Create a Backup System:
Peace of Mind is Your Reward!
The first step in your new 'belt and braces' regime is the creation of a Backup System.
Later, I'll cover the backup of files on hard drives and within specific folders.
Do you have your own tried and tested methods for making a backup system? Simply click here to share your knowledge with other visitors!
First of all, let's outline two different methods of working...
Scenario 1: Data on Multiple Hard Drives (The Workstation)
In my day-to-day life, I have four Apple Mac workstations running in my studio.
In each computer, I leave the main hard drive (the one installed when brand new) dedicated to the system and applications.
I love to keep things running efficiently and simply, you see.
All other files, invariably of a large photographic nature created in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, are held on other hard drives.
I'll cover backing up the latter shortly but, for now, we're concentrating on the system drive.
If you don't follow this working practice now, I can thoroughly recommend it for the following reasons:
- Your computer experience will be faster. One hard drive head reads the system and applications only, the other hard drive heads can stay focussed on reading the data you are working on;
- Your system runs efficiently as plenty of free disk space is left available (hard drives just love free disk space!);
- The load is spread and avoids having your eggs in one basket if one level of the backup regime fails.
Scenario 2: Everything On One Hard Drive (The Laptop)
We're not all working from static workstations with the possibility of a setup involving multiple hard drives, right?
Many of you will be dedicated to laptops where everything is on the one internal drive.
A huge part of my life revolves around my laptop too which, by default, must run the system and all the other data in order to keep it truly portable...
Data ranging from music to photos movies to admin to letters to web-browsing, not to mention emails...!
The list goes on—we demand so much of our computers these days.
Backup of Scenarios 1 & 2
In essence, although quite different ways of working, the two scenarios outlined above need an identical primary backup solution:
They both need a bootable clone.
'Bootable' means that you can start ('boot') your computer from the backup system.
In Scenario 1, if the hard drive fails whilst running the system and applications , the ideal outcome is to have a bootable identical hard drive.
The same in Scenario 2 but, in this case, the one drive will be holding the system, applications and everything else!
To do this, I use a piece of software called
It's an excellent, cheap tool that does exactly what I need it to do—it creates an exact clone of a hard drive.
If that hard drive contains a system, it will also make it bootable. Perfect!
Each of my studio workstations has a dedicated backup hard drive purely for the system.
If the system fails on any of those computers, the backup system made with SuperDuper! means I can be up and running again within moments (with a new replacement drive put on immediate order to replace the dead one, of course!)
SuperDuper! also has a cool smart update feature whereby it only updates data recognised as being new since the last time, so you don't have to clone the whole drive every time.
A smart update can take just a few minutes .
I won't attempt to rewrite the manual as the guys at Shirt Pocket have already done a good job of that. However, here are some screen grabs to give you an idea of the interface:
I make a backup system on a weekly basis for the computers I use most often, particularly my laptop which contains so much other ever-increasing data as well.
Seems too often?
Just ask yourself how inconvenient it would be if your hard drive were to fail right now!
Or if you knew your laptop wold be stolen on your commute home?
Pretty inconvenient, right?
So, do get into the habit of creating a backup as often as you can. I reckon a week is about right and I usually find myself setting a SuperDuper! smart-update running in the background whilst I am tidying the studio on a Friday afternoon or making my coffee on a Monday morning.
You get the idea...
I even have a little text file where I make a note of the date of the clone just before I do it. This way, I get to see the date of the last one and make sure I'm keeping in the habit!
And the photo of the laptop at the start of this piece?
That's my weekly view of
smart updating onto a LaCie hard drive.
Four Last Pieces of Advice
Firstly, put the computer into a known clean state before you clone it.
It's best to restart the computer and empty the trash so that no applications are running and all extraneous data is cleared away.
Secondly, leave the computer alone whilst it's backing up!
If you start using the machine whilst it's backing up, you'll likely interfere with the process.
Think about it - if you're using an application, new data, preferences, cache and histories are being created.
Have they been backed up or not? Who knows, so leave the backup to do it's thing.
Thirdly, test the backup!
Once completed, restart from the backup system every now and then, just to make sure it's actually worked.
It would be terrible if, over the years, you had gone to all the effort of making a backup system only to find, in your hour of need, that there had been an error in your methods all along...!
Finally, enjoy the peace of mind a backup system creates!
What's Your Favorite Method of Making a Backup System? Share It!
Do you have a great way to make a Backup System?
I've only covered Mac software so far — perhaps you're on a PC and can share your preferred methods with us?
In the modern era, it's clear that many people now use online backup solutions to store and protect their files.
Maybe you use both a local backup and an online backup?
Or maybe you're on a Mac and have a great tried and tested workflow...?
Either way, we (other visitors and me!) would love you to share your knowledge. Maybe add a photo or screen grab to help too.
Go ahead! The sharing process is simple and starts right here:
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