In honor of World Backup Day, here’s a description of my current backup strategy:
My desktop computer backs up to:
- Time Machine to local drive
- CrashPlan to a separate server in my house which hosts a Promise DS4600 RAID array
- CrashPlan to a friend’s house in another state, where I stashed another Promise NS4300 RAID array
My laptop backs up to CrashPlan to the server in my house, only.
I don’t really like Time Machine for local use, had even worse experiences with it on my LAN (my Mac Pro would frequently kernel panic on resume from sleep, and it hasn’t done that since I moved the TM drive local), and it doesn’t even try to work across the WAN. And TM is slow: even for local use, it seems like TM is almost always running or “cleaning” even if few files have changed since the last run — it will often take > 10 minutes to back up what it reports as 3MB of data (I haven’t used the trick described in the article above to dial back Time Machine from its default hourly backups, and intend to try that now).
CrashPlan has a lot of advantages over Time Machine (in addition to working with computers other than Macs) — it mostly works across the WAN, across networks and firewalls, and it doesn’t take nearly as long to run.
I don’t see the objections to offsite networked backup these days, assuming you have a decent Internet connection. Several different services have unlimited storage for $5/month, CrashPlan among them, but CP one-ups the others by also offering a free option if you host the storage yourself (or a friend does it for you). As for speeds, I have a 5mbps upstream connection and was able to back up about 300GB from scratch in about 10 days. The incremental backups for whatever I change in a day have no trouble running overnight. This is a DOCSIS 3 cable connection; if you have DSL your upload speeds are probably 3x to 10x slower and that could be painful; if you’re lucky enough to have fiber your upload speeds are probably 10x faster and this is a no- brainer; anyway I wasn’t wholly expecting 5mbps to be fast enough to make backups painless but was pleasantly surprised. I look forward to the day when we can take that level of speed for granted.