Backup and Storage on a Mac

The issue of storage and backup is critical.  Storage and backup is where data lives.  If data is lost, business can be lost or worse, personal memories are lost.

The two main issues of concern with data:

  1. Faster access (the faster the better)
  2. Data integrity (no data loss, ideally with access to previous revisions)

In this business of backup there are only two types of people, people that backup and those that wish they did.  Eventually drives will fail, computer will be stolen or lost, files can be deleted or overwritten, whatever the scenario data will be lost.

Single drive is not the solution

  1. Speed – varies, can be Ethernet, Firewire 800, USB 3, eSATA.
  2. Integrity – if the drive fails, you lose data as simple as that, however, backup with a single drive is better than nothing.

NAS is not the solution

  1. Speed – Despite all the claims by the manufacturers it is linked by a gigabit 1Gbit/s connection.  Actual transfer speeds much slower.
  2. Integrity – Good as long you are mindful to keep on eye on your storage and replace failed drives.  Most NAS are actually embeddded Linux computers which has an EXT filesystem as opposed to the native HFS+ filesystem for Mac.

Cloud backup is not a solution (not a full one)

It’s like “cloud” is the new buzzword.  Cloud is just a new name for a service that has existed for a while now.  Cloud is just space on a remote server, generally someone else’s.

  1. Speed – Internet speeds vary, in the country I live in, the bandwidth is not high enough to backup any significant data volumes.
  2. Integrity – excellent, however, once you choose a backup supplier, you are essentially tied for life.  Good for cloud backup business, not so good for your finances.  Also what happens if the cloud backup you choose goes out of business?

The best solution is one that offers great speed and great data integrity.  In my humble opinion:

Thunderbolt with hardware RAID is the best solution

  1. Speed – Thunderbolt storage devices offers 10Gbits/s connection speed.
  2. Integrity – Thunderbolt storage device configured in either a RAID 0 or RAID 5 array ensures data integrity.  Thunderbolt devices can be formatted in HFS+ to ensure compatibility with Macs.

There is a need to have two backup sets, one “onsite” for rapid data recovery, one “offsite” to protect against fire or theft.

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