Let's talk computer backups

Up until recently I’ve had my Macbook connected to a NAS in my house, which wirelessly backed up my computer once every hour. This was good for recovering lost files, or things that I had accidentally saved over. It was also of course great for peace of mind, and included all of my Elektron backups.

Unfortunately the NAS got bricked (it was a “My Cloud” which are notoriously terrible), so now I’m thinking about buying another one. However I’m also considering just using iCloud. If I’m understanding correctly that will save my data as well, though I’m unclear on whether it will save Ableton files, random SYSEX backups etc, or if it just saves Apple’s app data (photos, texts and so on).

What’s everyone’s thoughts on best practice here? I really don’t want to lose over 10 years of work :robot:

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Back up in more places than you think is necessary.

I use Time Machine, iCloud, Backblaze, and external hard drives using SuperDuper.


Fair enough! Apple’s monthly storage plans aren’t terribly expensive anyways.

i keep multiple backups on external hard drives, it’s all there when needed, no monthly fees or anything cloud related :smiley:

carbon copy cloner makes bootable backups with everything saved except redundant caches, it’s essentially a clone

I just pop the drive on the USB port once a while and it tops up changed files, the initial backup takes an overnight

back up the irreplaceable stuff in many places/ different media - reinstalling stuff is a pain, but you can’t always redo stuff or replace memories

a huge usb stick or two used periodically for your precious photos or syx dumps or wavs etc is not gonna cost much as a secondary failsafe to a routine cloud/physical

on at least one occasion I’ve used a cloned drive stripped from its enclosure in a machine, but this isn’t possible on the later Macs, it saves a load of time

arguably you should keep the drives/usb elsewhere if poss too

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redundancy is the way to go. i have all works in progress, samples, finished tracks/releases, photos, music library on raids. some of them are RAID 5 with 4 drives so there’s parity. one drive fails it’s not a big deal. just stick in a new drive and the raid rebuilds itself.

also have an external i use for apple time machine.

i’ve always hated using iCloud whenever i’m prompted to and have disabled it except for phone contacts. it does weird shit sometimes and i don’t understand why.

if you only are using it for 1 device and not your mobile device etc then it’s probably simpler.

if you’re comfortable w/NAS why not just buy a better one than the one that bricked on you?

I do think I’ll go with another NAS. What I like about iCloud however is that it saves me from a situation where everything gets wiped in a physical event (fires, robberies…chaotic breakups), though I’m just not sure if iCloud saves everything?

I also feel like iCloud + Time Machine backups constantly whirring in the background might start to bog things down. Maybe I’ll just buy a USB hard drive that I mail to my uncle in Florida once every few years. UncleTonyCloud :cloud:

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I always wanted a QNAP with SSD buffer. But that’s so expensive. I just don’t backup at the moment. I have a huge NAS with FreeNAS and ZFS with 10 TB - but that should get backupped as well. I hate backups. Until I need them.

Spideroak or Backblaze plus a QNAP or Synology.

I only use SuperDuper! I feel under backed up now. I guess I need one other…will subscribe to the thread to help me pick on too.

(FWIW SuperDuper is very well named.)

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I use TimeMachine for regular backups, with a Seagate Backup Plus that I bought on Black Friday sale several years ago.

I also have an old external drive I got from Pacific Pro Audio years ago, which i still use for backup for DAW files (audio, project files, etc.)

The general rule is that data that’s only in one place exists, data that’s in two places exists but isn’t backed up, and data that’s in there places is backed up. “Places” don’t count as separated if when you delete it one place it goes away in the other, or if there’s a single controller (e.g. a RAID array) that can be corrupted.

It really depends, since backing up some documents and Settings could be easily done in a free Dropbox subscription, but when it comes to larger ammounts of Terabytes, I would suggest a Synology Ds218+ with two IronWolf NAS HDD’s, or, if you are not afraid of a little DIY: A small ITX build with UnRaid. 2nd hand Xeon CPU’s are quite affordable, just keep in mind that you should try to get ECC RAM.

As a second layer for security I am also using pCloud, since it has up to 2TB available, but it is brutally slow when it comes to larger video files…

I’d never buy a Synology again (if only the pro versions - which are again very expensive).

My miniATX with “onboard” Intel g2020 CPU NAS is saturating my 1 Gbit ethernet with ZFS - of course without ECC ram… but ZFS worked flawlessly over 4 years now. I would go that route again. It’s also pretty low power …I bet one Xeon CPU would have 1/2 the power consumption of my whole NAS :sweat_smile:

I use Carbon Copy Cloner for over 10 years. Can’t get any better than that. Never ever use Timemachine. Corrputed twice in three years and you don’t wanna see those error messages I’ve seen…

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That‘s a very neat solution! ECC is just for the extra amount of security, but honestly I have never heard of anyone getting into trouble because of non ECC on ZFS. It‘s just logically something that would make sense, but you won‘t die without it.

Another advantage of a self built system: You can either get Ethernet over TB with 20Gbe in single, or even 40 GBe on a bridged network. A little overkill for some, and really painful to set it up (on Windows 10 at least…), but this is what I use on a daily base for Backups or streaming during live AV installations :slight_smile:

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I use iCloud, having a 2TB account. All my music files now live direct on my icloud drive and I have never encountered an issue. Their is a nifty app as well which I downloaded which allows you to offload files onto icloud and not needing them on your machine so it helps to maximise smaller drives (mine is 500gb)

I also have time machine working constantly and again I have no issues.

And I have an external hardrive with an app called sync folders pro which clones the icloud drive so I have triple backup.

one copy is not a reliable backup for many reasons, in particular — because it’s always possible to lose backup data, for instance deleting them by mistake.
so i have two NASes — one at home and another at the office where i work (since it’s allowed for me).
i suspect you’re not interested in further details much, because it’m on Linux, and my NASes too.