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I'm reviewing my backup plan and would appreciate any thoughts about what more I should do (if anything) to make sure I'm properly covered in case of all hell breaking loose. :-)

I have one machine.

1) I run a nightly clone with SuperDuper. I alternate the clone drive weekly so I have two clones, one never more than a week old.

2) I use BackBlaze as a sort of Time Machine in the cloud. It runs all the time and keeps everything on my machine backed up online.

3) I sync all my 1Password logins, etc. to my iPhone once a week.

...And that's it. I feel pretty covered. But I'm always reading stuff like this:

And that doesn't even mention online backup, and seems like a huge pain in the behind. But maybe I'm being naive? Should I have more backups?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Merlin Mann's article is an elaboration of John Gruber's article. Gruber's article does include an online backup component: Dropbox.

It sounds like you already have some of what Merlin Mann was emphasizing:

  • ✓ automation
  • ✓ rotation
  • ✗ off-site storage
    • You may be missing this.
      Semi-local, off-site backups greatly speed up recovery if you lose your machine and its regular backups at the same time (theft, fire, flood, etc.).
      Online backups have an off-site flavor to them but they are typically much too slow to do a full recovery. Some services will send you a drive with your all data on it, but it costs extra (usually much more than a single, extra drive would have cost) and they usually do not guarantee how fast they will get it shipped out.
  • ✗ extra backups of critical stuff
    • You may also be missing this. It offers extra assurance. It can be nice to have the really critical stuff backed up multiple times and on ultra portable storage (i.e. USB sticks).
    • Useful for when you do not have immediate access to your online backups.
    • Things you might like to keep on portable storage:
      • passwords (1Password, keychains, etc.),
      • critical financial information (account numbers, phone access numbers, URLs, “security” questions and answers, etc.),
      • insurance information (policy numbers, asset lists, serial numbers, identifying marks, etc.),
      • credit card information (account numbers, card numbers, if-stolen phone numbers, etc.)
      • (plain text) "In Case Of Emergency.txt" to cover the case where you might be found unconscious with one of your ‘sticks’ in your pocket.
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Thanks for the reply Chris. The extra backup of critical stuff that you and MacLemon mention makes sense, but does that assume that my online backup fails? I can't imagine my 1Password data changing enough for me to care about losing a week between iPhone syncs, but what other kind of stuff would I keep on that kind of backup? – Chuy77 Mar 18 '10 at 23:17
I have added some examples of emergency data that you might want to carry around with you and have on multiple ultra-portable devices. – Chris Johnsen Mar 19 '10 at 0:53

Regarding: ✗ extra backups of critical stuff

There are files that you would want to have backed up even in between your, let's say hourly backup interval like TimeMachine does for example. For example your Keychains or 1Password files, or your financial files.

Have a way to backup these instantly with not more than a single click. Especially when you're working on the road with a portable Mac. Something like an rsync destination, an FTP Server, an online Volume like DropBox, iDisk or similar comes to mind. (Provided you are willing to trust your data to somebody else.)

For example I have a simple launchd item set up that will automatically push my keychain files to my home server every time they are changed. That way I can be sure that all my valuable password information (an numerous other items I store in notes on my keychains) are always save. Of course Internet access is required for this to work, but that is usually easily obtained with 3G, iPhone tethering or the omnipresent WiFi networks. Might be an issue when travelling though. Having a USB thumb drive ready comes in handy every time.

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Backing up data is more a philosophy than a rigorous method that anyone can tell you is "good enough." Some security people would venture to say that having a backup onsite/offsite is bad because that's another copy that could fall into the wrong hands and might argue that using your own encryption would be better than handing it off to an otherwise unknown party.

But also consider this, the less convenient you make the process of backing up or retrieving lost data, the less likely you are to do it effectively. No plan is perfect just like no web host can offer true, mathematically and legally accurate 100% uptime.

We are human; our bits are imprinted on physical media that will decay.

But keep reading articles on the matter. Merlin Mann is a great source to get you started as you've already mentioned. But only you can decide "what's good enough".

Good luck.

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It looks like you have a great methodology.

I have a few concerns with BackBlaze, in that there are folders they don't backup - including /Applications. The lack of a restore utility isn't great, but I suspect the options they have would be fine if you ever found yourself in a situation where you lost everything.

For other online backups, I've heard good things about Mozy, & Carbonite.

Another compelling online option would be to use a tool like SuperFlexibleFileSynchronizer along with amazon S3 storage. The 'cheap' tier of Amazon storage guarantees your backup is replicated among two different data centers in different locations. Superflexible has a nice file change hook feature that can watch a folder for changes and immediately backup those changes. Superflexible is a really great product for a number of reasons.

Lastly if it's within your budget, consider a time machine backup as well. while SuperDuper is great for Disaster recovery (Crashed or stolen laptop for example), Time Machine is your long time archive - enabling you to easily go back and get a version of your files from 6 months back. I don't know if you've ever seen it, but if you open time machine while you're in Mail, it opens up your mailbox back in time instead of the finder - just go back and find that old message you deleted and click restore and you're in business.

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