5

I want to make any possibility of losing files on my Mac completely obsolete.

Time Machine is awesome, but saving files to single physical hard drive is, well, not safe at all. So, I guess, what I need is to back up Time Machine's backup to a cloud and make sure that my files are being stored in more than one copy in different locations. Then possibility of losing files is too insignificant to bother ever.

And the second thing is encryption. Time Machine backups are not encrypted! Why, Apple? So, I need to encrypt it before saving to the cloud. This, probably, makes it even more complicated, as now i have one huge file instead of bunch of smaller independently synched files.

Are there ready-to-use solutions? This problem seems quite important, so probably it's solved already, right? Though, I haven't found anything.

Among possible solutions, i see this one: Backup data to a Time Capsule and backup Time Capsule to Google Cloud Storage using Syncovery, as suggested here. Though, I'm not sure how easy it will be to setup backing up from Capsule to the cloud.

  • Have you considered, rather than backing up the backup - which has a rather convoluted method of keeping track - instead just backing up the Mac itself to an off-site location. Services such as Backblaze do exactly that; though they back up everything except the OS itself, which is of course easily re-obtainable. – Tetsujin Dec 9 '17 at 9:58
  • @Tetsujin thank you for your suggestion. Time machine provides unique UX features, so it can't be replaced. Backing up everything, including OS is the main feature of the time machine. Otherwise, i'd consider to just use google drive. Though, you gave me an idea: if i'll loose software configurations, it would be unpleasant, but not so serious problem. And it can occur only if i'll loose my mac along with time capsule, which is unlikely. But the most important data can be stored in github and google drive and this would be enough. Thank you! – user208958 Dec 9 '17 at 10:14
  • Do you really need a history of your system configuration and your OS installs? I do TM, weekly full images on external drives, and offsite backups of Documents, Photos etc., worked out pretty well so far. – nohillside Dec 9 '17 at 10:58
  • yes, because if i'll loose it, it will mean days, may be weeks for recovery, which means big looses for my business. – user208958 Dec 9 '17 at 11:00
  • That's what a full image would cover as well (the recovery part), without going through the hassle of backing up your TM disk. – nohillside Dec 9 '17 at 13:56
6

Don't backup a backup. It's not only complex at times, it also assumes that backup is a good one, which you shouldn't assume.

I like to follow the 3-2-1 guideline: 3 backups, 2 media, 1 (at least) off-site.

This kind of falls under the "3 backups" category. If you have time machine, find a different backup format to store things in.

Some options: you could look into traditional Linux-style backups, with utilities such as dd or tar. I personally recommend Carbon Copy Cloner (here: http://www.bombich.com/); some people prefer SuperDuper! (here: https://shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/SuperDuperDescription.html) more. There's also cloud backup solutions like CrashPlan (here: https://www.crashplan.com/en-us/business/) or BackBlaze (here: https://www.backblaze.com).

You can combine them sometimes too; going back to the more traditional Linux style, there's a service called tarsnap (here: https://www.tarsnap.com) which accepts backups in the tar format.

Online backup services typically cost $10-$20/mo, whereas software like Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper! cost a one-time fee for a license, and the software is used to create the backup (and update it periodically) onto a local hard-drive. I highly recommend having two hard-drives that you rotate as often as you can, and one of them is stored offsite.

  • 1
    What's a "Linux style" backup? dd and tar came from the original UNIX. dd, in fact, meant "data definition" in the original JCL for punch cards. tar is "tape archive" which is a utility to add files to a sequential file like those found on reel-to-reel tapes. These things predate Linux, and it's inventor (Linus Torvalds born in 1969) by a couple decades. – Allan Dec 10 '17 at 13:58
  • Oh, didn't know that. – Harv Dec 10 '17 at 17:17
5

You should use multiple levels of backups, not a series of backups.

The difference being with a "series" of backups (backup of a backup of a backup etc.) you run the risk of backing up garbage if there is a failure making subsequent backups worthless (think of a failed bulb in a string of Christmas tree lights).

It's also important to note that backup is a strategy, not a product you buy.

Having multiple levels of backups works by taking different paths to securing your data. The key here to recovery is to not get your system back up and running, but being able to get back working as quickly as possible.

To illustrate the difference and the usefulness of this strategy, think about what you would do if something catastrophic happened (your Mac physically blew up) and you couldn't get another Mac for a week, but had access to a PC.

  • Time Machine backup for the whole system

  • Documents & Data

    • Replicated to on site NAS
    • Synced with OneDrive cloud service
  • Application settings (Preferences, templates, etc.)

    • Synced to iCloud drive
    • Replicated to on site NAS
    • Synced with OneDrive cloud service

As for the NAS, (I personally) use one with a with RAID one for hard drive redundancy with multiple USB hard drives for backing that up. How is this configured?

  • NAS with RAID HDDs
    • USB backup for whole system
    • USB backup for incremental daily backups
    • Synchronization with additional cloud service (OneDrive, DropBox)

What does all of this accomplish?

Let's take a look at a single document (maybe a payroll spreadsheet):

Document -> Time Machine
         -> Sync to OneDrive
         -> NAS -> RAID Array
                -> NAS backup to USB drive
                -> Selected volume backup to USB drive
                -> Selected volume sync to OneDrive

What this means is that your document is in many places with three different paths minimizing the chance of data loss if any one path fails. Also, by not depending on Time Machine as the only backup strategy, you can get back working if you are in a situation where you have no access to an equivalent or newer Mac.

Does this work?

Absolutely. I run at least 3 VMs on my iMac and when the HDD crashed I had everything back up and running on a PC I had the garage running within 30 mins while I waited for the replacement parts to arrive.

Could I have used dedicated for pay services? Certainly, but if you depend only on what's out of the box with these services and not strategically implement their services, you may end up with backups of data that are of no use.

0

Allan's answer is a very good one.

A less complicated option is just to have three separate backup drives, connecting two at any time. Keep one somewhere else, and periodically rotate. If one drive fails, you still have two. If the house burns down, you still have the remote one.

I have been considering using a one-TB cloud service to keep a sync of /Users but haven't actually tried it yet. Might not work, since some of the directories in ~/Library are SIP-protected.

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