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Please help me customize by back up strategy for OS X

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I am a very long time veteran of Mac OS 9 and Retrospect. I recently upgraded to OS X and I find my DAT 3 tape drive can't keep up with the size of the new system and the many large files (movies, iTunes, etc.) so I need to come up with a new strategy. I have a home-based graphic arts business so I have some large work-related files as well and I must take care to have incremental back ups and offsite backups of these files. Also, I am getting old and find it hard to cram into my head all the latest tech info that must be accounted for to make sure all contigencies are covered. For example, having to make sure that I have exact copies of system, software, updaters to software, registration codes, Retrospect boot/recovery CD, and what have you, is just too much for me. I will forget something and my restoration will fail or be greatly delayed when I need it. Also, because I want a life beyond computer back ups, I would like to create a strategy that will work for at least 3 years so I don't have to re-think it before then. Here is what I propose.


Forget about my tape drive (which has issues due to an Adaptec SCSI card anyway), and purchase 2 large firewire disks. Each disk will have 2 partitions: 1 for a bootable clone and the other for incremental back up of only key files (home folder and any jobs stored outside home folder). I will rotate the 2 firewire disks (one to an offsite the other next to my computer).


Restoration scenario 1: My hard disk crashes. I can just boot and run from the external firewire drive currently on site.


Restoration scenario 2: A file gets damaged, corrupted or accidentally altered in a bad way. I pull the most appropriate previous version from the archive partition of the external firewire drive currently on site.


Restoration scenario 3: I return from vacation to find my house has been robbed and all the computer equipment is gone. I buy a new Mac and connect the offsite external firewire drive and immediately start working on my jobs with a fairly recent version of my system prefs and data.


Given my situation, can you find fault with my plan? What about proposing a better plan? It's getting so that I have no desire whatsoever to have any back up that does not include in some form a bootable clone. It's also getting so that I can longer afford or want to deal with tapes. I loved them when they worked but current storage technology has outstripped the capacity of my current DAT and I cannot afford to invest in a more robust tape system.


I hope you guys have some words of wisdom. Also, If anybody has a good idea for offsite hard disk storage, let me know. The place I currently store my tapes is too small for a hard disk.

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I think you've done a good job figuring out the up to date way of backing up. I did what you are planning to do by using two HDs, with one off-premises.



1) I do a copy/duplicate/finder-type backup one night and a proprietary Retrospect incremental backup on alternate nights with scripted schedules. I would use the Retrospect backup for a complete restore and the readable backup for the occasional restoral of a particular file.


2) I suggest a complete backup rather than a partial backup of key files. I've had to completely restore on three occasions and never again want to go through what I did the first time from a partial backup--re-enter applications, updates, registration codes, and preferences.


3) Above is the overview. Actually, I use a 250GB drive and have room for multiple backups. I alternate two Retrospect backups (as well as the duplicate) and recycle each one every four months, using a two month offset. That way I always have two months worth of snapshots at recycle time.

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>>>I do a copy/duplicate/finder-type backup one night and a proprietary Retrospect incremental backup on alternate nights with scripted schedules.<<<


For the duplicate, do you use Retrospect's Duplicate feature or some other method?


I investigated some offsite options today and there are two feasible ones that come to mind. A large safe deposit box at the bank will comfortably hold an extra hard drive or two. Also, a large PO box at my local mailboxes, etc./ups store will do the same. The mailboxes, etc./ups store manager said several of the people renting the PO boxes are using them to store their offsites so I guess others have the same idea. Not free but a good alternative if no family or close friend is close by enough or reliable enough.

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