Super UserYour home backup strategy
[+91] [69] David Pokluda
[2009-04-30 17:01:05]
[ windows backup home-use ]

What is your recommended backup strategy for home computers? I have two computers - desktop and notebook. All the important data is store on the desktop computer. I am currently using Mozy to backup my data from desktop computer to Mozy servers. What do you use?

(4) You may wish to read some of the suggestions here:… - Chris Jester-Young
[+49] [2009-04-30 17:41:42] Ivan

I use Dropbox [1], they have clients for Windows, Linux, and Mac. What the service does is that it automatically syncs a folder to their servers and to whichever other clients you want.

It's one of those services that "just" work. Check them out, they're awesome, and they offer 2 GB for free.


How does dropbox handle merging when something is updated in two different places? How about if you have a file open (and presumably write locked) while it is updated somewhere else? - Luke
I wouldn't know about that, since I use it for myself not for file sharing, but my guess in the first case is that Dropbox uses the latest version of the file, and since it keeps old versions too, it wouldn't be an issue... or maybe it asks you what to do. For your second case, maybe it waits until the file is unlocked, I don't know :) - Ivan
It don't think it handles versioning or the like .. I think that each update overwrites the last one. - tomjedrz
(1) It does. Take a look at the web UI and you'll see. - Ivan
(2) drop box is great. Yes, it has versionning too, and can let you have your content on multiple computers, but it is not meant to scale. merging != backing up. For home use, as backup, it is a great tool - Yoni
love drop box. I send my repo dumps to there most of the time. - barfoon
on conflicts: if you say; take one machine "LAPTOP" offline, edit a file "FRIENDS.TXT", edit the same file in a different way on another machine, then put the machine back online - dropbox will result in two files, one which is labelled "FRIENDS.TXT (LAPTOP's conflicting file)" - Dean Rather
[+45] [2009-04-30 17:12:20] JAG

I use Windows Home Server [1], offsite backups (sometimes) and Amazon S3.


It's hard to argue against WHS when it makes it so easy. - Matt Hanson
[+40] [2009-05-03 14:38:16] jhs

Here is the most important advice about backups, whether at home or at work:

Test your backups!

Whichever technical solution and policy you use is secondary. In my case, I use a combination of automated and manual exports into a folder, with rsyncing my colo server (assuming that they won't both crash together). But the key thing is that I have a text file with step-by-step instructions of how to restore a full system from the backup. Periodically I reinstall and restore, thereby testing my backup to confirm that it works.

My personal policy is to always buy a replacement computer every January 1. I always shoot for the mid price range because I know that I will be replacing the system after only one year, so I stick to the sweet spot.

The second advantage is that I can make sure that my backups are working since I am restoring my data to a new system

  • Frequently, since the maximum restore duration is 1 year (usually less if I upgrade the OS); and
  • In a situation where the source data is still available. If I missed something or if a restore fails, I can I can update my backup procedure

(3) Testing backups is vital! - Techboy
(4) Screw that, test your restores. - MikeyB
(1) (Channeling Marge Simpson) It's the same test! - jhs
My question... you said you reinstall and restore periodically to confirm that the backup is working. What do you do if it isn't??? I'm of the mindset that it would be better not to tempt fate and do a reinstall/restore just as a test. - Jeshii
[+33] [2009-04-30 17:57:48] Jeff Donnici

I think it depends on how much you want to get your hands dirty or have to remember things, versus wanting to have something that just works and you don't have to think much about. On the high-maintenance side, a big USB drive from Costco that you make backups on and store off-site somewhere is a cheap way to go. There are a LOT better options, though...

For ease of use and seamlessness, it's hard to beat Windows Home Server [1]. To add off-site capabilities, you can still back it up to an external drive that you take somewhere or go with something like the JungleDisk add-in [2] for Amazon S3.

There's no shortage of purely-online backup options, such as Mozy or Carbonite. But then you lose the ability to serve things up from the server as you can with WHS. For example, all our music, photos, and movies are on the server and get played back via Media Center, iTunes, Winamp, or whatever.

And there's no shortage of "home server" options, from a DIY Linux box to a NAS-in-a-box [3] solution. But then you lose (or make difficult) both the off-site possibilities and flexibility, and the ease-of-use factor. WHS lets you configure Remote Access so that you can to and access all your files. If you've got a non-technical significant other who may want to get at things that are backed up (from within the network or remotely), that ease-of-use is key to the "Wife Acceptance Factor".

It doesn't take much in the way of hardware... I picked up a Dell Dimension desktop for about $230 on the Dell Outlet [4] and then added an additional SATA drive for more storage. It's run 24/7 for just about a year now and it just plain works.


[+17] [2009-04-30 17:04:51] Adam Gibbins

I'm using Amazon S3 combined with JungleDisk. I'm however looking for an alternative solution as JungleDisk hates it when I suspend my laptop, it seems to get stuck in a loop that never actually results in anything getting backed up.

I use JungleDisk, although with the cloud storage, since it doesn't charge for upload/downloads, etc. - Daniel Huckstep
Hmm, I'm not sure what you mean. Is cloud storage another provider? Or something Amazon offers? Do you have a link please? Thanks - Adam Gibbins
If you check out their site, you can now (it is a fairly new feature I believe) use the Rackspace, or whatever they call it, storage. It's the same cost for storage, but there is no transfer cost. and see the 'Cloud Storage Fees' section. - Daniel Huckstep
Cool thanks. The problem is I can't see any way to access this without Jungle Disk. I'd prefer not to have a secondary vendor holding my data in. Unless I'm stupidly missing another way to access this, but I can't seem to find any. - Adam Gibbins
JungleDisk provides an open source library for their file system, so your are not bound to their client (or even their existance): - Anders Sandvig
[+17] [2009-04-30 18:28:32] Keith Sirmons

Mozy [1] for both of my computers. $4.95/month each and I don't have to worry about fires or theft.



Ditto on Mozy. But isn't it just $4.95/month? That's what I pay - and that's a small price for peace of mind, IMHO. - Keithius
It is $4.95 unlimited (or FREE for < 2GB), but I have 2 laptops being backed up. My Wife's Mac with all the home videos, pictures, and music and my Mac with all my .Net Development and business files. - Keith Sirmons
I use Mozy on OS X and it's been flawless. It automatically watches predetermined folders for me, so anytime I add music, photos, docs, etc., it gets automatically backed up every day. It's been so flawless, I almost forget it's there were it not for the growl notification that it's succesfully backed up. - GregD
(1) I used Mozy and it failed miserably after a system crash. Theirs tech support tried to help but without any results. I gave up and used older DVD backup... - rkj
@rkj, sorry to hear that. I have it on both of my computers (2 Macs), my parents and grandparents computers (Vista and XP), and my brothers Mac. Flawless for us. - Keith Sirmons
Mozy has been great for me ~55 gigs on it for me. - Daniel A. White
As a follow up to rkj's comment. It just proves that creating the backup is only half the task. You need to test the backups and the restore process to make sure they work. - David
That is true. A backup is useless if you can't restore it. I tend to spot check the backups by using the web interface to download a couple documents in the backup set. - Keith Sirmons
[+11] [2009-04-30 18:45:19] skarin

I use an Apple TimeCapsule. For the Mac's in the house it "just works" and the windows PC's use it like a network drive using the built in backup software. Every so often I make a copy of the data on that to an external and take it to the office. Really need to automate the offsite part with S3 or something though.

+1 for timecapsule. Had both hard drive failures and iPhoto upgrade failures that were not total disasters because of timecapsule. I hate when Mac people say, "I don't back up cause Macs never break." Also, be sure to exclude your system files! Makes for better restorations since you want the clean system files of an installation disc, not the backed up "dirty" ones from years of gamma ray exposure. - Jeshii
[+9] [2009-04-30 17:06:33] David Basarab

I use a external HD.

(8) If your house burns down, you lose everything. - Graeme Perrow
(3) Positive thoughts! :D - person-b
(29) If my house burns down, data loss will be the least of my problems. - Kristopher Johnson
(2) External HD is cheap and cheerful, but it's not a good automated or centralised solution - Techboy
(3) If your house is broken into, you lose everything. - user39559
One external HD at home, one at work. Offsite covered! - Jeshii
(2) @Kristopher - the house may be insured but 10 years worth of photos, documents and work can not. - TomA
@Kris Losing all my photos and personal writings would be much worse to me than losing most of my other possessions. - ErikE
[+8] [2009-04-30 17:07:21] Huppie

As a duplicate of my answer to this question [1]...

I'm using a NAS running Linux (Dlink DNS-323, equipped with 2x 1TB drives in RAID1) in combination with BackupPc [2]. The NAS is placed in a remote location.

BackupPc is a GUI around RSync and I have configured it so all my personal stuff is backed up every day. (Not complete images, just the important data.)


You should swap the link targets around. :-) I would normally edit your post and do this for you, however, none of us have enough rep to edit each other's posts yet! - Chris Jester-Young
@Chris: Thanks -> done. - Huppie
This is exactly what I'm planning to do when I have some time to set it up :) - shoosh
[+7] [2009-04-30 19:03:15] frankodwyer

I once almost lost my laptop containing a bunch of newly written code - left it on a train so it was missing for a few days, though it eventually turned up. So I'm pretty paranoid about this now and I have a number of different strategies.

For my home folders, I use crashplan ( to automatically back up offsite and to my other computers (gives the option to restore locally if I still have access to the other computers, and it's automatic so I don't need to think about it). I also know this works because it saved my neck at the time my laptop went missing for a few days above.

Code is backed up under my home folder but it also tends to get naturally backed up as it's in a code repository and checked out on different computers. In fact this works so well for backup and synch, that I'm thinking of switching to it for my home folder on different pcs as well (currently backed up but not synched across the different machines).

I also have a time capsule for my macs - again this is automatic.

For stuff that is currently too big for TC or crashplan (movies and music etc) I have a drobo and also a pair of USB disks configured as a RAID mirror. Unfortunately this means I have no offsite backup for this stuff. I also have to run a home grown rsync script to keep this stuff synchronised.

Stuff that's out on the net, mysql DBs etc, I dump to S3.

(2) Me too. CrashPlan really needs to become better known; it's wonderful software. - Nicholas Riley
Crashplan's UI leaves a lot to be desired. It's misaligned and flickers a lot in many places. Also, it keeps an instance of Java running on your machine all the time, which can be quite memory intensive. I wish they rewrote Crashplan in C or C++. The functionality is great. - TomA
[+7] [2009-04-30 19:09:07] tomjedrz

I have a similar situation for my personal stuff.

My strategy is:

1- I don't worry about the OS or programs. These are changing so quickly that I don't bother, and if I have a failure I will rebuild anyway.

2- I have a robocopy batch file that backs up the documents and settings from the computer to an external USB drive. Robocopy has settings to not copy unchanged files. I leave the drive plugged into the desktop, and the job runs on the task scheduler. I move the USB drive to the laptop once a week or so and run the job manually.

I don't like the on-site only aspect of this, so I am planning to implement JungleDisk/S3 next month.

For non-tech users (i.e. the family I end up supporting), I recommend Carbonite.

+1 for Carbonite even for tech users that don't want to mess with other methods at home. - Leigh Riffel
+1 for the OS note. - Dimitri C.
(1) +1 for the robocopy batch files, mine goes to my NAS and some important things goto Dropbox. - d1k_is
Robocopy ftw. I have a scheduled powershell script that backs things up to both an external and a share drive on the server. Love it. - Jeshii
[+7] [2009-04-30 19:49:35] Kristof Provost

I use Bacula [1], which allows me to automatically back up multiple systems over my home network. I also use it to back up one remote system (over an SSL encrypted link).

The most important thing is to automate your backups. Manual systems (like copying all files to an external hard drive) usually get forgotten after a while. Regularly testing if you can restore your files also applies for the home user by the way.


+1 for bacula. It's just great! - Server Horror
[+6] [2009-04-30 19:40:04] Stewart

I'm not sure this is my recommended scheme, but this is what I do.

I have one laptop with lots of important data, and daily use. One further laptop with no important data, with weekly use. One desktop desktop with lots of important but infrequently changing data, with around monthly use. These three machines are backed-up as follows:

For "daily incremental backups": The two laptops have Memeo Autobackup running constantly to store data on a Buffalo NAS device configured with RAID 1. This stores the last three versions of all files. I also have a partition on there where I've stored the installers for all the useful software I regularly use to aid set-up of a new machine.

For "off-site" storage: The desktop and the NAS device are manually copied to a large USB disk every two-to-three months. This is my main "off-site" storage, but here "off-site" just means a different room. My plan is to build a server cupboard in my garage this summer, and a second NAS will sit in there. Work-related files are transferred to a remote server, daily or weekly depending on what they are. Source code and some documents are stored in version control systems.

For "archival": I have a stack of hard-drives that are manual clones of my systems at specific times in my life. The later ones would allow me to resurrect my desktop and one of the laptops in a hurry, if I needed to. The earlier ones are just of historical interest. There are currently 13 drives in the pile.

There are now 14 drives in the pile. Also, the USB drive is now replaced by a (rather slow) 1TB Lacie Network Space NAS. - Stewart
[+5] [2009-04-30 18:59:27] Paul Lefebvre

I use OS X Leopard's Time Machine with a custom schedule to backup to an external drive every 4 hours.

For remote backups, I use Apple's MobileMe and Backup application to backup important files weekly.

[+4] [2009-04-30 19:10:47] tomjedrz

Just for discussion's sake .. how about backing each of the computers up across your network to the other computer?

Has advantages .. no cost, easy to manage ...

What do you all think?

(4) It's easy. Covers like 90% of your use cases. Makes use of all the empty hard drive space you have laying round. Doesn't help the "House burning down" Problem. It's free right? - DrFloyd5
(2) CrashPlan does this. - TomA
It's a great plan. But one of the devices must stay out of your house. - user39559
[+4] [2009-04-30 19:14:39] ajma

Using a combination Windows Home Server and Live Mesh

[+4] [2009-05-02 21:06:06] mabwi

I have an external hard drive, and use Cobian Backup [1] to automate the backup each night.


[+3] [2009-04-30 17:08:01] K. Brian Kelley

I use Microsoft Live Mesh for important files and to keep files in synchronization across multiple computers. I also put important files onto one of several USB drives that I have for just that purpose.

[+3] [2009-04-30 19:30:14] Drew Gibson

I use Retrospect Backup for daily incremental backups, onto a second internal HD on my system. I take a monthly full backup using TrueImage, again onto that second internal HD. I use ViceVersa Pro to copy those backups onto a removable HD, and I do this manually whenever a backup has occurred... and that removable HD pretty much goes with me where-ever I go. It's a 400GB thing about the size of my ipod which I just put in my laptop bag and take to work. Big enough for TrueImage images of both my desktop and laptop, and incremental backups of my desktop.

[+3] [2009-04-30 23:39:29] hlovdal

What ever backup solution you select, make sure it can (and will be) automated.

I have finally set up a RAID6 server together with rsnapshot [1] (which is using rsync) which gives me automated full/incremental rotated backups on disk. I back up everything on my disks.

For offline backup I have just bought a SAS LTO4 tape streamer which I just have received but not installed yet, but I plan then store some of the rsnapshot backups from time to time and store the tapes at my office.


[+3] [2009-04-30 23:51:27] hlovdal

An alternative (or addition) to full backups is to duplicate the files you consider important on both the desktop and the laptop. Unison [1] is an excellent tool for this (free, cross platform, command line and GUI). I used this successfully when I was studying. When I was at home I tended to work on my desktop and at the university on my laptop. Without unison I would have had a mess with some files here and some files there, possibly in different versions. With unison I had everything available both places, I just had to sync them from time to time. And as a bonus I also then always had a backup of all my important files.


Sounds like DropBox, only less automatic ;-) - Pat
[+3] [2009-05-01 05:13:38] user4649

Jungle disk [1] and Dropbox [2]


[+2] [2009-04-30 17:06:58] jj33

On my work-from-home laptop, I use fullsync to copy most documents to a work share over VPN twice a day (I copy anything on my desktop, and anything in My Documents\Synched-Files. I also synch important (but not critical) files that are huge to my local LAN server.

My local LAN server (Mac OS X) uses retrospect to copy its local file systems to a 750GB external HD. I have two of these drives and I physically swap them out once a week and take the not-in-use one to a family member's house in one of those money-boxes with a combo lock on it.

My personal laptops get backed up whenever I think about it, I make a point not to store critical stuff on them.

[+2] [2009-04-30 17:17:35] user2074

I use the Dell Datasafe service that came with my notebook. Any online service ought to do the trick, though.

If you have a large quantity of photos, videos, or music, I would back those up on an external drive.

[+2] [2009-04-30 17:47:34] Graeme Perrow

I use JungleDisk on my home computer and Mozy for personal stuff on my work computer. Mozy is free but you are limited in how much you can back up. JungleDisk is cheap and backs up as much as you need. Both are easy to configure and both support strong encryption of the data.

[+2] [2009-04-30 20:32:17] Techboy

I back everything up onto a Windows Home Server (highly recommended) on a daily basis (automated).

I back the Windows home Server onto a USB HD on a weekly basis.

I backup my Documents folder using Mesh.

[+2] [2009-04-30 21:38:57] John McC

Have an Ubuntu server with a bunch of hard drives set up with software RAID5. Backup the individual machines up onto that. The copy the backups onto a USB hard drive which I take to work.

[+2] [2009-05-01 03:12:03] Alex. S.

I only use unison [1] to make some kind of peer to peer distributed synchronization.

I have Mac and Windows laptops and PCs.


[+2] [2009-05-03 00:14:39] Ian Kelling

Version control for files I author. rdiff-backup incremental cron job for my notes file, email, firefox folder. Rsync to external hard drive all data including big medial. Install instructions and scripts for operating systems.

[+2] [2009-05-03 22:20:13] Christian Specht

I have one computer and one laptop to backup.
I have two external USB harddisks (500 GB each) to store my backups.

Basically, I do something similar to what Jeff posted here (actually, this is where I got the idea from):

One of the disks is in my desk at the office. The other one is here at home and gets updated frequently (but I do it manually every few days, not automatically. That's enough for me).
I have a batch file on each machine that robocopys everything important to the backup disk.

Once a month, I take my "home" disk to the office, leave it there and bring the other disk home. Then this one becomes my "home" disk for the next month.

+1 I like this strategy, only: aren't you concerned about your privacy? - Dimitri C.
[+2] [2009-05-07 11:17:11] fourstar

External USB hard drive and DropBox. Absolutely useful stuff is also on an 8GB USB key on my keyring!

[+1] [2009-04-30 19:54:51] David Hicks

An eSATA RAID-1 box - I have an Stardom 2-bay RAID box, search Google for similar devices available in your local currency. Does proper hardware RAID-1, and you back up by simply yanking one drive out and sticking a new one in and waiting for it to re-synch. You don't have to interrupt your computer usage, either - I've left the computer running video from the RAID drive before now and it's just carried right on playing as I took a drive out. Note that they make a bit more fan noise than you might like, not excessive, but certainly not quite "whisper quiet" either.

[+1] [2009-04-30 20:23:50] Don Dickinson

i just check things into the svn account i have at project locker. i don't bother backing up o/s or software as i have the disks, etc around. i'm sure to check things in twice a day and i'm all set. if i have something particularly large that i don't want to check into subversion, i copy it to a usb drive and leave the drive at my office.


[+1] [2009-04-30 21:14:01] Omar Shahine

  1. Windows Home Server
  2. Cloud Backup using Carbonite or Mozy
  3. Rotating portable hard drives to store backups of Home Server at work
  4. Windows Live Sync to replicate files between machines (Documents, Favorites, Pictures)

[+1] [2009-04-30 23:08:48] kd7iwp

I got a DLink DNS-323 NAS that I backup all home computers to. Then every 2 weeks I bring a USB hard drive home from work and copy all the contents to that, then promptly take it back to work.

[+1] [2009-05-01 00:17:30] Luke Quinane

I like to keep all of my important data in one place so that it is easy to backup so I store everything important in Subversion (pictures, code, documents, etc). This means when I want to backup my system or move it to another location I only have one thing to think about. It also means that I can easily replicate my documents on as many clients as I want - I have a partial check out at work for example.

I backup the Subversion repository daily using [1]. I tried Mozy [2] and it was great but you can't get the personal edition to run on Small Business Server 2003.


[+1] [2009-05-01 00:39:30] sascha

Syncplicity to keep documents in sync between work, laptop and home. Jungledisk/Amazon S3 for offsite backup of critical information. Apple Time Machine for system backup.

[+1] [2009-05-01 01:37:15] bruceatk

I have a server that I keep all my files on. I then back that up nightly using RoboCopy to an external USB drive. I use the Western Digital My Book [1] drives (currently only $118 for 1TB) because they spin down when not being used. I have a second external drive that I use to keep images of my local hard drives (laptops/desktops) using Acronis True Image [2].


[+1] [2009-05-01 02:43:21] tsilb

My personal file server has 8TB HDD space. There is really only one viable option given this scale -- My buddy has a similarly-spec'd file server. We back up to each other, also ensuring we have the same content.

[+1] [2009-05-01 02:48:54] Kurt W. Leucht

Anyone who has multiple computers ... and these days many of us do ... can pretty easily back up one computer to another simply by sharing drives or folders on the network (I'm talking Windows technology here) and then clicking on "Make Available Offline". This places a copy of the shared folder onto the other computers hard drive, but it is totally transparent. You can unplug the computers from each other and you will still see the shared drive and all the shared files because they are actually stored locally now. This scenario automatically synchronizes changes every time a user logs off and can also be sync'd manually.

I've been using this technique both at work and at home for something like 5 years now and it is simple and free and works like a charm. I don't backup OS files, only my data files using this technique ... by saving all my data into a shared local directory.

[+1] [2009-05-01 03:43:29] DrFloyd5

External Hard Drive that I keep in my baby's room. Just in case the house burns down, I can be sure to grab it.

The Baby. I mean.


[+1] [2009-05-01 09:40:23] Electrons_Ahoy

I can't possibly be the only person's whose home backup strategy is a fiendish combination of DVD-Rs and luck, can I?

(On the other hand, this IS a major upgrade from my old technique, which was ZIP-disks and prayer.)

[+1] [2009-05-02 18:59:09] Zifre

I use GmailFS [1] to do incremental off-site backups. It's kind of slow, but works well, and I can trust that if my house burns down, Google will save the day.


[+1] [2009-05-02 22:50:23] Imran

Sharing the non-personal stuff among friends. Distributed backup for free!

[+1] [2009-05-03 03:37:38] Scott

I use robocopy to clone subdirectories to a USB/eSATA drive enclosure. Then I put the drive in a small fire resistant safe.

[+1] [2009-05-03 20:07:50] Jeremy Cantrell

All of my machines at home are Linux, so I use rsync. I have an external drive that is the same size as the main drive that I want to backup. This backup occurs via a cron job every night. Periodically, I sync it to another external drive. This one is travel-size, so I can carry it with me everywhere. Every drive (main and both backups) is encrypted with LUKS so everything is nice and secure. Using Ext2 IFS [1] and FreeOTFE [2], I can access the travel drive from my Windows machine at work. I've had several drive failures since I've started using this strategy and I've yet to lose any data.


[+1] [2009-05-05 22:13:08] Waldo

CrashPlan for home use is free now. If you can buddy up with a friend or relative that is in a different geographic location, the storage is free and off-site.

Testing backups is critical.

[+1] [2009-05-08 16:20:46] ultrinn

I just learned about Amahi [1] server which is a Linux alternative to Windows Home Server. I have not had a chance to try it out yet but it is free and from the sounds of it works as well or better than WHS.

After that is set up, I plan on using mozy [2] or carbonite [3] to backup off site.


[+1] [2009-06-02 02:49:20] blak3r

I use mozy for both home and our corporate backup. Overall i'm pleased. Their client is a little slow (it takes like 10-15 minutes to load the page of what's backed up on my computer). We've had some issues which caused us to have to run cmd line scripts to fix some corrupted mozy dat files which seemed a bit cryptic for such a mainstream product. The support was very responsive.

Over the course of a 1.5 years i've probably spent maybe 2-3 hours maintaining it. So, I can't imagine any backup solutions which would have less hassles.

[+1] [2009-06-02 02:57:22] Rich

I use tarsnap [1] inside this neat little wrapper [2].


[+1] [2009-06-03 20:37:51] KPWINC

Buy yourself a cheap $100 1TB USB drive for in home backups.

Then go buy JungleDisk ( for $20 for remote backups.

I personally store all of my digital pictures on my laptop, my 1TB "My Book", and then finally up in the cloud on JungleDisk.

If my laptop is stolen/crashes I still have the pictures backed up on the USB MyBook.

If the house burns down (laptop and MyBook with it)... I still have the pictures backuped up on Jungledisk (Amazon S3).

Amazon bills be about $4.00/mo (15 cents per gigabyte stored per month) which is CHEAPER than burning everything to DVD.

The nice thing about JungleDisk is that the client works on Windows/Linux/Mac so I can access my backups from anywhere I need to. On windows JungleDisk maps just like a regular hard drive (J: drive) so its easy enough my mother could use it.

I've lost files before but losing digital pictures is like losing a piece of your life.

At the end of the day its the same age old question: "How much data can you afford to lose?"

...and everyone's most common answer... "None of it!"

The truth is often "Just a little bit." ;-)

[+1] [2009-09-08 06:58:05] Dimitri C.

For digital pictures I recommend to select a best-of-this-year collection and get them printed on paper. Paper will last longer than any computer backup medium, and you don't need computer hardware to look at it. You should still keep your pictures in digital form, but it is good to use two different backup media.

OTOH, many types of printing will degrade extremely quickly, and there's quality loss to turn it digital again - so I wouldn't consider this a backup - Tom Newton
[+1] [2010-03-20 07:21:55] Ward

I approach this a bit differently...

Every electronic file I have, going back about 20 years is part of my "active files."

Now, since I obviously don't refer much to 20 year old email messages or usenet postings I captured, I have things structured in a way that I have a small set of truly active files, and a much larger set of earlier years' files.

As of a couple months ago, none of these files are on a hard drive inside a computer. I have 3.5" USB drives at home and office, and two 2.5" drives that move around. Currently, one 2.5" drive is at the office, one gets carried around with me in my backpack pretty much everywhere I go.

I do most of my work at the office, working with my files that are on the 3.5" drive there. Every now and then I use SecondCopy to sync any changes from the 3.5" to the 2.5" drive that I leave at the office. Not quite as frequently, but at least every couple of days, I sync the changes to the other 2.5" drive I carry around. (I haven't been updating the other 3.5" drive that's at home as often, I should do that...)

So I have 3 copies of all my files on 3 different hard drives, and unless I am sitting in the office, those 3 are not in the same place.

All my files, including 10 years worth of digital pictures fits easily on 320GB drives and I don't expect to fill that up for at least a couple of years, maybe 3 or 4. At that point, I'll upgrade to 500GB or 1TB drives and use the same system on them. I'll put aside a couple of the 320GB drives as a sort of backup, but won't count on it.

Ok, I lied, I don't have all my files, the video files I've taken with our videocam aren't included in "all my files." The raw files from the mini-dv recorder are 12-20 GB/tape, so they're too big to include with the the rest of the files. For videos, I've got 2 500GB drives which have 6 years worth of video on them and will last for a few more. I recently went through all the raw avi's from the camera and compressed them to divx using Handbrake, and I'll keep "the best of" the divx files in with "all my files."

I used to have yearly archives of older files on CDs and then later on DVD, but I stopped doing those a few years ago in favor of simply having copies of everything on multiple hard drives.

[0] [2009-05-14 07:37:54] michelemarcon

No one mentioned SkyDrive. 25Gb should be enough for everyone ;I

[0] [2009-05-15 16:58:16] Orihara

Like a surprisingly large number of users, I use Windows Home Server.

But in addition to that, I have off site backups through the cloud. Not just one, but both Live Mesh and Dropbox.

[0] [2009-05-15 17:15:39] Saif Khan

I use [1] - they have very nice features for the home edition and even a copporate version. If you are dealing with code storage then get yourself an SVN repository.


[0] [2009-05-22 15:32:31] lajos

I use rdiff-backup [1].

I have Windows, Mac laptops and workstations and a Linux server. My goal was to find a solution where all platforms use the same centralized backup server. (I didn't want a separate solution for Windowas and Mac and Linux.)

Rdiff-backup supports all platforms. The documentation is really good, and although it's not as easy to setup as Time Machine, the benefits far outweigh the hassle of reading the docs.

In my setup, the Linux server acts as the backup server, clients push backups over SSH.

Some highlights:

  • supports many (all of my) platforms
  • incremental backups
  • tunnel over SSH
  • easy web based interface for restore using rdiff-backup-web [2]
  • pretty much set it and forget it...

Here's a link to the features [3] page.


[0] [2009-05-22 15:36:40] Brian Knoblauch

Extra drives in my main desktop get the most frequent backups (in case of accidental deletion, etc). When I've got to the point where it's going to be painful to rebuild (like a virus gets me or the computer burns up), I burn a couple DVDs. One stays at home in a different part of the house, another goes to a friend's house on the other side of town.

[0] [2009-05-24 20:26:19] sean e

I use Retrospect for daily backups to an XP machine (which also hosts a Perforce server among other things). Once a week, I make a mirror of the backup drive (using SyncToy) to an external drive that is stored in a separate building.

[0] [2009-05-31 20:23:26] kbyrd

Most data I need to be available all the time on a RAID10. Weekly, I backup everything (that RAID array, laptop, etc.) I would hate to lose to an external hard drive in a Thermaltake BlacX eSata dock. Monthly, I rotate that hard drive with another to someplace off site.

My weekly backups are use rsync with --link-dest. The idea is that it'll hardlink everything that didn't change, saving space.

[0] [2009-05-31 20:26:29] user48824

acronis trueimage for desktop backups. tar for server/NAS backups. For NAS I've had an idea to buy a tape drive but bought 4x1TB external hdds instead. Much more cheap and can be "rotated" by script. Imho tape drive is good after amounts near ~10TB otherwise waste of money.

[0] [2009-05-31 21:06:17] Kevin Kuphal

Server: OpenFiler on commodity hardware

RAID-5 Partition (5x160GB) : Used as primary storage for desktops on home network. Laptop syncs to this partition via Maebo Sync. Primary desktop folders redirected here. CIFS shares used for Photos, Music, etc.

Additional storage on openfiler (large SATA): iSCSI back to primary desktop, used for holding video files or other large data that is transient and doesn't need redundancy. Lives on openfiler to simplify desktop configuration rather than external USB or other attached method.

Additional storage on openfiler (RAID-0, 2 disks) : Used as backup destination for critical RAID-5 data using CrashPlan. Holds friend's data as repository for his Crashplan backups.

CrashPlan also used to back up RAID-5 data offsite to a friend

[0] [2009-06-02 02:53:02] kentchen

I am using Mozy and Windows Live Sync. Mozy on one desktop backs up everything except pictures and videos. Windows Live Sync syncs every files across several my computers. The nice thing about Live Sync is no size limitation. It syncs files through p2p.

[0] [2009-06-22 01:33:00] Romulo

I have three computers at home (there's no "server"), one of them in a different building from the other two.

So I wrote a small Python script which does a normal backup every 20 days and differential backups daily. It's scheduled to run on the idle event of each computer, and after generating the archives it replicates them via shared folders, besides deleting those which are 60 days or older. This way every computer has a complete set of archives of all computers and I don't need to worry about copying them to offline media periodically, although I occasionally (once every 2 months) burn a DVD with the newest archives.

[0] [2009-08-21 02:39:43] emgee

I have a large external hard drive that I back up to using Time Machine, and for off-site backup I use Backblaze [1], which I'm quite happy with.


[0] [2009-09-08 08:24:36] Don Zoomik

For my personal laptop, i simply copy whole user profile to NAS weekly. Monthly i write most important data to DVDs. My girlfriend has a 2.5" HDD connected to her TP X41's dock and uses Vista's daily backup. Also - most important data to DVD's monthly.

It's simple and it works.

[0] [2009-10-20 08:11:40] sleske

I set up Areca Backup [1] for my parents. Simple to use, nice GUI, cross-platform (Java+SWT), and free software.

It allows for full, incremental & differential backups. It writes backups as files, i.e. needs a filesystem for backup files (hard disk, network drive etc.); it can also backup to an FTP server.

It has no built-in scheduler, but integrates nicely with Windows Scheduler or cron (which I actually prefer). It can even send email on completion of jobs.

It's not an enterprise backup system, but just the right feature set for home backups.

I set it up for automatic backup to an external harddrive; a few critical files are put on an FTP account.


[0] [2010-02-11 02:50:24] Dominik

I use two external hard drives in rotation: one at home, the other one 'offsite'. Every month, both drives are exchanged. So worst case scenario, the house burns down and I loose one month of data !

[0] [2010-06-28 13:03:26] msanford

Time Machine on my home machine; my laptops just synchronize with a popular web service. I essentially have two backups of my mission-critical data (Time Machine on-site once it's synchronized from the cloud, which is instantaneous, and the cloud itself).

It could potentially be better, but for my needs it's proven more than adequate: I've had a few catastrophic failures from which I have recovered, with minimal effort, 100 % of my data.

I used to have an in-house Slackware box with 4 500 GB hard disks in a RAID array as a tertiary in-house NAS backup solution, but I've given that up because it simply wasn't necessary and required maintenance, which my current solution does not.

What "popular web service" do your laptops sync with? - Josh Newman