Leopard backup strategy

Now that I’m on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, it was time to review my backup strategy to make sure that the data I care about is best protected. My only computer is a MacBook Pro that travels around with me a lot. At any moment I can drop it, spill something on it, lose it, have it stolen or the drive could just decide it’s had enough of me.

So yes, I get a little crazy about backups. My backup strategy can’t be anything I need to think about after initial setup. I know the day I’ll forget to do it will be the day I need it. Thankfully, now that all my email is Google I don’t have to worry about backing up that data. I know it’s possible that Google can lose it all, but I’m going to consider that scenario unlikely enough that I’m not going to worry about it.

Here’s what I’m doing:

I have a 300 GB external Firewire drive (not portable) that I used to help my move from Tiger to Leopard a couple of weeks ago.

I partitioned that drive into 2 partitions, making sure to select the option which makes the partitions bootable.

One partition is 120 GB and I’ve dedicated that to SuperDuper. I have that great utility making a bootable clone of my hard drive every morning at around 2 am. It’s with the SmartUpdate setting that only updates what has changed so the backups are quick. You can’t do this with the free version, but it’s worth the $30. Why 120 GB? Because that’s the size of my internal drive (capacity of around 111 GB). Don’t need to give it more than that.

The other slightly larger partition is for Time Machine. Handy if I ever accidentally delete a file or for those times I make changes and wish I had the older version. Time Machine is better than no backup at all, but I can’t see using it as the only backup solution. It’ll be great for quick fixes.

I know I could have kept Time Machine and SuperDuper on the same, unpartitioned drive but I’ve heard too many horror stories about Time Machine wrecking drives. As a matter of fact, Eric had to reformat his Time Machine drive last night after it was causing kernel panics and other crashes on his MacBook. Disk Utility saw problems but couldn’t repair them, so he had to start over. If Time Machine has similar issues attached to my computer, I don’t want it to bring my SuperDuper clone down with it.

I just have to remember to plug in the drive every night.

But the whole external drive can go south. Or I might need a critical file when I’m not home to get it off the external drive. So on top of Time Machine and SuperDuper, I use JungleDisk to copy my documents directory to my Amazon S3 storage space. JungleDisk is just the easy front-end which mounts that storage as a drive. It also allows me to schedule backups so that directory is copied regularly as long as I have a ‘net connection. I don’t understand all the geeky bits of S3, but JungleDisk is very easy to use and configure. My Amazon bills have been averaging around $3 per month for 14 GB of data give or take.

Finally, there’s the outstanding 1Password application which not only securely manages my password and sensitive data when I’m using my own computer, it also syncs on demand with their secure website. Worst comes to worst I can retrieve all that information from anywhere.

I think I have my bases covered.


3 responses to “Leopard backup strategy”

  1. Hi Judi,

    Thank you for mentioning 1Password in your article!

    I was using JungleDisk myself for some time but recently switched to SugarSync. I am still using the trial 45-day 10GB account and will probably upgrade to the 30GB/$4.99 account soon. They still need to polish the Mac application a bit more but I like that SugarSync is automatic and provides web access as well.

    Best regards, Roustem

    Co-author of 1Password