A primer to safely store data and managing backups in a simple way.
Backup rule of 3-2-1
- 3 copies of anything. Two isn’t enough if it’s important.
- 2 different formats. Example: Dropbox + Hard Drive
- 1 off-site backup. What if the house burns down?
Which for me translates to:
- A primary (master) copy which consists of all files on my laptop.
- A secondary, encrypted, Time Machine backup on a RAID-1 Synology NAS at home.
- An off-site, encrypted, Time Machine backup on a RAID-5 Synology NAS at work.
What to Backup
- The home folder on your laptop. System files, caches and most applications are expendable
nowadays since they can be redownloaded later. For a critical system you might consider keeping a
bootable system image around though, so that you can be up and running in a very short time
compared to a full system restore.
- Pictures and Movies and everything else deemed important. This stuff usually lives on my NAS,
since I don’t need to lug several GB of pictures and movies with me everywhere I go, and gets
periodically backed up on Glacier.
Always practice restores, at least four times a year (every three months). Wise people say:
Backups always succeed. It is restores that fail.
Make sure to test the worst possible scenario. That is, your data is sitting in the farthest
location, you don’t have network connectivity and have lost access to your password manager
- If you have two copies of your data at home and at work, you don’t need to take your car and try a
restore at the office right now, but make sure to try a restore from both places.
- If you need the network to do a restore, rethink your backup strategy.
- If you need your password manager database to retrieve Amazon Glacier credentials, rethink your
seriously fucked up backup strategy. What if your only copy of the password manager database is
inside your backup?
Never leave a critical piece of information needed to access your backups outside your immediate