Today over tea I was holding forth about backup methods, which reminded me that I’ve long meant to post something about how I’ve been handling it. To wit: right now, I’ve got a two-part system—constant partial backup online via SugarSync and less frequent but complete offline backup using Time Machine and an external hard drive.
Yes, I got backup religion the hard way, by having my laptop drive fail in 2006 when it was six months out of standard warranty. I was able to salvage most of my data using Prosoft Data Rescue, but only because I happened to notice before it went into a complete dive that the drive had failed its S.M.A.R.T. status test. Now I keep Smart Reporter in my menu bar, and I back up constantly and redundantly, over and over again, a lot. And I always fork up the money for AppleCare, which replaced that dead drive in a weekend.
SugarSync (if you sign up using that link—even for a free account!—I get more storage; win-win) is, as the name suggests, intended for synchronizing files across multiple computers. You can set up folders that are automatically mirrored on all your machines, as well as ones that are merely backed up to SugarSync’s server. I use this to keep all my current freelance projects, schoolwork, 1Password data, and other essential stuff mirrored across all the computers I use, and to keep within reach some less important files that I’m not sure I may need while on the go.
The application is always running in the background, so when I save a file on my laptop, it’s immediately uploaded to some magic place. The next time I turn on my iMac, SugarSync on that machine sees the new file and downloads it; the previous five versions of that file are also saved, so I can revert if I screw up. The first 2 GB of storage are free, but I pay for the basic 30 GB account because, duh, I’m a designer, and I could easily fill up 2 GB with files for a single messy project.
You can also use SugarSync to share files or folders with other people, but I’ve been relying on other sites and applications for that kind of thing—Senduit, DropBox * (again, we both get extra space if you sign up through that link), FileDropper. It’s tidier in my brain that way, for some reason.
It’s fast, it Just Works, and I’ve been very happy with it. Recommended. There are versions for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile, too, though I’m not clear on what one would use those for.
It’s my dream to someday own a Drobo, but so far I haven’t been able to talk myself into it (though I did get the first-generation model for my mom; combined with SuperDuper, it seems reasonably idiot-proof). In the meantime, I’m backing up to a drive that can be plugged right into a Drobo, should I ultimately acquire one. I got a 1 TB drive and a FireWire/USB enclosure kit from Other World Computing, and I back up at least once a week using Time Machine.
One backup method I do not use is Mozy. I bought a subscription, and I’ve tried using it for months at a time, but it runs so slowly that it never managed to back up much of my data, and it hogged the bulk of my system’s resources even while not uploading anything. Uninstalled, thanks. Your mileage my vary, and I freely admit that I did not try to work it out with their tech support people on the second go-round. I’ll give it one last chance, on the iMac instead of the MacBook, before my subscription is up, and I’ll comment below if my opinion changes.
So, how do you back up, and how often?
- Sugarsync vs Dropbox: The Battle of the Cloud Storage Titans, May 20, 2009, by Damien Oh, MakeUseOf
- Folder Sync Battle: Dropbox vs SugarSync, October 23, 2008, by BogdanStroe, Tux Geek
- SugarSync Vs DropBox : File synchronization war is on!, April 14, 2008, ReviewSaurus