Backups are essential both on a personal level and perhaps even more within a business context. My work and play are fairly intertwined, so for the purposes of backups in my case I can’t really distinguish the two. What I will explain in this post can be used by someone to backup personal data but will also be useful to freelancers and small business owners.
There are some basic principles with regard to backups, and you should be aware of them.
- 3 copies of anything you care about – Two isn’t enough if it’s important.
- 2 different formats – Example: Dropbox+DVDs or Hard Drive+Memory Stick or CD+BackBlaze, or more
- 1 off-site backup – If the house burns down, how will you get your memories back?
My preferred cloud (off-site) backup system is Backblaze. At home, I have an Apple Time Capsule (you can also build your own using a Raspberry Pi and an external drive). The Time Capsule backs up everything on my laptop together with any attached external drives.
I also have two external drives which I use for photos. I don’t keep any photos on the Macbook, instead, I transfer them all to one of these external drives, then mirror that drive to the second one. So in the case of photos, I have two copies of them on my external drives, another copy in the Time Capsule, and yet another copy in Backblaze. In the past, I used to store another copy of archived photos on Blu-ray discs but I no longer do that as the process was quite time-consuming and I no longer have a CD drive on my laptop. I do however store one extra copy of my photos on a drive that I keep at my parents’ house. Photos and videos are very important to me and hence why I have 4 copies at any point in time. The drive that is at my parents’ house is an absolute last resort and is only updated twice or three times a year. All copies are encrypted.
You will have noticed that this system is not completely automated. It is, unfortunately, impossible to automate it completely because some devices such as my cameras (Sony RX100, GoPro) don’t have the functionality to connect to the internet and take backups on their own. That means that I have to manually connect them to my laptop and transfer the photos to my external drive. When I’m on holiday I try to do that every day. During the rest of the year, I do this once a week and only if I used those cameras during that week.