bullet proof backups

I'm sure this has been posted before, but it's easy to ignore backups and the consequences are not worth the risks of not constantly having a good backup solution. Here are the steps I go through to create a good backup of my computer system. (It helps me sleep better at night:)

1. Setup a backup program that keeps an on-going timed backup of all of you files. For Macs Time Machine is a good option. However, there are plenty of good applications that do similar backups. I use Time Machine for my personal backup at my house. The files get written to a Network Attached Storage (NAS) that is constantly on. The nice thing about this setup is that my backups start every time I connect my computer to my home network. I don't have to think about plugging in a drive. I also get a notification if something starts to go wrong.

2. Create an offsite backup that is at another location than your normal backup. This for disaster recovery in case of fire, flood, theft etc... You may be able to use a second drive at work and create a second Time Machine backup. I use a program called Crashplan that backs up to their cloud service. There are other cloud backup services as well. I like Crashplan as it keeps a backup from the beginning of the backup, so if your backup is 4 years old you could go back 4 years and retrieve lost files. I have gone back nearly a year to get a file from backups. It can be a life/time saver.

3. Create a local bootable clone of the entire system. This is so you can quickly recreate your system in case something like a hard drive fails. I use a program called Carbon Copy Cloner to clone my system, but there are other cloning programs as well. I've set up a rule that clones my computer every time I connect a specific drive to my computer. The point of failure is that I have to remember to connect the drive.

4. Lastly review your backups. Log into each program occasionally and verify that it is actually backing up and is not generating any error. If any of the backups are having problems, fix the problems right away. I also go the extra step of occasionally grabbing a few files from my backup as a way to test the system. If you can boot to your clone and pull files from your backup, then you should be safe.