Backup - Backup What?

Posted:
in Genius Bar edited January 2014
We all know how important it is to do backups. But I've always wondered, backup exactly what? Certainly not a complete backup of the HD, right?



If my HD were to fail today and I needed to do a complete install from the CDs to a brand new HD, what should I have been backing up, in order to get my MacBook Pro back (as close as possible) to what I had before the failure? Here is what I'm backing up now. Basically the default Backup.app program backups.



* Personal Data & Settings

* iLife

* Purchased Music



I'm pretty sure this gets all my music, photos and movies, but I'm not sure of which personal stuff. Does this (for instance) backup what I have chosen for my screensaver? What about my Safari preferences or any other preferences in other applications? What about new 3rd party software that has been installed in the Applications folder? All my email?(!)



What do YOU backup? Suggestions?



Thanks

-DJ

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,214moderator
    I install my system and setup some apps and then backup the whole thing. Then every now and again, I manually update large folders. Ideally, I'd run an update on the large backup to sync the two but I keep extra stuff on my backup drive so I prefer to do it manually to avoid mistakes.



    The big advantage to backing up the whole system is that I can boot the external FW hard drive and keep working or repair the system on the internal drive.
  • Reply 2 of 8
    dac0nvudac0nvu Posts: 175member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Marvin

    I install my system and setup some apps and then backup the whole thing. Then every now and again, I manually update large folders. Ideally, I'd run an update on the large backup to sync the two but I keep extra stuff on my backup drive so I prefer to do it manually to avoid mistakes.



    The big advantage to backing up the whole system is that I can boot the external FW hard drive and keep working or repair the system on the internal drive.




    That sounds a little too manual for me, but if it works for you, that's great. Honestly, this is the first computer where I actually do backups. And it's because they're so easy and the software is included on a Mac. I never backed up (and miraculously never lost) anything on all the PCs I used over the years. I'm just curious as to how often and to what extent others do backups.
  • Reply 3 of 8
    benzenebenzene Posts: 338member
    I've found that people have as many ways of backing up as they do of organizing their files.



    Since I keep all of my music on it's own hard drive (40GB+ currently), I manually back that up to DVD every four/six months. Since DVDs are cheap, I don't bother to exclude music I've already backed up previously.



    I'm very careful to keep all of my personal files in my user folder, so when I need to back up (once a month or so), I just archive my home folder, segment the archive if necessary, and burn that to DVDs. Same for the other user folders.

    Supercritical files (i.e. data from work), I simply make sure I always have two copies, generally right from their generation date.



    Applications each have their own restore/install duplicate CD (along with original installation CDs for my "not grey" applications).



    Once a year, I pack up all of my backup CDs and move them offsite (usually my folks house). That way, even with a fire/what-have-you I've got at least something to start from.



    Paranoid, I know. Design a system that works for you, and stick to it. You'll be glad if/when things go south.
  • Reply 4 of 8
    tomahawktomahawk Posts: 147member
    I just bought an external hard drive and use Carbon Copy Cloner to copy the whole thing every month or so. That way if my laptop is stolen or has a problem I can boot any Intel based Mac off the hard drive and have all my settings, files, applications, etc. right where I left them.



    It's one quick, easy step.
  • Reply 5 of 8
    lundylundy Posts: 4,466member
    Apps folder and home folder should be enough, but some apps put prefs files and other auxiliary files in higher-level folders:



    Check these locations to make sure you don't have things in there



    /Library/Application Support

    /Library/Preferences

    /Library/Preference Panes



    Flip4Mac, for example, puts a file in there. So does Timbuktu, GarageBand, printer software, and some Adobe apps.
  • Reply 6 of 8
    Quote:

    Originally posted by lundy

    Apps folder and home folder should be enough, but some apps put prefs files and other auxiliary files in higher-level folders:



    Check these locations to make sure you don't have things in there



    /Library/Application Support

    /Library/Preferences

    /Library/Preference Panes



    Flip4Mac, for example, puts a file in there. So does Timbuktu, GarageBand, printer software, and some Adobe apps.




    Adium also puts some stuff in ~/Library/Application Support/



    I, like Tomahawk, do a clone to an external hard drive. I figure there's more chance of my PowerBook's hard drive going bust than a virus. In fact it did just last year and before it got repaired I was using my backup drive to run. Otherwise, I would have been without a computer for 3-4 weeks.
  • Reply 7 of 8
    vox barbaravox barbara Posts: 2,021member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by dac0nvu

    We all know how important it is to do backups. ...



    * Personal Data & Settings

    * iLife

    * Purchased Music



    ...




    It is a good idea to copy/backup partly your

    personal library folder, which is located within

    your User Folder.



    Peronally, i think these folders inside your

    personal library are most important.



    Calendars

    Keychains

    Mail

    Preferences

    Safari



    If you are using MS Office (chiefly Entourage), it is a pretty good idea to

    backup the MS User data folder inside the main documents folder frequently.

    If *something* goes wrong with Entourage, you will have a sufficient

    collection of M$ files to start over and continue your life



    cheers
  • Reply 8 of 8
    mikefmikef Posts: 697member
    I regularly backup everything to an external hard drive using SuperDuper. Every month, I make a disk image, split it up with dar and write those images to DVD. I've been doing this too long and lost too much data in the past not to go to these extremes.



    While there are certainly files/directories that don't need to be backed up, I'd much rather backup too much than too little.
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