My Mac Backup System

Crashplan backup

In our last post I wrote about the 3-2-1 backup rule, a backup method that builds in a few layers of redundancy, so that you have peace of mind knowing that your backups are safe. I have a system in place with my iMac that has served me pretty well. Depending on your interpretation, it doesn’t strictly follow the 3-2-1 backup rule.

Here’s an overview of my system:

1. My frontline backup of my iMac is my Time Machine backup. This actually backs up over my network to an Apple Time Capsule. I was using an external hard drive before buying the Time Capsule, but my desk was getting too crowded, and I wanted to free up a USB port on the iMac. Time Machine is great for going back and seeing your files as they existed at different points in time.

2. I also use SuperDuper to keep an updated clone of my internal hard drives, on a drive next to my machine. The free version of SuperDuper creates a clone of your drives. If you pay $27.95 for the full version, you can set the app to perform a smart update of your clone image at preset intervals. I can actually boot from this clone drive if there’s a problem with my main drive. This has saved my bacon on a couple of occasions.

3. My main offsite backup is done via CrashPlan, which we’ve previously covered in detail. The Family Unlimited plan is a great deal, allowing you to back up 10 computers for $119 per year.

4. I also use Dropbox, and typically save any important (but non-sensitive) file in my Dropbox folder. I then have extra redundancy, with that file stored not only on the Dropbox servers, but also synced automatically to two other machines.


The 3-2-1 backup rule requires that you backup to two different types of media. Depending on whether you consider an online backup to be a different type of media, my system might not follow that rule. The worst kind of backup, though, is one that isn’t performed. If I had to back up to a different type of media, such as tape or DVD, I probably wouldn’t perform that step at all. So my system, with a fourth layer of backup, has worked well for me. I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve had to dig out a backup of a file that I accidentally deleted, and two occasions where I had to completely restore my iMac from a backup.

My system is Mac-centric, though. We have covered four Windows options previously.

What is your backup system?


Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. Backup is SOOO under-appreciated – people just don’t realize how important it is until AFTER it’s too late. Good for you for bringing it up (again.)

    I started my current backup plan on accident – my laptop ran out of harddrive space, so I bought a 750gb passport drive and moved all my data to the external. Shortly thereafter, Mozy got rid of their unlimited plan and my backups were about to skyrocket in price, so I bought 2 more externals.

    Today I keep one external drive plugged into my office computer full-time, and I travel another one back & forth in my briefcase. I use Allway Sync to keep them completely sync’d. (along with making sure anything on my office harddrive gets sync’d to one, and then the other, external.

    Then, once a month, I bring the 3rd external to my office instead of the one that normally travels, and I sync that with the one permanently at my office computer.

    Now I have 3 drives, all in sync, and never in the same location at the same time. And since my office is 20 miles from my house (and I’m not in a densely populated city), it would take an awfully big disaster for me to lose all 3 drives at once – I’m ok with those odds and sleep well at night. :)

  2. My Time Machine has just landed on my desk — can’t wait to get going

  3. Pingback: The World’s Easiest, Most Awesome, Hands Off, Set and Forget, Document Management System (Mac) | 40Tech

  4. Very nice post. Backups are used to protect your data files in the event of system crash, hard drive failure, software malfunction etc. I love to keep my Mac backup with Stellar Drive Clone.It’s features and functionalities are awesome.

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