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Ask Max: What is the most idea backup setup?

Asked on 10/06/2009:

Hi Jacob, I really enjoy your answers and learn a lot from you in each email. Here is my question:

I just bought an 8-Core MacPro and want to setup a nice little storage system that can work fast and be backed up. So I was thinking about keeping the stock 640gig HD for all my apps, photos and music, and using an external HD that I already have to back that up via TimeMachine.

Then I wanted to buy a 1TB HD that I could dedicate to all my side-work (graphic design, web design and motion design). I then was thinking about buying another 1TB HD to back that up that one via TimeMachine. But now I'm wondering if it would be better to just use Apple's RAID-software-setup to have the 1TB's just mirror each other.

What would be the most ideal as far as speed, reliability and efficiency?


Time Machine is great but it does have its limits. You can only backup your boot drive via Time Machine so setting that external drive to protect your main 640 GB boot drive is the right setup. Then using the Apple software RAID 1 (Mirroring) on those two 1TB drives is a smart choice. It is not as fast as having a hardware RAID 5 configuration but it is very reliable. Many of the small servers I setup have been protected by a software RAID 1. I have lost drives but never any data.

The one advantage Time Machine has over RAID 1 is that it will protect you from unintentionally deleting important files, allowing you to go back and retrieve those files. RAID 1 will not let you recover from that kind of mistake. It just protects you from drive failure. So be carful when deleting or overwriting data on the RAID 1 volume.

Other than that it sounds like a solid plan.

- Jacob

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