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My new backup plan

For the last few years my backup plan has been:

  • Mac to NAS using Time Machine
  • NAS to USB disks
  • Store the USB disks in a fireproof safe

This plan lacks an offsite backup. Not good. And has a weak point when the backup disk is attached to the NAS as the NAS likes to wipe everything off at the slightest whim before starting the backup, and will take a few days to run. Hooray for USB 2 and large hard drives. The other weak part is how the NAS is setup. WD Green drives in a JBOD configuration. Time bomb waiting to happen.

Recently I had started to get twitchy about the current setup. Sure enough, during a backup alarms start sounding. Disk crash on Volume 1. At this point I do not know where the backup had got too, which files are most certainly corrupted on the backup disk and the NAS disk, and if the drive in the NAS will boot. I am not turning it back on until I can transfer the data off the disk.

Time to get things sorted. Time to spend some money.

  1. New NAS. Not strictly needed, but I want more space, and redundancy, which means more drives, and the current 2 bay one won’t cut that.
  2. New NAS that supports hardware encryption. What is the point of FileVault2 on the Mac if the backups are in the clear.
  3. New NAS that supports a faster interface than USB 2 (USB 3 or eSATA).
  4. New HDs.
  5. New external HDs with faster interface.
  6. Internet based backup.

In the end I opted for:

  1. A Synology DS413. After such a good experience with my DS209 (apart from the stupid wiping of the backup disks issue), I did not even consider another brand.
  2. WD Red drives (I may be tempting fate).
  3. 3TB Seagate external backup disk with USB 3. I don’t need the automated backup features for Windows, but it was cheaper than the model without it at the time.
  4. CrashPlan. I have been hearing good things about them. Their prices seem good. I can use my own encryption keys. I can mount my NAS’s shared folders in Finder and back them up, and their backups won’t get deleted if they vanish for while.

Now I need to figure out a good way to keep all my encryption keys safe.

A few things to note.

  • I used to backup to internal disks connected via a USB adapter, because a) they were cheaper, b) I knew what disks I was getting.
  • I decided against an eSATA connection as Macs don’t have them, and being limited to eSATA/USB docks and external disks limited the choice too much.
  • I then found that I had to write off USB 3 docks as none seem to support 3TB disks. The one dock I did find that might have worked, seemed to indicate that the drive would have to be partitioned. Not acceptable. It was also rather expensive. So I went for an external USB 3 disk.

So there is still the weakness of a crash during a backup. However this is mitigated by using RAID in the new setup, and having an offsite backup. It can be reduced further by having a second disk that I rotate with the backup disk. I might be getting a little too paranoid now.

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