Over the weekend I had a bit of a scare. I was thinking about my trip to Ireland – a trip I took nearly 15 years ago – and I decided to take a walk down memory lane. Since those photos were on Flickr and I decided to delete Flickr earlier this year, I went to the Photos app, assuming I added them. No dice. OK – I’ll check my Time Machine back up. Not there either. Luckily, they were somewhere. But not before I started to panic.
What Happened to my Photos?
Well, the short of it is I downloaded my Flickr photos on my PC, the day before my iMac Pro came. No problem – I had a backup, right?
My Backup System
On my PC, I had a 3-pronged approach to backups:
- A built in SSD drive I would move files too
- An external drive I would perform manual backups on
- A Backblaze Account, which would do automatic off-site backups
Getting Rid of the PC
So as I said, my iMac Pro came the day after I backed up my Flickr account. So the Flickr account is gone, and at this point, the archive exists on the PC, and Backblaze. Then this series of events happened:
- I waited a couple of weeks to wipe the PC to make sure I didn’t need anything. I wiped it when I sold it. That would be the main drive, and the bulit-in SSD Drive
- I kept the Backblaze account until it was time for me to renew my billing – that was about 7 months after I got rid of the PC, and I figured if there were any critical files they were already moved over.
- The external drive was in storage – I thankfully used a different drive for my Mac’s Time Machine backup, so it didn’t get reformatted.
They were on the External Backup Drive
As you likely guessed, the photos were buried in a folder on the external drive, as I deleted everything on the PC, as well as the Backblaze backup, and the Flickr account was long gone.
The point is this: The only reason I have those photos is because of a multi-pronged backup system.
My Current (and Recommended) Backup System
There’s something called the 3-2-1 method of backups. It means you should have 3 copies of your data, on 2 different mediums, and at least 1 offsite.
With my iMac Pro, I have this strategy employed automatically. Here’s what I do:
- The main copy of my data is on my iMac Pro’s hard drive. I also backup to iCloud (I have a 2TB account for a 1TB hard drive). I also have basically all my work files in Dropbox*
- I have a Time Machine backup going. It’s on an 8TB drive. The convention is 3-4x your computer’s hard drive, so I have plenty of room (for now).
- I have Backblaze automatically backing up everything, including Time Machine (I’m counting this as the second medium)
- Bonus: I also have a NAS (Network Area Storage) Drive that I’ll move certain, infrequently accessed files onto. This isn’t a full backup, but it’s one more layer of security for certain data
*There’s a small caveat to cloud backups: you don’t always know what’s actually on your machine and what’s in the cloud. SO I don’t count as a true backup strategy.
My Backup Gear
- 8TB Western Digital for my Time Machine Backup
- Backblaze for my off-site backup
- A Synology 2-bay NAS (You’ll also need hard drives. I have 2 of these)