Are you Disaster Proof? Backups and Bootable Copies

As a Internet Marketer my life revolves around my computers. I do pretty much everything except cash checks through them (hopefully that will change soon as well) so its pretty critical that they are always working well and that just in case I have a backup.

Lets be very clear here: I have never had a really good backup plan in place. Up till just a few months ago I was in a situation where if my main laptop harddrive failed I would be out of business and probably in big trouble with my clients. As I have gained more clients I realized that a lot of information on my hard drives is very critical to my ability to make an income. After reading John Gruber of Daring Fireball’s experience with a hard drive failure I decided to create a back up system.

First of all I bought a really big 2TB external drive from Amazon by Western Digital. (You can now, just 4 months later, get a 3TB drive for what I got my 2TB drive for.) Then I decided I would use a 2 system setup for ensuring I was covered from almost any kind of issue:
#1 I setup Time Machine to a 1.7 TB partition on the external drive. Since Time Machine does hourly backups and eventually uses all the space it is given this part gives me iterative backups going back many months. This means that I have access to really old versions of documents that I may have since deleted on purpose but can still go back and access. With Time Machine I can backup not only my laptop hard drive but also my other external hard drives where I store music and movie files for performance and archival purposes.
#2 I setup SuperDuper to a 300GB partition on the Western Digital because my laptop drives total space is 250GB. I will let SuperDuper explain what it is that they do:

Our tagline, Heroic System Recovery for Mere Mortals, tries to sum up the whole idea: SuperDuper! is designed to provide excellent failover support for the all-too-common case where things fail in a pretty catastrophic way, such as when a drive fails, or your system becomes unbootable. We do this by quickly and efficiently creating a fully bootable copy of your source drive. Perhaps more importantly, recovery is near immediate, even if the original drive is completely unusable, because you can start up from your backup and continue working.

via Shirt Pocket Watch – Time’s Arrow Redux.

#3 I have a Dropbox account where I put all my work files and folders. This gives me automatic backups to Dropbox’s remote servers so even if I havent run a backup in a while I can always access the files there. Dropbox also has a ton of useful features beyond backups and its Free to use. I have a 50GB account with them as I work with large image files, this costs me $10 per month.

This means that I now have interative backups in case I need to access an old file and I have a bootable copy of my laptop drive. Time Machine covers me in case I save the wrong version, accidentally delete, or otherwise lose a file I need to have. SuperDuper covers me in case there is a catastrophic failure of my laptop drive and I can immediately restore and get back to work.

The next step will be getting another harddrive which gets a monthly backup and storing that offsite somewhere. The reality is that my career is based on these really technical and fragile devices so I need to be as proactive about protecting the data they contain as possible.

Here is a great wikipedia page on Hard Drives with a nice rundown of how quickly the technology has advanced:

  • Driven by areal density doubling every two to four years since their invention, HDDs have changed in many ways, a few highlights include:
  • Capacity per HDD increasing from 3.75 megabytes to greater than 1 terabyte, a greater than 270-thousand-to-1 improvement.
  • Size of HDD decreasing from 87.9 cubic feet (a double wide refrigerator) to 0.002 cubic feet (2½-inch form factor, a pack of cards), a greater than 44-thousand-to-1 improvement.
  • Price decreasing from about $15,000 per megabyte to less than $0.0001 per megabyte ($100/1 terabyte), a greater than 150-million-to-1 improvement.[5]
  • Average access time decreasing from greater than 0.1 second to a few thousandths of a second, a greater than 40-to-1 improvement.
  • Market application expanding from general purpose computers to most computing applications including consumer applications.

via Hard disk drive – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

What is your backup plan?

Published by Roger

Roger has been building websites since 1996 and had drunk the kool aid when it comes to living and breathing online culture. After spending time at Godaddy selling domain names and hosting he dabbled in telecom selling CDN services for Limelight Networks and Level 3. In 2009 he realized the best way he could help businesses was to start his own focused on building websites, getting traffic to visit, become customers, and then service them more effeciently. He obsesses over content strategy, ad testing, page load speed, online services, support efficiency, and where to go on vacation. He lives in Phoenix, AZ with his beautiful wife, Kate, and two dogs: Bonzai and Zeke. He wants to know about your business and how to help you get more customers and service the ones you have even better. Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn