Backup strategies for Digital Data Hypochondriac

data-backup

I don’t know if the expression “Digital Data Hypochondriac” is clear enough. They are people always worried to lose all their digital data. Every time any components of their digital ecosystem doesn’t work as expected they’re scared.

I’m one of them. In 2000, when I was 15, my huge 14 GB hard disk contains almost all my digital life. One day the HD controller burn (literally, because of a short circuit) and I lost everything. EVERYTHING 🙁

backup

Since that day I became “hypochondriac” about backups. Now, working with multiple huge projects and living as digital commuter I need a safe backup strategy able to handle almost any problem. Here is what I do.

My digital ecosystem is made by different “objects”: Macbook, iPhone, iPad and several online services (iCloud, Google Documents, GMail, Dropbox, Evernote, Todoist, 1Password, …).

For mobile devices and online services is available an online backup directly from provider (iCloud for Apple devices and application, Google Drive for Google services, …). Anyway, to be safe I take a snapshot of these services and devices twice a month.

My aggregated digital footprint is about 550 GB.

Everything single byte is on my Macbook. Obviously doing so, my notebook became a fucking single point of failure and this is not a good choice. Notebook backup strategy is on three different levels.

Apple Time Machine

time_machine

Everyday, during usual work, I run Time Machine in order to backup data on a WD My Passport Ultra 1TB. I choose this disk because use a single platter and hardware failures are less frequent. Backup happens incrementally about every hour and you can restore a single file from versioned snapshots.

my-passport-ultra

Backblaze

backblaze-storage-pod

backblaze-logoUnfortunately external hard disks are safe but are a piece of hardware I usually take with me during commuting and everything could happen. I can loose my bag, someone can stole it or I can broke the disk hitting something. Online backup is a great complement and Backblaze is a great provider. You just need to install their agent, generate encryption key and backup starts. Backup is encrypted client side so your data isn’t vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attack and is safe on servers based in US. If you lost your data you can download it as zip or buy an hard drive shipped to you containing you snapshot. 30 days of historic on your files are available.

Carbon Copy Cloner

carbon-copy-clonerYou can assume to be safe with Time Machine and Backblaze but they are both incremental backups. After 30 days or when the hard disk is full, old data is deleted. This is ok almost every time except when you absolutely need it. To be safe is better to take a monthly snapshot using Carbon Copy Cloner. It creates an mountable snapshot of the disk you can easily access. A 5TB hard drive could retain 9 or 10 months of historical data and you can archive them in an easy way.

Amazon Glacier

amazon-glacier-logo3 levels of backup are definitely enough. However some kind of data are really important for me. My Personal photos and documents related to my family, health and house is better tu have a long-term copy. Amazon Glacier is the right place for that. Pack these files per month, TAR them, calculate the checksum then upload them to a given bucket on S3 and configure lifecycle in order to archive on Glacier after 1 day. Pricing is between $0.70 and $1.10 a month for 100 GB.