Backup. backup, backup

December 31, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Everyone knows, or should know, that backups are vital to making sure if some part of the technology fails, data can be recovered.  As content creators, we have huge amount of data to store and archive.   While many folks do well with a simple single backup via TimeMachine or copies to cloud based storage such as DropBox or GoogleDrive, the volume of data becomes cumbersome.  There is a saying that data isn't safe until it is in three places (at least) with one of those places not co-located.  This past year we have had to replace a laptop, rebuild the laptop and recover files.  Without the multiple strategies and redundancies,  recovery across a network isn't possible.  Here is how I made it happen.

I am using an OSX laptop, so the nice part is that TimeMachine is integral and provides a running backup of the system software and current state.  Great for performing a brain transplant to a new computer.  Plug the TimeMachine into the new computer, select restore and away you go.  Also very useful when you drop a new drive in the computer or is something in the OS become corrupt.  What TimeMachine doesn't do is backup deeper storage.  

As a photographer, I have terabytes of data, far to much to keep on a single machine and much of it used infrequently, so it isn't unreasonable to have them one step away from immediate access.  Images that have completed editing are moved off on to one of two NAS devices.  Technically these aren't backups as these become the original file.  Being network attached has the benefit of being accessible whether I am working in my office or on the couch.

Also on our network, we have a MacMini (this could be any computer) with two Drobo multi-disk RAID devices.  The Drobos provide a means of continually expanding storage.  The MacMini runs backup programs to copy the NAS files onto the Drobos.  I use Get Backup Pro to manage the copy.  It is relatively inexpensive and allows for independent scheduling of different tasks.  The copies are set to run in the middle of the night over the course of the week.  I Now we have two copies... one to go.

The MacMini also runs a cloud back-up.  There are several that could be used, we have BackBlaze.  I can check status from my phone, get individual files, or request a full archive be delivered on hard disks.  The cloud backup scans the Drobos looking for changes and then uploading the changed files, making it a mirror of the Drobos, which are the main deep storage.

The system provides multiple layers of backup and was put to the test recently when several failures occurred.  This is the first time we have had something that took more than a hour or so to fix, but, after some time, files were recovered.  And that is the reason for multiple layers.  It is possible, however much improbable for more than one system to fail at a similar time.


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