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Backup Software (Page 2)
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P
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Jul 18, 2014, 05:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
Man, I already stated above what I try and do. In fact, I have no idea about "checksum", nor do I have software that can do that.
What you have stated above amounts to you not doing anything about file corruption. You can checksum files using software in the OS, if you want, although there are no tools to automate the process built-in. I guess you could hack one up as a shell script easily enough, but I am not going to do it for you.

Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
Might seem like a "Poor man's RAID", but it works for me, and with a product that has numerous positive reviews.
Poor man's RAID is not derogatory. RAID has been around for decades and there are companies selling very expensive equipment to make sure usage of it quick and efficient. I suspect any medium to large company uses RAID if they don't outsource IT altogether.

Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
And, you still have not explained that serious defect in Time Machine that I mentioned: cannot boot from it.
Nothing to explain about it - it is designed that way. That's the way backup systems are generally designed. It is changing now, but for the longest time, backups outside home settings were generally on tape. That pretty definitely excluded booting from your backup. It is generally not desirable to boot from your backup, as that would risk ruining the only good copy you have. If you want quick turnaround from a disk failure, you use RAID.

This is coming back to one of the perennial favorites in discussions like this: RAID is not backup. Google that phrase if you want a few million other people telling you the same thing. They're different things - one does not replace the other, nor is one better than the other. RAID protects against hardware failure. It does not protect against file corruption, user error, malware attacks or a number of other things.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Jul 18, 2014, 05:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
Yes, it is a duplicate of whatever was there. Same goes for Time Machine backups. Corrupt or not, it makes a backup.
I don't know why this CRUCIAL difference isn't getting across:

Time Machine makes backups, corrupt AND not.

Your clone is corrupt OR not.
You have no way of telling until it's too late.

With Time Machine, you know, because you can revert to a previous, non-corrupt version. THAT is a "back-up" of your data.
     
akent35  (op)
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Jul 18, 2014, 06:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
I don't know why this CRUCIAL difference isn't getting across:

Time Machine makes backups, corrupt AND not.

Your clone is corrupt OR not.
You have no way of telling until it's too late.

With Time Machine, you know, because you can revert to a previous, non-corrupt version. THAT is a "back-up" of your data.
And, I don't know why you (and others) are playing with the word "backup". The links I provided clearly show that copying is used in both descriptions. My "clone" is a backup, plain and simple. And, it serves my purpose: to be able to easily do a restore, if needed.

I do understand that Time Machine makes multiple backups, and that some of them are corrupt, some of them are not, and some contain new "corruptions" And, running Super Duper much less frequently (and only keeping one copy) is corrupt or not. But again, I am doing all I can to minimize, as much as possible, corrupt information between backups.

Is that CLEAR enough for you?
( Last edited by akent35; Jul 18, 2014 at 06:22 PM. )
     
I-ku-u
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Jul 18, 2014, 06:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
That's worth pointing out, it's just a matter of expectation value: even if, say, the probability of a bit flip within the time span of a year is 1 : 1 billion = 1 : 10^9, you end up with thousands of flipped bits on a 1 TB. We really, really need file checksums in file systems. (I've tried looking up real probabilities, but I was unable to find anything.)
Bitrot & corruption are visible problems, if one pays attention.

For example, I'm a big fan of Game of Thrones. For nearly every episode of the last season, I would see occasional corrupted images when the episode was aired on HBO's primary channel. Corruption that was precisely repeated when it was aired again later in the week, still on HBO's primary - yet was absent when the episode aired on any of the secondary channels. So regardless of where the source file was when used, it was corrupted and distinct from the sources used for the other channels.
-------
However, the main point I want to add to this discussion is this: the best backup method for you is the one that addresses the primary risks for you to the integrity, existence, and availability of your data.

Is your data used in an environment where you need to be able to quickly return to work even if the machine you're used to using (or part of it) dies? Then some variation on: "a bootable clone of your work machine, with your working data also stored/replicated elsewhere", is necessary.

Do you need to trust that your data is pristine and unaltered, potentially years from now? Then you need to store it on a filesystem that has checksumming and error-correction builtin - or in files that can replicate that behavior (do such file types exist?).

Do you need to protect your data from user accidents, OS update snafus, file corruption, or anything else that might change your data without you realizing it until much later? Then you need to keep (not "make", but "keep") regular backups of your data, that are all accessible. Note: this is not the same risk as the last question, unless you have the ability to inspect and recreate the data in question - which is true only for people that don't really have any data at all.

Do you need to protect against a natural disaster taking out your home or business? Then you need offsite backups. If you consider "in the cloud" to be offsite, then you add the risk that your data "in the cloud" succumbs to any of the above issues (including disaster) via the provider (remember the photographer who lost his data disks just before mega, where his cloud backup was stored, got seized?)

Most of us involved in this discussion likely worry about multiple of those risks.

Regardless of which we individually worry about, a backup solution is simply a method of risk mitigation. It is good for you if the remaining risks become too expensive or effort intensive to effectively address/mitigate. Which is why the more "automatic" your backup method is, the better, as it makes it easier to address more of the risks.
     
bdmarsh
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Jul 18, 2014, 06:17 PM
 
The best backup is one that worked and took the least amount of time to recover from. (In much the same way that "the best camera is the one you have with you")

RAID mirroring or with parity (can prevent any downtime, but doesn't protect against corruption or accidental file deletion)
Clone - as long as it is done periodically/scheduled can mean you are up and running in minutes (generally takes at least several minutes to hours depending on how much data to create the clone, shouldn't use computer while cloning, will not have files created since the last clone)
Time Machine - fast, hourly, file history (not bootable, still can miss a file that is created between the hourly backups, can get corrupted from various causes)
Internet Backup (cloud, or other solution like BTsync with other family members or friends of the most important files) to cover for catastrophic physical failures like fire, flood, theft. (one of the slower backup methods both for creating, as well as recovering from, some internet backup companies offer a fast recovery option of copying your data to a hard drive and shipping it to you for a fee)
Physical media backup (DVD, Blu-ray, portable hard drive) to another location, less common now with some of the internet backup options, but it can be faster to recover data by just driving to where a backup is contained and bringing it, rather than dealing with internet download speeds.

At the very least, I always recommend one local method, and one "out of house" method, and push for any people I do support for to get them going. With a bit if advance work, these can even be combined.

Each method does have advantages and disadvantages which is why more than one is best.
     
akent35  (op)
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Jul 18, 2014, 06:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
What you have stated above amounts to you not doing anything about file corruption. You can checksum files using software in the OS, if you want, although there are no tools to automate the process built-in. I guess you could hack one up as a shell script easily enough, but I am not going to do it for you.
I never asked you to, and I don't want you to. My use of the tools I choose, along with the practices I do each and every day, are good enough for my purposes.

Originally Posted by P View Post
Poor man's RAID is not derogatory. RAID has been around for decades and there are companies selling very expensive equipment to make sure usage of it quick and efficient. I suspect any medium to large company uses RAID if they don't outsource IT altogether.
I am talking about doing this on one's machine, on their own. It has nothing to do with RAID. I never said it did.

Plain and simple, I am just talking about desktop software that most people would use. (Man, that's the second time I am stating this.)

Originally Posted by P View Post
Nothing to explain about it - it is designed that way. That's the way backup systems are generally designed. It is changing now, but for the longest time, backups outside home settings were generally on tape. That pretty definitely excluded booting from your backup. It is generally not desirable to boot from your backup, as that would risk ruining the only good copy you have. If you want quick turnaround from a disk failure, you use RAID.
I'm not taking about RAID (man, can't you understand that?). Backup software has got better and better. I actually used to use Retrospect, and although (from what I remember) not bootable, it was about the best way to do a backup (NON RAID) on one's system (one could use it for RAID arrays).

Originally Posted by P View Post
This is coming back to one of the perennial favorites in discussions like this: RAID is not backup. Google that phrase if you want a few million other people telling you the same thing. They're different things - one does not replace the other, nor is one better than the other. RAID protects against hardware failure. It does not protect against file corruption, user error, malware attacks or a number of other things.
Again, not talking about RAID.
     
mattyb
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Jul 18, 2014, 06:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
And, I don't know why you (and others) are playing with the word "backup". The links I provided clearly show that copying is used in both descriptions. My "clone" is a backup, plain and simple. And, it serves my purpose: to be able to easily do a restore, if needed.

I do understand that Time Machine makes multiple backups, and that some of them are corrupt, some of them are not, and some contain new "corruptions" And, running Super Duper much less frequently (and only keeping one copy) is corrupt or not. But again, I am doing all I can to [b[minimize[/b], as much as possible, corrupt information.

Is that CLEAR enough for you?
You just don't get that someone is trying to help you, to explain why your method may cause loss of data, and suggests another method that will not suffer this problem. Listen to these people who have years of Mac experience between them, and follow their advice.
     
akent35  (op)
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Jul 18, 2014, 06:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
You just don't get that someone is trying to help you, to explain why your method may cause loss of data, and suggests another method that will not suffer this problem. Listen to these people who have years of Mac experience between them, and follow their advice.
I am listening to all that. But, some statements/comments, etc. are just plain mis-statements. And, I have been using Apple machines since 1983, and Macs (at home) since 1996. I also have experience, but it is always good to share experiences. It's just when folks get so adamant about their beliefs, views, etc., and distort the facts that I have to voice objections.

I have yet to see, with desktop software that most people would use, a sure fire way of avoiding corruption with backups. Yes, without doing basically anything else, Time Machine possibly offers a solution. But, that seems like a "hit and miss" way. To get to a non-corrupt backup is no easy task.

And yes, with Super Duper (and especially using it in sponsored mode), corrupt information could be more "prevalent", and of course without keeping multiple backups, it has basically "no point of return", so to speak.

But, my practices between, and during] my backup processing are the best I can do, at this point, to minimize corruption. Again, note that I said MINIMIZE, not ELIMINATE.

Again, there are pluses and minuses with any such solution. Even using both does not eliminate corrupt information being backed up. I guess if one is really "paranoid" about this, one can do the following to eliminate, as much as possible, corrupt information (and not run any other applications, except by themselves):

1. Between Time Machine backups, run various programs to assist in that effort. Myself, that would be ClamXav, Onyx, and Tech Tool (or Disk Warrior). Yes, each has a separate purpose, and only ClamXav would have a potential influence on corrupt information. (I also would continue with my clean up activities).

2. Once Time Machine completes, and still without running anything else, use Super Duper to do the other backup.

Obviously, the more frequently this is done, the better (as far as corruption is concerned). Myself, that is not necessary.
     
Charles Martin
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Jul 18, 2014, 07:08 PM
 
I'll just add for those who are paranoid about putting selected data in "the cloud," here's three tidbits to consider:

1. An offsite backup is a very, very good idea for the small (in most people's cases) amount of genuinely sensitive data they have.

2. There is nothing stopping you from using strong encryption on said data <b>before</b> you upload it to any sort of cloud service, and it's very easy to do (all that sensitive data stored on an encrypted disk image, for example).

3. Apple's iCloud encrypts the data stored on it automatically, so there would seem to be little reason to be "paranoid" about that particular service, at least. I'm sure some of the other cloud services do as well, but Apple makes a point of this, and features two-step verification if desired.
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OreoCookie
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Jul 18, 2014, 07:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by I-ku-u View Post
However, the main point I want to add to this discussion is this: the best backup method for you is the one that addresses the primary risks for you to the integrity, existence, and availability of your data.
There isn't one backup method, what you need is a backup strategy. The most common source of data loss is user error, e. g. the user overwrites or deletes an important file. This is something people tend to forget, it's not bit rot or because two apps simultaneously write to a file (which they can't anyway). My sister lost 2 weeks worth of work on her Masters Thesis, because she chose to reinstall Windows on her machine, for instance.

To get a consistent backup is really easy and since 10.5 free. (I've tried Tivoli Storage Manager and Retrospect at work, two horrible pieces of software. I've burnt CD-Rs and DVD-Rs once a month. I've even implemented a server-side backup via Amanda on a FreeBSD server.) The OP seems stuck in a mindset before Time Machine existed: Time Machine a robust, reliable and easy to use backup tool. Of course, it doesn't fit everyone's bill, but it's a good start even for people who don't normally do my backup -- and a lot of other people as well.

Moreover, not all data is created equal: I can bear to wait for a considerable amount of time to completely restore my video collection from an online backup, but I need my active work files asap. And maybe you need to be able to continue working after a catastrophic volume failure within minutes.

But the answer is not A or B, but rather A and B. It's not that if you need a bootable clone of your volume that you have to give up on other backup methods. In fact, the more redundancy you have, the better. I have two Time Machine drives (one at work, one at home), I have certain documents on Dropbox and I use Backblaze. (I don't need clones, it's ok for me to be able to reinstall within 1 hour.) None of these by themselves is sufficient for me, but combined they cover my rear-end pretty well. Let me put it this way: if I lose all of those backups, I think I have bigger problems than losing my data. But the solution is not perfect, and I intend to improve upon it.

What worries me are aspects which I cannot have yet without significantly increasing my effort: I'd like a NAS with a modern filesystem, for instance. Right now, I'd have to build one myself, but that'd be impractical and prohibitively expensive for me.
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Jul 18, 2014 at 07:42 PM. )
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Jul 18, 2014, 07:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by chas_m View Post
3. Apple's iCloud encrypts the data stored on it automatically, so there would seem to be little reason to be "paranoid" about that particular service, at least. I'm sure some of the other cloud services do as well, but Apple makes a point of this, and features two-step verification if desired.
There are also cloud services for the paranoid such as SpiderOak which encrypt everything client-side. Although I don't recommend it in a collaborative environment: if two techies can't figure out how to share a directory, then your product has a problem
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Spheric Harlot
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Jul 18, 2014, 07:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
And, I don't know why you (and others) are playing with the word "backup". The links I provided clearly show that copying is used in both descriptions. My "clone" is a backup, plain and simple. And, it serves my purpose: to be able to easily do a restore, if needed.
You're insisting that I'm attacking you. I'm not.

I'm explaining that a duplicate of a broken file is a duplicate of a broken file. Cloning bad data leaves you with bad data.

If you have a versioned backup, you'll probably have a copy of GOOD data even if something goes south before you notice it (and you don't until it's too late).
     
Spheric Harlot
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Jul 18, 2014, 07:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
I'm not taking about RAID (man, can't you understand that?). Backup software has got better and better. I actually used to use Retrospect, and although (from what I remember) not bootable, it was about the best way to do a backup (NON RAID) on one's system (one could use it for RAID arrays).

Again, not talking about RAID.
Effectively, you ARE.

Because what you're doing is equivalent to what a mirrored RAID does.
     
akent35  (op)
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Jul 18, 2014, 07:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
You're insisting that I'm attacking you. I'm not.

I'm explaining that a duplicate of a broken file is a duplicate of a broken file. Cloning bad data leaves you with bad data.

If you have a versioned backup, you'll probably have a copy of GOOD data even if something goes south before you notice it (and you don't until it's too late).
I am not saying you are attacking me. What you are not understanding is my valid statement that with any backup software being used (don't care if folks like you use the word "cloning" for Super Duper, it STILL makes a backup of ALL your information), the chance of corrupt data being present is the same, including the broken file/files. But yes, when one has a versioned backup (can achieve that, although not as easily, with the paid version of Super Duper), there is the possibility that one of those does not contain THE corrupt file/data. But, another file ON THAT SAME backup could be corrupt, but in a still earlier backup, not be corrupt.

Again, I COMPLETELY understand that,. Getting to the non-corrupt back up, though, does not seem like an easy task. But, it can be done. I understand that.

Actually, I can also have a versioned backup with the sponsored mode of Super Duper, but it of course would be nowhere as seem less as Time Machine.

Finally, I offered a "paranoid" way of using both products, and minimizing corrupt files/data. Again, though, that is not for me. My backup strategy actually starts right after I make the last back up (usually on a Saturday), and it continues through my next backup on the next Saturday. Then, I start again.

Once again, I state the essential point: what strategy (including software) is good for one is not necessarily good for others. Similarly, what strategies are good for others are not necessarily good for me. By good, I mean, of course, what one prefers. At least we are all doing something, some possibly more than others.
     
akent35  (op)
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Jul 18, 2014, 07:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Effectively, you ARE.

Because what you're doing is equivalent to what a mirrored RAID does.
Here is the definition of RAID (along with the link it came from, which contains additional, detailed comments):

"RAID (originally redundant array of inexpensive disks; now commonly redundant array of independent disks) is a data storage virtualization technology that combines multiple disk drive components into a logical unit for the purposes of data redundancy or performance improvement.[1]

Data is distributed across the drives in one of several ways, referred to as RAID levels, depending on the specific level of redundancy and performance required. The different schemes or architectures are named by the word RAID followed by a number (e.g. RAID 0, RAID 1). Each scheme provides a different balance between the key goals: reliability and availability, performance and capacity. RAID levels greater than RAID 0 provide protection against unrecoverable (sector) read errors, as well as whole disk failure."

RAID - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

That certainly seems WAY BEYOND what is being discussed here.
     
turtle777
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Jul 18, 2014, 08:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
RAID - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

That certainly seems WAY BEYOND what is being discussed here.
LOL, YOU brought RAID into the discussion.

Not sure why you did that, just to later point out that it's not relevant to this discussion.

-t
     
akent35  (op)
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Jul 18, 2014, 08:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
LOL, YOU brought RAID into the discussion.

Not sure why you did that, just to later point out that it's not relevant to this discussion.

-t
Man, can't you read? P started this RAID business earlier.
     
turtle777
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Jul 18, 2014, 08:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
Man, can't you read? P started this RAID business earlier.
Oh, I see. I indeed missed that post.

-t
     
I-ku-u
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Jul 18, 2014, 09:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
There isn't one backup method, what you need is a backup strategy.
Either you are being exceptionally pedantic about the meaning of method vs strategy, or you are trolling by deliberately misunderstanding my words.

Nowhere did I state that only one solution would satisfy everyone's needs. While I didn't explicitly state that multiple solutions would be required, since I did explicitly state that most of us face multiple risks and each risk has its own solution, it is clearly implied that multiple actions are required if multiple types of risks are of a concern.
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Moreover, not all data is created equal
I agree, and is also part of the risk/effort equation that each of us must solve for ourselves with the information available.

To emphasize this point, I have several TB worth of data for which it is more important to know "this is not corrupt" than "I will always have it available." Because, as it happens, while I use the data, I get it (sometimes quite slowly) from other sources. So that data gets stored in ZFS, with redundancy for error-correction, but is otherwise not backed up. My e-mails, work and personal, are simply backed up using Time machine. The risk of corruption is marginal and, while I keep multiple decades worth available, it exists primarily to jog my memory. Dealing with the format changes over time has proven harder than keeping the e-mail available.
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
But, my practices between, and during] my backup processing are the best I can do, at this point, to minimize corruption. Again, note that I said MINIMIZE, not ELIMINATE.
This is the best philosophy to have when designing the backup method/strategy to match your needs.
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
I have yet to see, with desktop software that most people would use, a sure fire way of avoiding corruption with backups.
That caveat of "that most people would use" is the problem. The technology exists, but it is not yet available in a way that satisfies that caveat. I easily have the skills & knowledge to modify my backup method(s) to ensure that all my backups are provably not corrupt, but for me, it's not worth the effort.

The "ideal backup system" simply doesn't exist.

That said, for akent35, I suggest the following method to address the risk corruption for the data that you must be absolutely sure is not corrupt. This uses tools available and accessible to most, tho' most would not use them. Whether this is easy enough for your needs, or can be modified so that it is, or even well addresses your concerns, only you can decide. Hopefully it at least gives you a useful idea to run with.
1) Use Disk Utility to create a disk image for your data. Use SuperDuper, or CCC (or whatever tool best fits your needs) to backup your files into that image.
2) Duplicate the image at least once after you have finished adding files to it, to whatever destinations suit your needs.
3) Use your favorite tool to verify, after a reboot, that the disk images are all in agreement (this is faster as a file comparison on the .dmg file, than on the contents of the image). I know CCC can do this, dunno about SuperDuper, but I think it likely can as well.
4) Verify that the disk images open successfully.

Step 1 is because disk images support a checksum to detect corruption. Step 2 is because the checksum doesn't support correction of those errors. Step 4 is to verify that no corruption exists.

Step 3 is to verify that each copy is as good as any other. The after reboot caveat is because if you check soon enough after creating/copying the file, the disk hardware will return the data from its internal cache, instead of reading it from disk. An interval of reading/writing sufficient other data on the disk would work as well as a reboot, but correctly defining "sufficient" there is difficult.

Steps 3 and 4 may be repeated at regular intervals to confirm the integrity of the data. If one image proves to be corrupt, then hopefully the others, regardless of where they are, are not also corrupt and you can replace the corrupt file with a copy from one of the others. Carry out step 3 anytime the .dmg file is copied, to be sure the copy is valid.

Sadly, I can't think of a good way to do the whole set of steps 1-4 automatically, on a regular basis. It would require some moderate scripting skill and likely lots of space relative to the amount of data being backed up, as each run would be considered a full backup (equivalent to a clone in meaning) instead of an incremental backup (Time Machine essentially operates this way).

BTW, while I won't claim to have all the answers here about backup systems, I do have multiple years of experience responsible for the academic backup systems at two large universities - both pioneers in getting several thousand students integrated into one cohesive environment. It was very necessary to be able to abstractly address multiple risks at once, calmly deal with unexpected failures and stay sane all at the same time (my friends might say I failed on the last point (-: ).

Oh, one last comment - a standard RAID array does nothing to address corruption. In fact, it increases the likelihood of silent corruption occurring because there's no integrity or consistency checking of the data replicated/striped across the disks. {Edit: unless you have multiple TB of data, this isn't likely a large enough of an increased risk to be important).
     
turtle777
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Jul 18, 2014, 09:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by I-ku-u View Post
The "ideal backup system" simply doesn't exist.
Of course it does, question is, at what price.

Data on redundant RAID + local Time Machine + Time Machine on external HD, stored offsite + incremental backups to the cloud.

You will probably say "not ideal for you", but that's YOUR problem.
There are strategies that cover all possible risks. Those would be ideal by most people's standards.

-t
     
OreoCookie
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Jul 18, 2014, 09:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by I-ku-u View Post
Either you are being exceptionally pedantic about the meaning of method vs strategy, or you are trolling by deliberately misunderstanding my words.

Nowhere did I state that only one solution would satisfy everyone's needs. While I didn't explicitly state that multiple solutions would be required, since I did explicitly state that most of us face multiple risks and each risk has its own solution, it is clearly implied that multiple actions are required if multiple types of risks are of a concern.
I don't think I was being pedantic, I was just pointing out what I think is very important: a backup strategy should be a multi-pronged approach, and since you didn't mention that explicitly in your previous post, I wanted to point that out just in case.

Oh, and do you want to tell us a little more about your ZFS backup solution? Do you use FreeNAS? Is it a repurposed PC or custom-built hardware?
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weinhous
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Jul 19, 2014, 09:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I don't think I was being pedantic, I was just pointing out what I think is very important: a backup strategy should be a multi-pronged approach, and since you didn't mention that explicitly in your previous post, I wanted to point that out just in case.

Oh, and do you want to tell us a little more about your ZFS backup solution? Do you use FreeNAS? Is it a repurposed PC or custom-built hardware?
I use TimeMachine and CCC to have readily available backups and a clone, but need to extend my solution to multiple Macs. So I am also very interested in TimeMachine-compatible NAS solutions and would also like to hear more about the FreeNAS (and the iX FreeNAS Mini ?) solution(s). Thanks in advance.
     
OreoCookie
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Jul 19, 2014, 10:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by weinhous View Post
I use TimeMachine and CCC to have readily available backups and a clone, but need to extend my solution to multiple Macs. So I am also very interested in TimeMachine-compatible NAS solutions and would also like to hear more about the FreeNAS (and the iX FreeNAS Mini ?) solution(s). Thanks in advance.
Basically, you have two routes: go for a NAS from a company such as Synology or build one yourself.

I mention Synology because they make the best NAS for consumers. Not only is the hardware very good, but the most important thing is the software. And they are quite flexible: you can install backup daemons for cloud services such as Crashplan. And they do support Time Machine as well (as a target, meaning you can use your Synology NAS as a Time Machine volume). Of course, other reputable companies such as QNAP have a similar feature set. Beware of cheap NAS (e. g. Thecus) because their software isn't up to the standards. Moreover, Synology and other best-of-breed NAS companies make regular software updates available for older NAS, because they are all based on the same software platform. Of course, you do pay a little extra compared to a self-built NAS, especially if you can re-use an old PC, but for that you get a much smaller unit and you don't have to fiddle with software.

Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any consumer-level NAS that uses either btrfs or ZFS (please anyone correct me if I'm wrong). Then you need to build your own NAS. With repurposed PC hardware, that should be quite cheap, but on the other hand, 6-year old PC hardware is more prone to hardware failure than new hardware. And quality components are a bit pricier than el cheapo stuff. In any case, you can use FreeNAS or NAS4Free (which is a fork of FreeNAS); in case you're interested in how they compare, I recommend you have a look at this recent arstechnica article. At least FreeNAS supports Time Machine, but I reckon, so does NAS4Free. ZFS needs a good amount of RAM to work with (about 1 GB per 1 TB of storage, and FreeNAS recommends you put in at least 8 GB of RAM regardless; the RAM requirement increases to 5 GB per TB if you intend to use deduplication.)

If you want to go full bananas, you can of course install FreeBSD and build your own NAS system from scratch. This also gives you access to the nitty and gritty options of ZFS, e. g. you can ask ZFS to keep multiple copies of files of a particular file system. That gives you much more flexibility than RAID1. You can keep 1 copy of less important data (e. g. caches, temporary files and OS install files) while you can keep 2 or 3 copies of important data. ZFS automatically tries to spread the copies across different physical disks, but you can also do this if you only have a single disk. That protects you against bit rot, because ZFS automatically recognizes faulty data (bit rot in copy 1) and then transparently accesses the pristine copy 2. And it makes yet another copy to replace the corrupted copy 1.

Personally, I think I'll be getting a NAS in 1-2 years. I'm not sure if I'll build one myself or just get a Synology box. My Retina MacBook Pro threw me for a loop, and right now, I'm not happy with the way my data is spread over multiple external hard drives.
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panjandrum
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Jul 19, 2014, 10:47 AM
 
I'm sure it's been said, but here goes:

I always setup both solutions - CCC + time machine. If your single backup drive is big enough you can partition it in two to achieve this, but obviously using two backup drives is the better (safer) solution. To restore accidentally deleted files, just rollback with time machine. Or, when your internal drive fails, boot from the clone. If you discover corrupt files restore them to a previous point with time machine. Done. Two very different solutions which work together to form a great backup solution. There are many possible variations on this theme based on your personal preferences.
     
OreoCookie
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Jul 19, 2014, 10:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
I do understand that Time Machine makes multiple backups, and that some of them are corrupt, some of them are not, and some contain new "corruptions"
Where do you get the idea that Time Machine backups are corrupt? I think you misunderstood the earlier discussion here: things like bit rot corrupt the source, and the best any backup method (Backblaze, Time Machine, tape, CCC, SuperDuper) can do is make a faithful copy of the original. Time Machine does not have a problem making error-free backups, it does not introduce »new corruptions« or some such. There are no wide-spread problems with it. You write
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
Getting to the non-corrupt back up, though, does not seem like an easy task.
When in fact, it is an easy task. You seem to focus on a problem that doesn't exist.
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reader50
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Jul 19, 2014, 11:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
ZFS automatically tries to spread the copies across different physical disks, but you can also do this if you only have a single disk. That protects you against bit rot, because ZFS automatically recognizes faulty data (bit rot in copy 1) and then transparently accesses the pristine copy 2. And it makes yet another copy to replace the corrupted copy 1.
Does ZFS do background scans, proactively looking for errors, or (as the wording implies) does it only catch the error on retrieval? Eventually, our typical storage sizes will grow big enough we'll need background checking, to avoid the small chance of damage to all copies.
     
OreoCookie
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Jul 19, 2014, 11:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Does ZFS do background scans, proactively looking for errors, or (as the wording implies) does it only catch the error on retrieval? Eventually, our typical storage sizes will grow big enough we'll need background checking, to avoid the small chance of damage to all copies.
You can schedule ZFS file system scrubs (that's ZFS lingo for computing checksums of the data on a whole filesystem and comparing that against the checksums which accompany a data block). But data is checked for integrity every time you access it, so you can be sure to at least detect bit rot. If you have copies of your data available (e. g. by making a mirrored pool or having multiple copies of your file available), it'll automatically fix the error for you.
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I-ku-u
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Jul 19, 2014, 12:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Of course it does, question is, at what price.

Data on redundant RAID + local Time Machine + Time Machine on external HD, stored offsite + incremental backups to the cloud.

You will probably say "not ideal for you", but that's YOUR problem.
There are strategies that cover all possible risks. Those would be ideal by most people's standards.
My turn to be pedantic. I submit your imagination is lacking when you think of "all possible risks". I'll just mention two (of four that came to mind), can you think of others? (-:

At the simplest level, there is always the risk of multiple individual risks occurring together.

How about someone with access to you and/or your hardware endeavors to deliberately destroy your data (might even be you if you get drunk/high with friends at some point). Yes, it's unlikely, but we're talking about what's possible here.

But, given the exact definition of the word ideal, I will stand corrected. The ideal backup system can exist, if one uses the meaning for ideal of "most suitable" according to one's conception - with the understanding that suitable takes into account all tradeoffs that are of import. I originally used "ideal" in the sense closer to "perfect".
     
turtle777
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Jul 19, 2014, 12:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by I-ku-u View Post
At the simplest level, there is always the risk of multiple individual risks occurring together.

How about someone with access to you and/or your hardware endeavors to deliberately destroy your data (might even be you if you get drunk/high with friends at some point). Yes, it's unlikely, but we're talking about what's possible here.
How is that a specific BACKUP risk ?

This is a security and access risk. You can surely prevent this by locking your offsite external HDs securely, and choosing a secure password for the cloud backup.

-t
     
weinhous
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Jul 19, 2014, 12:34 PM
 
OreoCookie: Thanks for your informative reply. I'll take another look at Synology (and their too-many options :-) Are you at all familiar with the new FreeNAS Mini <http://www.ixsystems.com/storage/freenas/>?

Thanks again,

Marty
     
I-ku-u
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Jul 19, 2014, 01:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Oh, and do you want to tell us a little more about your ZFS backup solution? Do you use FreeNAS? Is it a repurposed PC or custom-built hardware?
Well, I wouldn't call my use of ZFS as a backup solution. Like most people here, it's part of a whole and it does its part.

I have ZFS running on my primary Mac, a 2009 Mac Pro. I'm still using Zevo's version with Mountain Lion as the newer port that supports Mavericks still appears to have some issues that I'm not ready to try to face (or determine that I'm wrong about their existence).

Part of my reticence is that I upgraded to Zevo's ZFS from the old MacZFS port, and that was a huge improvement in usability for me, I think due to the individual in charge of that port explicitly porting it to support correct MacOS filesystem behavior instead of perfect ZFS compatibility. And I see the developers in charge of the new port that runs on Mavericks favoring the perfect ZFS compatibility.

I pretty much know that in the next couple of months I need to migrate somehow, either to the newer port of ZFS, or turn my 2009 Mac Pro into a file-server, but I'm still thinking about those details and how to investigate which is the better option without jumping in without a parachute.

Anywho, the ZFS pools are all raidz2 configurations, using 6 disks each and are primarily used to store the large files that I use (as a hobby, actually) that I want to be sure do not get corrupted over time. These pools have regular snapshots that expire after a few weeks, to protect against user error, which I can avoid better than most, but still happen. The two extra disks mean that when I occasionally have to RMA one of them, I still have redundancy in the pool. There have even been a couple of times when I took advantage of that to deliberately remove a disk from a pool and temporarily repurpose it, before returning it to the pool.

I was in the process of migrating parts of my user folder into ZFS, and I started with some of the more critical ones, to my mind, like where my source code lives. But that was put on hold when I realized Zevo's ZFS port would never get updated. The snapshots of the corresponding filesets are preserved indefinitely, but with reduced frequency as they age. A script I wrote manages all the snapshot work, for both types of filesets.

Each of my pool's disks are spread through multiple enclosures so if any one enclosure dies, the pools are still available. And the cabling connections are distributed across multiple interfaces (tho' not really enough to fully protect against card failure, not enough card slots). But I do not have any backup to protect against a failure that renders the data in a pool completely unavailable. This is due to cost constraints and the realization that such a mishap is likely (given the hardware's arrangement) to also completely destroy my machine. In that event, I expect to have far larger concerns than preserving the ZFS data.

I also use Time Machine for my personal data. Nothing fancy going on there.

The biggest shortcoming in my current setup is likely in how I'm handling my source code. Due to how my original plans got aborted, I haven't gotten around to finding a final solution yet. I had intended to script up something to periodically copy the code to either a location Time Machine would handle, or to another "backup" ZFS pool (or both).

So, I'm a great example of "not all data is created equal" but not so much for "using a backup strategy that's just good enough" (since it's only partially implemented). ZFS gets me some protection on the large data without having to fully back it up, Time Machine handles most of the rest.
     
I-ku-u
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Jul 19, 2014, 01:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
How is that a specific BACKUP risk ?

This is a security and access risk. You can surely prevent this by locking your offsite external HDs securely, and choosing a secure password for the cloud backup.

-t
Any risk that can damage, or render unavailable, your data is a backup risk.

In any case, your suggestion explicitly fails to fully address either the risk of "multiple other risks occurring together" or "you get drunk/high and decide to destroy the data yourself" (there are other variations on that one involving coercion, btw, that I consider equivalent).

Since you didn't even try to think of other risks, I'll give you another (the third of 4 that I first thought of). Natural disaster that destroys your machine, your offsite location (ok, this might survive if it's a few hundred miles away...), and kills whoever has access to your cloud encryption key (but not everyone that might need/use the data). And no, I'm not counting a large meteorite as such a disaster, but something more common like a hurricane, flood, tornado, tsunami or earthquake.

Yes, I am perhaps being absurd and/or silly with these suggestions. But you claimed that you can design a backup solution that works against all possible risks - not likely, not probable, not even realistic, but possible.

I had hoped you would understand and then test your imagination. Maybe you understand now, in which case I repeat my question: can you think of another (single event) risk that your setup fails to address? [Edit: hint, my 4th idea is actually probable]

Cheers!
     
turtle777
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Jul 19, 2014, 02:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by I-ku-u View Post
Yes, I am perhaps being absurd and/or silly with these suggestions. But you claimed that you can design a backup solution that works against all possible risks - not likely, not probable, not even realistic, but possible.
I stand corrected.

It will protect against all possible risks, except EPIC BAD KARMA that you are conjuring up.

Are you done being silly ?

-t
     
OreoCookie
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Jul 19, 2014, 03:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by I-ku-u View Post
Well, I wouldn't call my use of ZFS as a backup solution. Like most people here, it's part of a whole and it does its part.
I assumed you're backing up to a ZFS-based NAS.
Originally Posted by I-ku-u View Post
I have ZFS running on my primary Mac, a 2009 Mac Pro. I'm still using Zevo's version with Mountain Lion as the newer port that supports Mavericks still appears to have some issues that I'm not ready to try to face (or determine that I'm wrong about their existence).
I was also a ZEVO user until I upgraded to Mavericks. You should know that ZEVO has been cancelled, because Greenbytes has been bought by Oracle. It's a pity that you need to switch away from ZFS. I felt much better when I could test the integrity of my files by doing a scrub …
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
OreoCookie
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Jul 19, 2014, 03:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by weinhous View Post
Are you at all familiar with the new FreeNAS Mini <http://www.ixsystems.com/storage/freenas/>?
No, I've never tried it, sorry.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Jul 19, 2014, 03:40 PM
 
Totally not how I thought this thread was going to go.
     
turtle777
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Jul 19, 2014, 04:12 PM
 
Is this a mod and staff past time, guessing how threads will end ?

-t
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Jul 19, 2014, 04:53 PM
 
Yeah. We tape thread names to hamsters, race them in the expansive halls of the MacNN anti-nuclear attack compound.

(My backup is a Time Machine backup locally every week or so, with an imaging for speedy recovery once a month or so. I keep the last two images, with the more recent one off-site. Important stuff like taxes, pictures, etc goes into a safety deposit box off-site.)
     
turtle777
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Jul 19, 2014, 05:37 PM
 
Oh, I see. 'NN issues due to dead hampstors now make complete sense

-t
     
akent35  (op)
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Jul 19, 2014, 06:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by EstaNightshift View Post
Totally not how I thought this thread was going to go.
You're not kidding! And, I am the one that started this thread. I sure was hoping for more meaningful discussions, and for a while, that was the case. But, it has definitely wandered off course!
     
turtle777
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Jul 19, 2014, 06:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
You're not kidding! And, I am the one that started this thread. I sure was hoping for more meaningful discussions, and for a while, that was the case. But, it has definitely wandered off course!
Oh do come on. What did you expect ?

You are pretty much set in what you consider your own perfect backup strategy.
It was clear from the get go that many will disagree that cloning is a viable backup strategy.

So, what did you hope to achieve or learn ?

-t
     
akent35  (op)
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Jul 19, 2014, 06:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Oh do come on. What did you expect ?

You are pretty much set in what you consider your own perfect backup strategy.
It was clear from the get go that many will disagree that cloning is a viable backup strategy.

So, what did you hope to achieve or learn ?

-t
I NEVER said my backup strategy is perfect (man, once again you demonstrate an inability to read!). I said it works for me.

I actually learned a few things from most of this, and I hope others did also (as long as they can read!).
     
turtle777
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Jul 19, 2014, 07:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
I NEVER said my backup strategy is perfect (man, once again you demonstrate an inability to read!). I said it works for me.
LOL, ability to read ?

I said "your own perfect backup strategy".
In English, this means it is perfect for YOU, not for everyone.

Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
I actually learned a few things from most of this, and I hope others did also (as long as they can read!).
Wow, what a change just 15 minutes can make. This is what you just posted.

Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
I sure was hoping for more meaningful discussions
So, which is it ?

-t
     
DesiSoftSystems
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Jul 19, 2014, 08:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
Super Duper does exactly that. As I mentioned in another forum, I recently needed to do a restore from my recent Super Duper backup on my Mac Mini. Worked like a charm, and everything was restored exactly as it was 2 days earlier, when I did the backup.
Glad to hear that. As I said I can't name names, but there are two products I know of, based on the criteria I mentioned, that do not copy everything. One is a free extra by a major hard drive manufacturer included with their drives, and one is a Johnny-Come-Lately synchronizing utility by a once-major software vendor that is struggling to find a renewed relevance.
     
I-ku-u
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Jul 20, 2014, 06:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
I stand corrected.

It will protect against all possible risks, except EPIC BAD KARMA that you are conjuring up.

Are you done being silly ?

-t
Yes, I'm done being silly.

There is actually a very likely event that your solution failed to address. So it does not in fact protect against all possible risks. But as you seem to not want to exercise your imagination, I'm not going to press the issue.
     
I-ku-u
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Jul 20, 2014, 06:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I assumed you're backing up to a ZFS-based NAS.

I was also a ZEVO user until I upgraded to Mavericks. You should know that ZEVO has been cancelled, because Greenbytes has been bought by Oracle. It's a pity that you need to switch away from ZFS. I felt much better when I could test the integrity of my files by doing a scrub …
Yes, I referred to that cancellation in passing.

In any case, I fully intend to continue using ZFS, it's just a question of "is this ZFS acceptable, or do I turn my Mac Pro into a server stuck on Mtn Lion?"
     
OreoCookie
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Jul 20, 2014, 12:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by I-ku-u View Post
Yes, I referred to that cancellation in passing.
I wasn't sure whether you were aware of it or just referred to the unavailability of ZEVO on Mavericks.
Originally Posted by I-ku-u View Post
In any case, I fully intend to continue using ZFS, it's just a question of "is this ZFS acceptable, or do I turn my Mac Pro into a server stuck on Mtn Lion?"
To be honest, I wouldn't want to rely on such a project. I'd rather look into getting a ZFS-based NAS.
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akent35  (op)
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Jul 20, 2014, 01:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
LOL, ability to read ?

I said "your own perfect backup strategy".
In English, this means it is perfect for YOU, not for everyone.
You put the emphasis on the wrong word. You said perfect. I never said my backup strategy was perfect. I did say it was fine for MY needs. How does that mean perfect?

Oh, I forgot, you can't read.

Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Wow, what a change just 15 minutes can make. This is what you just posted.

So, which is it ?

-t
From your post:

"Originally Posted by akent35 View Post
I sure was hoping for more meaningful discussions"

You so conveniently (or intentionally) left off the rest of that. Here is what I said:

"I sure was hoping for more meaningful discussions, and for a while, that was the case."

The bold part is what you forgot.

I guess you can't handle the truth!
( Last edited by akent35; Jul 20, 2014 at 01:56 PM. )
     
Spheric Harlot
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Jul 20, 2014, 02:25 PM
 
Well, if you make untrue claims and continue to stick by them despite all the "meaningful discussion", at some point, the most "meaningful" thing to do is to correct false assumptions.
     
akent35  (op)
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Jul 20, 2014, 03:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Well, if you make untrue claims and continue to stick by them despite all the "meaningful discussion", at some point, the most "meaningful" thing to do is to correct false assumptions.
Blah, blah, blah! I have not made any false assumptions. Yes, I did say that recovering non-corrupt data with Time Machine is not easy, but I have seen similar comments from others.

Also, I have never said that Super Duper cannot prevent backing up corrupt data. But, the same is true of Time Machine.

Finally, I have never said my strategy is perfect. Yet, folks like you, turtle, and others continue to stick false words in my mouth, and make false accusations. You need to get your stuff in order first, before you make false, inaccurate statements.

Once again I state the following:

1. My backup strategy works for me.

2. Other people choose to use Time Machine. Well and good, and apparently that works for them.

3. Some people choose the best of both worlds. That is, they use Time Machine and an additional tool like Super Duper or Carbon Copy Cloner (or something similar). Again, well and good, and it works for them.
( Last edited by akent35; Jul 20, 2014 at 03:51 PM. )
     
 
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