Backup Solutions


I lost a goodly amount of information about a week ago when my laptop pooped out. Thankfully, most of my stuff is on a Mac. But the fact of the matter is, I need to keep backups.

I've got a network with just about everything: Mac OSX, Mac Classic, Windows, Solaris and even a Linux box. I'm beyond the point of burning CD's because it would take forever.

I'm not even sure what is out there, but I was thinking that the easiest thing might be just to network a cheap-o PC with Linux and LOTS of extra drives just to drop files onto. Ideally, it'd be an automatic thing because I am bad about taking time to do maintenance stuff like this.

I'm curious though, what do you guys do?


External hard drive

You're right; burning CDs for anything but specific files can become unworkable. Not sure where you are, but I'm looking at external hard drives -- 250Gig for $149. At that price, by the time it fills up, I could just get another.

remote server, everything in cvs, propagated via cronjobs

sounds perfect in theory, I haven't actually got around to implementing it to find out

My offsite backups routine

Of course I have my round-robin nightly backups that keep multiple copies in different locations but last year I wanted to have one more copy that physically went home with me in the unlikey event that my office burned down at the same time that my colo burned down.

1. Buy an Iomeg Rev drive. This thing is an awesome, inexpensive alternative to tape drives and its way faster. When plugged into USB 2.0 files transfer about as fast as they would to an external hard drive.

2. Buy a second Rev disk (it comes with one).

3. Label one disk "Monday" and the other disk "Thursday"

4. Save the following to a batch file somewhere on your machine (like rev.bat). Edit it to to include all folders on your machine that you want to save on your rev drive. The networked folder that starts with \\MYBACKUPSERVER\g$ is where my database backups from my live servers are downloaded to nightly (via another script) so I will have a copy of them on the Rev as well. You'll also need to change all occurences of 'f:' with whatever drive letter your Rev is assigned to.

@TITLE Backing up to Rev
SET CMD_PATH=C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe
%CMD_PATH% /c "xcopy d:\projects\** f:\projects\/c/h/d/i/e/k/r/y"
%CMD_PATH% /c "xcopy d:\Gut-Zu-Haben\** f:\Gut-Zu-Haben\/d/i/e/y"
%CMD_PATH% /c "xcopy d:\clients\** f:\clients\/d/i/e/y"
%CMD_PATH% /c "xcopy \\MYBACKUPSERVER\g$\backups\** f:\backups\/d/i/e/y"
@ECHO Finished backups. Please take the disk home.

xcopy does differential backups so you won't be copying files unless they have changed.

5. Create a scheduled task in Windows to execute the rev.bat on Monday at 2 PM and Thursday at 2PM. Here is the command line in my scheduled task:

C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe /c D:\projects\backups\rev.bat

6. When the backup is done running on Monday, eject the disk, and put it disk in your briefcase or a place where you'll be sure to take it home. When you get home take the Thursday disk off of your desk or some high traffic visible place, put it in your briefcase, and put the Monday disk on your desk.

Poor mans backups!

P.S. - I actually have one more line in my rev.bat that I didn't show here. It executes a Java class that sends me an email when the backup is complete and reminds me to take the disk home. If you are proficient in Java I can send that to you. You could do the same thing with php, perl, python, etc.

My ...

That is quite brilliant. Thanks.

I use syncback SE (free) to

I use syncback SE (free) to backup my files to my file server every night. Every 15 days I use syncback SE on the file server to burn the files to a CD. I put the CD's in fire rated safe. These jobs all run between 3am and 5am so they don't interfere with me.

external hd and ezbackitup

i use an external hard drive and a freeware program called ezbackitup (

it has a scheduler, which i schedule nightly, and it just does a quick copy over to the hd. it doesn't do any kind of compression, just a straight copy. that's what i was looking weird formats or anything - just copy it over, so i can copy it back easily if i need to.

A cheap linux box with lots of hd space

I've got a cheapo linux box in the basement with a couple of hd's. My machines, including websites, are backed up every night to that machine using rsync. After the backup, I zip everything and archive it to a second drive on that machine. Then once a week or so I use k3b to burn some dvd's and clean up the hard drives of old backups.

Linux box

I agree that using a spare linux box can be a very convenient way of backing up your system.

I have a "poor man's" backup :) Pretty much everything of any importaince for me is within the my documents folder. I simple upload this entire folder once a week or so via ftp over lan to a Linux box. It's obviously a large folder, but over lan takes very little time.

If I was to have a HD fail or system fry on me it would be recoverable.

In worst case scinario all I would need to do is reinstall OS and my installed software from cd's then download my documents from the linux box. I actualy used this same technic when a friend got a new lap top. Uploaded his docs from old machine, then downloaded to new machine. Works well.


How cheap ...

How cheap are these cheap Linux boxes? I ask because they seem to be more expensive for less space than the external HDs.

It's not a lot of money, in any case, but I'm just saying ...

Just use an old desktop. My

Just use an old desktop. My file server is a 233 and as long as I only use it as a file server it's speedy enough, if you only install the software that is 100% required. Watch for hard drives to go on sale, I picked up a 200GB for $120.

Ah ...

Ah, okay. That's the idea. Lots of hard drives that you can stack away somewhere. Thanks. :)

cheap hd space

actually, I've got scsi drives in my 'cheap' linux box. I've seen too many IDE drives go pffft to trust my backups to them anymore. Even then, I backup to one drive then archive to another physical drive.

Backups aren't any good if the media's bad the one time you need to do a restore.


That's something to know. It seems we can get Linux boxes for a few hundred; good enough.

external drive and

external drive and HandyBackup :)

External drive here, too

I also use an external drive - this one. For software I just use WinCommander (or Midnight Commander if I'm on Linux). None of that automated stuff, I don't trust it.

We had a good long thread on this over at searchenginewatch while webmasterworld was down.

Another vote for Iomega Rev

Pocket-sized security, and pretty fast. Use a combination of Dantz Retrospect and a NAS device to pull in stuff from the LAN and HandyBackup to copy the Dantz stuff off to the REV. Have a two day father/son system with the REV, plus a weekly off-site version for full paranoid-disaster peace of mind. Oh, and a daily remote FTP system for the vital database files (again, via HandyBackup). Oh, and the latter to a daily DVD as well.

Double bagging.

Review of backup strategies, case study on automated OS X backup

I recently wrote a set of articles on backup options, including a case study/example on automated OS X backups. The site is aimed at mental health professionals, but everyone needs backups!

All the best,


External Drive

I use a FireLite drive connected via USB 2.0, and just run a freebie Windows app called SyncToy every night.

But I rather like notsleepy's solution of using a .bat file. I may try that out instead of SyncToy.

Norton Ghost and internal IDE

I have one of those removable IDE trays. Bung your hard disk in there, let Norton ghost the whole lot over - OS, data, websites, the lot. Then remove the drive. Can be done multiple times with different disks to be kept at home and at work. The idea is that I don't want to save just my data. If my disk goes down I want to be up and running and fully working within 5 minutes. The plan is that I'll pop my backup disk in the removable tray, change boot sequence in BIOS and it's like I never skipped a beat.


I run linux on my desktop so I already have the much lauded 'linux box' to hand but I have two disks in it and simply run a nightly cron job which mirrors the entire /home directory to the other disk.. the other day my primary disk died and recovery was just a matter of installing a new disk, installing the OS and then using the /home backup 'as is', dead simple.. everything still works right down to bookmarks and cookies.

On top of that the really important stuff is burned to cd's and also I rsync some data over ssh to a remote linux box.

Also my laptop (running linux) is rsynced over my lan to the backup disk in my desktop.

So, in summary.. a linux box rules. ;)

Disclaimer: this works for me, for personal pc stuff.. for servers, db's etc you probably want daily/weekly snapshots and versioning etc.

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