My backup strategy

Over the years, I’ve “lost” lots of digital files — photos, music files & documents. By lost, I mean that I actually lost them. I don’t know where they went (they’re obviously gone or stashed in the recesses of a hard drive somewhere). I (thankfully) haven’t endured a fatal hard drive crash, even in all my years as a Windows user, prior to making us a Mac-only household 5 years ago. I’m not slapping my forehead right now over those lost files. Granted, there are probably some digital photos that we might miss, but most of the important photos are in print format, and many are in our online photo gallery. As far as music and documents, well, we’re not missing anything that I don’t have backed up. Any important documents are printed and kept in a fire-proof safe. Digital documents are triple backed up (two are off-site should the house burn down). Music files just aren’t really important to me. Those are a luxury and can always be re-acquired by restoring from backups, ripping CDs or downloading from iTunes.

What’s most important to us are photos and videos — especially those taken since Maly was born. If I lost those, well, I don’t even want to think about how upset the family would be. Ever since Maly was born, I’ve been pretty good about backing up digital photos and videos, but I wasn’t totally confident in my backup strategy. Here is how I used to backup our digital photos and videos (keep in mind, this is all done using OS X):

  1. I create a “Smart Album” in iPhoto on the first of every month. So on April 1st, I’ll create a Smart Album, name it “March 2010” and specify that I want the album to contain all photos and videos in the date range 3/1/2010 to 3/31/2010.

  2. Once the Smart Album has been created, I open said Smart Album in iPhoto. Next I do a “Select All” (Edit > Select All or ⌘ + A).
  3. Then I export all of the photos and videos from the selected photos in the Smart Album (File > Export or ⌘ + Shift + E) and save the photos on my desktop in their own new folder with the following naming convention: “201003 – March Photos & Videos”
  4. Once the photos and videos have finished exporting and are saved in the folder on my desktop, I burn the folder to a DVD. Recently I’ve been having to burn the photos and videos to dual layer DVDs as video files are large in file size.
  5. I also copy the newly created folder to an external 1TB hard drive.

A couple years ago I signed up for and installed Mozy Unlimited Backup, which is an application that runs in the background on two of our computers and backs up all of our files off-site (to Mozy’s servers, where our data is double encrypted and, according to their website “We use strict security policies, military-grade encryption, and world-class data centers to protect your information”).

And just recently I finally duplicated the 1TB external hard drive in step #5 above to another 1TB external hard drive. I use Carbon Copy Cloner to create a block-level disk-to-disk incremental clone, and I’ll keep one of the drives off-site.

So between monthly DVD backups, cloned external hard drive backups and offsite backups using Mozy, I don’t worry any more about losing documents or those precious family photos and videos!

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