Backing up

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I was reading Chase Jarvis’s workflow article and in it he mentions how crucial backups are for the professional photographer. His system is pretty much bulletproof.

So far, I have been keeping all crucial information on a file server on an old Mac Mini running Ubuntu and using an external 4-disk array with ZFS RAIDZ-2. This provides security against hardware failure in the form of harddrive crashes but not to accidental deletion. Furthermore, any files I work on directly on my production machine (another Mac Mini) have no protection whatsoever.

In order to rectify some of the potential pitfalls in my workflow, I decided to install a local backup system on my workstation. The plan was to have any work on that machine backed up to an external drive connected directly to it via FireWire.

The first consideration was whether to go with the in-built Time Machine program that comes with Snow Leopard or try something else.

I considered using Crashplan but it only backs up daily unless you paid for Crashplan+ and it’s main advantage is the ability to back up over a network to another machine for redundancy. As I was only planning to use a local drive, I scratched it off the list. Also, there appear to be issues with the corrupted files.

Having used rsync and scripts by Mike Rubel previously on one of my old Debian machines during my Linux days, I googled for a backup solution for Mac OS based on rsync. It appears that I am not the only person that thinks this would be a good idea. I eventually ended up at Backup Central and found an article where Curtis Preston tries to come up with his own solution to replace Time Machine.

So my current working solution involves using Mr Preston’s script (with a few minor tweaks) to incrementally backup my user directory to an external 500Gb OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Mini. I didn’t see the need to backup my system files and applications as they were all replaceable.

The steps involved:

1. Download script by Curtis Preston.

2. Modify script to use include and exclude files in ~/.rsync/

3. Add exclusions to exclude file as suggested by “Linux for Research” blog.

4. Run the script to check that it works then move it to ~/Library/Scripts and make it executable.

5. Automate script loading with tips from StackOverflow and using Lingon to tweak the syntax.

And that’s it. Now I just need to monitor the backups over the next few days to make sure nothing goes wrong. And of course, I will eventually need to come up with a backup solution for the file server too.

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