I back up my files remotely using rsync. For the Mac Erin and I share, on which we keep gobs of pictures, video, and the like, that’s not feasible given our limited bandwidth. Erin is good at archiving files to DVD, but it’s time consuming. So we established a quick and dirty way to keep things backed up day to day:
- We bought two identical external hard drives, 400GB each. Since speed isn’t that critical, we didn’t spring for anything super-fancy.
- I formatted the drives and named one “xtaa” and one “xtbb” so they were easy to differentiate.
- I created directories on each drive which correspond to the names of the locations we want to back up:
- “Whatever” for /Volumes/Whatever/ (our “scratch drive”, used for media and other stuff)
- “Users” for /Users/ (where user data lives in Mac-land)
- “Applications” for /Volumes/Mac/Applications/ (not necessary, but what the heck)
- Then I wrote two short shell scripts (“synch-aa.sh.txt” and “synch-bb.sh”) with three rsync entries, one for each location:
rsync --delete -av /Volumes/Mac/Users/ /Volumes/xtaa/Mac/Users/
Now backing up is down to two steps. From Erin’s account, which is an administrator, we open a shell and type:
sudo bash (then enter password)
The first backup took a while. Subsequent backups are quick, since rsync only backs up files which have changed (and just the differences between files, to boot). The
--delete flag deletes files first, to ensure there’s room for new files (an issue if Erin is video editing).
And finally, because backup ain’t backup unless it’s off-site, I rotate the hard drives to and from another location every two or three days (and then use the other script). Not a perfect system, but definitely worth a few hundred bucks, and a nice supplement to Erin’s good work filling a firebox with DVDs.