Never rely on one form of backup. Keep several backups, including one off-site.
That way when the hard drive fails and most do sooner or later, you have a bootable clone and you'll be up and running again in no time, with all of your stuff.
I have my clones set to update each night at 3AM, it usually doesn't take very long as they are incremental backups.
Get drives that can connect via your your firewire or Thunderbolt connection, it's faster than going through wi-fi, unless you have no choice.
Keep at least 2 backups, a standard Time Machine one and a clone. I use Carbon Copy Cloner and set it to increment the clone twice daily and Time Machine runs at its default (hourly) settings. I use an online backup service for data only and that backs up in realtime.
That way I can lose no more than a few minutes work.
Time Machine is about as good as backup systems get but as you have discovered it is dependent on a single media. How elaborate a backup system you want to have depends in large part on the value you place on the data. Going one step up from straight Time Machine would be using a RAID array of disks for the backup media. RAID 1 is the least expensive aternative that captures two images on two different drives. My personal preference is RAID 5 which not only has duplicate copies, but is capable of rebuilding any one of the three (minimum number of disks required for RAID 5) on the fly.
At that point your danger is a disaster that would take out your entire location including your backup drive. This leaves two options.
- Making regular duplicates of the backup media and storing them off premesis preferably in a fireproof data storage warehouse. The company I used to work for had data storage vaults in deep underground limestone caves.
- There are now several companies offering online data backup and storage and a variety of storage plans at a wide range of costs. As far as I know their reliability in the event of a disaster has not been thoroughly tested.
In the end I believe there are a few key factors that must be considered regardless of the particular storage plan you use.
- Backup should be frequent (I like at least once an hour)
- Backup should be completely transparent to the user. If it requires user action it will be overlooked and neglected when it is most necessary.
- Data recovery should be very easy and fast
- The storage media should be readable and accessible for the long term. (CDs and DVDs were once touted as ideal for this, but real world experience has revealed optical discs deteriorate much faster than previously thought. Burned optical media over two years old shold be suspect. And who would have believed that the latest computers do not even have optical drives built in?
Sorry to hear of your predicament. Here on tips on maintaining a "fool proof" restore and disaster recovery system. I talk about restore systems, not backup systems. The goal is restoring the data when needed with minimum loss. The philosophy is defense in depth.
For an in-depth teatment on this topic see PlotinusVeritas' excellent dissertation on this subject:
Ideal philosophy and security of your valuable data
"Pros" maintain multiple backups, not just one, and not just two. The external media is cheap and the data is highly valluable so the equation is simple. You want multiple backups. You store only backup data on a backup volume.
You want to store at least one restore volume not in the same building as your Mac. This is for a marjor disaster recovery such as fire, flood, theft…
You also want to maintain the backups in two different formats: Time Machine backups and clone backups.
The beauty of Time Machine backups is they are easy to keep up to date and they are useful for going back into time for accidentally deleted or corrupted files. It will also backup multiple volumes (such as the internal disk/SSD and an external disk) as long as the restore volume is big enough to hold the data in use.
The downside of TM is its complexity. I have had TM restores fail and I was very glad I had a second copy.
The beauty of clones are their simplicity and immediate recovery. You can create clones with several software systems (including Disk Utility) but I prefer an inexpensive software system called Carbon Copy Clone. PlotinusVeritas introduced me to this recovery system recently in these Community postings and love it.
CCC will make a bootable copy of your internal disk. You get one copy as of the latest backup so you cannot go back in time but instead you have a very simple method to recover your data. For example if you have an internal disk (as opposed to an SSD) you simply replace your internal drive with the cloned drive and you are up and running immediately You can also plug it in as an external drive and boot from it immediately. It is less error prone than TM. The first time you run it, it does a full backup. In subsequent runs it copies over only files that have changes so it is a quick backup.
The downside of CCC is you usually run it manually. You can keep a clone disk plugged in and CCC will maintain a schedule when to backup (such as nightly).
So for a reasonably complete system you would have four backups: One TM and one CCC backup onsite and the one TM and one CCC backup offsite. Then occasionally swap the onsite and offsite disks to keep the offsite disks reasonably current.
When it is time to restore you have a choice. The TM backup will probably be more up to date than the CCC backup. So I usually start with a TM restore and if that does not work fall back to the CCC volume. If my CCC restore volume were reasonably current I would start with that. Others who don't trust TM as much as CCC and don't mind losing the updates that happened between the latests TM and CCC backups use the simpler and more immediate CCC restore. I start with a ™ restore with CCC as my fallback position.
May you recover your photos and then back them up with defense in depth.
Thanks for pouring in the information.
In the meanwhile that u guys replied, i spent the afternoon and evening doing my own research and troubleshooting.
First with the troubleshooting. I managed to recover the iPhoto library using data rescue 3. Also, the drive managed to mount automagically and got a message from os x asking to format the drive ASAP.
I believe the problem is not with the drive but with OS X 10.8.5 as another user on this forum noted the same problem after upgrading to 10.8.5. When i ran an integrity check and a disk verify with drive genius 3 post formatting, everything was reported as being fine! Will observe for a few days.
Also, i did my research and i think ill settle for a raid 1 NAS storage from LaCie. If i am not wrong ill be able to use the 4 TB drive on it for time machine and as a multimedia storage at the same time the second drive will automatically keep a clone.
My question then is that in the event of the TM backup getting corrupted, will the clone get corrupt as well?
> My question then is that in the event of the TM backup getting corrupted, will the clone get corrupt as well?
In general no. TM is much more complex than the clone backup so TM has more chance of failing than a clone. That is the beauty of clones.
You could keep your TM backup on your NAS server and one clone onsite and one offsite for a defense in depth. If you store other critical non-TM data on the NAS server you should back that up as well.
Yes. You are welcome.
> another user on this forum noted the same problem after upgrading to 10.8.5.
You should have two current backups (one TM and one clone) before attempting any major changes such as upgrading from 10.7 to 10.8. The problem most likely is not in the 10.8.5 install. Few people have had trouble with that upgrade.
Good question about RAID-1. It increases the reliability of the hardware but it does not increase the software reliability of TM and it requires more system management than a single disk. It also costs more.
The underlying theory is to avoid a single point of failure. RAID-1 is more reliable than a single disk but it is still a single point of failure. Clones ensure against a single point of failure. So RAID-1 NAS will work fine for the TM backup if you also have clones. I think that is overkill for the TM backup media. So you need not worry about the singe-disk reliability of the TM backup volume.
NAS RAID-1 storage prices: $200 to $300.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=raid+1+nas&tag=googhydr-20&index=elect ronics&hvadid=13314955447&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6637788891981545795& hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_87cp4xc9fc_e
Non-RAID-1 NAS (wireless storage):
$100 to $200.
Or wired drives from $50 to $150.
You will want wired drives (USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt) for the clones. The clone disks need only be as large as your internal storage so disks in the $50 to $75 range will usually do.
For TM drives you will probably want disks twice the size of your internal storage so wireless or wired 1TB drives will probably do.
P.S. Several people in this Community have remarked they would avoid WD drives.
In regards to offloading your photos and other large files:
If you have enough internal storage, and if you have good backups, then it is easier to manage using and backing up that data by keeping it on the internal drive. If you have an SSD your internal drive or multi-TBs of data this might not work. However, if you have an internal disk and the Mac is out of warranty and you are filling up your internal drive, you can upgrade the internal drive to a larger one (or have someone do it for you).
A single, internal disk is easier to manage because if you offload critical data to an external drive you will need to back that up as well.