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Right now, I have a 2 TB Samsung drive sitting in a USB enclosure attached to the back of my iMac. All are relatively new (about half a year in terms of the HDD and case) but I'm always afraid of the drive dying.

I was wondering what people would suggest is the best way to me to make my data redundant.

Here are my uses and requirements:

  • Time-Machine-friendly
  • Mac friendly (bonus points for playing well with Windows)
  • Something that requires almost no attention
  • Full data protection
  • Aside as the place I keep my system backups it'll also be where I keep my movies and project archive
  • Gigabyte ethernet or firewire 800

Now, I've thought about going RAID10 or getting something like a Drobo, but I've also been hearing that not everyone actually needs RAID and other solutions are better. I've thought about just getting two 4TB LaCie drives and having an app that will automatically sync the two drives for me, might that be a better choice?

Any tips and advice you guys can give me would be greatly appreciated! This is sort of my first foray into more-advanced backups and data protection so please be gentle.

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You can never have enough backups. That said, I would consider two Time Machine devices (they can be ordinary external hard drives) that you swap between periodically. – user3463 May 2 '11 at 23:03
up vote 2 down vote accepted

RAID is not a backup solution. It doesn't protect you from rm -rf. It protects you from drive failures (differing numbers of drive failures depending on your array size and RAID level).

My data protection scheme for Macs was inspired by jwz's advice. It consists of encrypted compressed sparsebundles on external drives. The nice thing about this setup is that I can rsync the unmounted bundles periodically.

You can coax time machine into backing up to a local encrypted sparsebundle.

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Thanks for the feedback. I was starting to get the feeling that RAID wasn't quite what I needed. The only thing RAID might offer me at this point is not having to have my files spread out on multiple drives. – Doug S. May 3 '11 at 20:04
Still, I keep hearing Rsync and I need to look into that more. – Doug S. May 3 '11 at 20:05

I agree that RAID isn't the best for most users. I don't trust Time Machine either, though I use it for incremental backups. I prefer to back up my Mac partition with Time Machine and periodically make a clone with SuperDuper. I've had issues with Time Machine losing data on restores.

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