your data doesn’t exist in at LEAST 3 places, then it doesn’t exist at all
At the moment, I have 2 x 2TB external hard drives. These are USB3 so the data transfer rate is pretty quick. One one of the 2TB drives I store ALL my data. Everything is divided up into folders and various programs such as Adobe Lightroom and iTunes are all configured to look at this drive for the data. The 2nd hard drive is an exact copy of the first just a few hours behind. I use a utility called CarbonCopyCloner (Mac) to create an exact copy of the main data drive once a day. This ensures that should the main data drive break, I at least have a backup thats no more than 24 hours old (worst case scenario)
Here, I could instead use a RAID 1 / 5 system but I’ve often found that if you want a reliable system thats less prone to file system corruption then you need to shell out for something like a Drobo which costs around £350 without drives. The nice thing about the external drives I have, is that I can always take them out the enclosures and get at my data on another mac if needed.
Im luckily enough to have a need for my own server at home. Not just for holding data but also for studying and lab work. Last year I brought myself a HP Microserver. These little boxes are brilliant, low powered and can be run on pennies. All my data, is copied wirelessly from my mac mini to my server once every 3 days. I have a wireless N network and am getting an actual transfer speed of around 12MB/s so its actually quite fast for wireless. The first backup takes some time but after that its only incremental so completes quite quickly. Again, CarbonCopyCloner transfers the data when scheduled
Now, backup 1 & 2 are great, but what happens if I’m burgled or there is a fire and my computer and server are destroyed?
This is why its very important to have a secure external backup. I have a 1TB portable USB3 drive that I keep at my parents house. This drive contains only my documents (i don’t have many) Photos, and videos. iTunes data doesn’t get backed up from here on out. At least once a month I use CCC to compare and copy all the data from my DATA drive onto the External drive. Takes minutes but could be the difference between me loosing everything or just a little.
Ok, well did I mention how precious all the photo’s and videos are? It might be a little OTT but I REALLY don’t want to loose anything. Ive recently discovered CrashPlan (Windows, Mac, linux), to simplify things, its an online data backup solution.
The client sits on your computer and backups up folders you specify to the crashplan data servers. This is bundled with all types of security so that only you can access your data. I have this sitting on my server backing up my photos and videos. It took me around 28 days 24/7 to upload 360GB’s of data using my Virgin 2Mb/s upload. With my current 60Mb/s download connection and traffic shaping that Virgin impose, I estimate it would take around 7 days to re-download all my data in the event of a catastrophic failure of multiple hardware devices at home. Its pretty simple to use and only costs me £4 a month for unlimited data. If you’re backing up under 10GB’s then I believe its a bit cheaper still.
Remember; documents can mostly be re-typed. Photos and video’s of your children cannot.
How much is your data worth to you?