Back-Up routine with a Mac, USB drive, NAS and the Cloud

I’ve been digging into how to save my files with the safest and leanest plan…
That means I need to achieve:
* A transparent, “in the background” back-up
* Multiple support to minimize risk of failure
* Multiple location to minimize risk of data loss
* Auto selection of data to back up
* Speed

That has not been an easy one, as I thought. Every solution has its benefits and limitations but I think I have a solid set-up to share, taking advantage of free online services as much as home-made solutions.
Here’s my story:

1. Get Your data organized.

I was happy to start fresh or nearly, with a new computer and some already filtered, organized folders of archives.
So I only had to decide how I wanted to work on my desktop, which files I wanted to access most and how I wanted to be able to fetch them online, and back them up.

4 folders and early workarounds

I’ve settled for 4 folders that represent my activities.
The usual Documents works as a repository for my files. I have for example scanned all official documents here and want to access them easily on all devices.
I’ve created Coding, Business, WiP as additional folders to manage my activities. They all sit on the desktop for easy access and represent daily parts of my activities.
I used MacDropAny to create symbolic links to these folders into the DropBox original one. So all files in my operative folders are automatically in sync with DropBox, which runs in the background.

2. Start to consolidate

So I have my files organized, and I have a first sync in place.
How do I get two other automatic Back-ups in two different supports while not doing anything more at all ?

Here comes the NAS, and TimeMachine (and little app)

I highly recommend, if you’re a heavy mac user and have valuable info on your computer, to invest a bit of money in a NAS. Basically these are Hard Drives connected to your network as a server. And they can be used for a lot of things:
* As a multimedia station to stream video on your TV
* As a download station (Torrent anyone?)
* As a personal cloud set-up (See here for example)
THere are a lot of models and brands on the market. Synology is usually the most recommended one.

Obviously, the one single main use here is as a Backup Station using TimeMachine. That’s an easy set-up, where the NAS is configured to be the disk to hold your TimeMachine datas.

I used TimeMachine Editor in order to lower the frequency of the backups and adjust them to the rhythm of my work.
The software allows you to set the backup increments in more ways than Apple allows: by hour slots (whatever you want), days, etc.
Easy and useful.

3. Two last Hacks and we’re done

I’ve added two twists in my set-up to make is rock solid. It’s also quite transparent to me, completely automated.

DropBox again

I’ve configured automated the NAS to sync with DropBox. Synology has some small software to do that easily. This way, my data is on my computer, on the Cloud and on the NAS. Plus the TimeMachine automation that suck up all the Mac system every day (I’ve set-up a TimeMachine Backup every day at midnight).

Automator beauty

Last things in place. I have an old spare 500GB USB hard drive. I’ve named it BACKUP and build an Automator script that monitor if the hard drive is plugged in the Mac. When so, it automatically sent all the 4 defined folders from the Mac and all their files on a defined folder on the USB Disk.
UPDATE: at the end I changed the script so that I manually launch it when the drive is plugged. Running a monitoring script seems to be consuming too much memory.

So let’s recap:

  1. DropBox for selected folders 24/7
  2. NAS for TimeMachine, everyday at midnight
  3. Duplicate of DropBox on the NAS 24/7
  4. USB backup on folders, on-demand

What do you think ?

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