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Right now we have a single iMac in the house and I have two external hard drives.

One is connected to the iMac and used for TimeMachine backups. The other is a few miles away (thanks Mom!) to act as off-site backup, and I swap them once every couple of weeks.

Thinking of adding another computer to the mix and I don't necessarily want to purchase two more disks to keep it backed up, so I am considering upgrading to TimeCapsule.

But it has an in-built disk.

So how do people either do a) an offsite backup b) swap disks like I used to c) anything that will work similarly!

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Is there room on the disks for both computers to use one drive at the same time? Would you entertain the time capsule going off site or will it need to remain for other duties as well as the backup role? –  bmike Aug 20 '11 at 1:16
    
if I bought the time capsule, I would use it as my wireless router - so it has to stay. So how do people back up their capsule? –  sdg Aug 21 '11 at 13:54
    
You can attach an USB drive to the TC and use the Airport Utility to archive the content of the internal drive. –  patrix Aug 21 '11 at 15:46
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2 Answers

Golden Rule of Backups: Keep it simple!

Swapping disks and storing one of them off-site is a good backup strategy. But it also means that there are some manual steps every time you swap disks and sooner or later you will get it wrong. To avoid unnecessary data loss you don't

  • use one external backup drive for several computers
  • mix backup and other use on the same disk

Given the low costs of adding two additional hard disks to your pool I don't think it's worth the risk to avoid these costs.

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Using one external drive to backup multiple computers is supported by Time Machine. Turning a two-drive swap into a four-drive, two-computer musical chairs seems the opposite of 'simple. –  zzz Aug 20 '11 at 16:24
    
Well, it depends. In a backup setup I want to minimize the data at risk in case of handling error. So if I backup two computers to the same disk and make a mistake in backing up one of them, I may loose the backup of the other computer as well. –  patrix Aug 20 '11 at 19:15
    
I think adding more drives makes the problem worse, not better. –  zzz Aug 20 '11 at 20:54
    
Simple is good. Two more drives would be fairly simple, just swap out both to the offsite at the same time. I was hopeing there was a simple way to backup the time capsule, or swap its disk somehow to keep "down" to two disks total. –  sdg Aug 21 '11 at 13:55
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Carbonite is an online backup service that backs up your computer (Mac or PC) offsite. It cost $59/per computer per year. I don't have it, but I have heard very good things about it.

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