Thoughts on backing up

Backups are one of those areas a lot fo folk don’t like to think about. But I love backups and having multiple copies of my work on numerous forms of media. Why? I’m not a paranoid person by nature but am when it comes to my gear. I don’t want to have to worry about a hard drive popping it’s clogs. Some of my projects are worth quite a bit of money as finished products and so it’s important that they’re intact for future re-use.

So here are my thoughts and what I use to get me by.

Time Machine

I’m OS X-based so by default I have a 1TB external drive that covers my Time Machine needs. I’ve used it for about a year and haven’t had the need to do any restores at all. (I must be lucky).


I used to run a tape backup system long ago and one thing that process taught me (apart from the fact that tapes are a PITA to use and are dead slow) is that alternating the backup set gave me as many weeks as I had tapes. Given that hard drives are cheap it’s conceivable that you could have a drive for each day of the week and incrementally backup to each one every night (also a PITA).


I use Synk Pro to automatically sync a copy of what I’m working on to several places. My print work usually resides on an external drive. Website work lives on my Mac’s local drive. I have Synk setup to do several things. The first is to sync my entire local Sites folder to my main external drive and also my NAS. I then setup the major print projects to sync to my local drive (for when I’m away from my studio and need to get access to a particular project). Next I sync the main website projects to my older Macbook Pro - you just never know when you might have to fall back to an old machine.

The Cloud

I haven’t got that far really. I’ve had a play with Arq to beam some select directories to Amazon S3. It’s ok for website backups but I don’t think I’d use it for any print work. It’d just take too long to archive a 6GB annual report for example.

When I do utilise Amazon S3 it’s for storing cPanel backups. I’d previously used backomatic (which was/is great and very easy to setup) for a year before deciding to use CPB. It differs from backomatic in that you have to install it on each cPanel account you have. You also need to setup a CRON to 1. perform the cPanel backup and 2. transfer the tar.gz file over to S3. It can get a litle tedious doing this for several accounts but S3 storage is very cheap and you can tell it to only keep certain files for a specified time. In the case of the CPB archives, I’ve set it to 30 days.

Update: cPanel VPS version now has a feature that lets you backup your entire server to Amazon S3.

This is by no means are perfect setup but at the very least I have all my projects and websites in multiple locations should my main machine kark it or my web server fall over.

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