Secure Your Mac Data and Why I Stopped Using Time Machine

I’ve been using Mac OSX for years now, and I’ve been pretty happy with using Time Machine for backups because in general, it’s been really easy. That is, until you want to put your Time Machine disk into a cupboard somewhere and access it over the network. This assumes you’re not using a Time Capsule (because Time Machine and Time Capsule are designed to work together).

I’m an IT kinda guy. I’m not paying the ridiculous amount of money that Apple want for a Time Capsule – sorry. I love my MacBook Pro, it works it’s fantastic build quality and of course OSX is, in my humble opinion, the best operating system available for computers. It’s more polished than Linux and has software available that Linux doesn’t seem to. But I’m still not paying the silly price for other Apple hardware that I really don’t need.

So, I have a Home Theatre PC running XBMC which is switched on all the time, recording TV shows at various times of the day. Given that it’s on all the time, it seemed like a logical place to put a couple of backup disks, one for my wife’s iMac and MacBook Pro and one for my MacBook Pro. So, I installed a couple of Vantec NexStar USB/eSATA drive caddies (so that I can easily switch disks if they fail, or I want to swap for other reasons) which I bought for $25 on eBay. I also installed a SATA to eSATA port in the back so that I could run eSATA instead of USB2.0 and take some of the pressure off the machine during backups.

And then I tried to get TimeMachine to talk to it all. With no luck. I’m not going to go into the details of Netatalk and Avahi to try to get Time Machine to talk to my MythBuntu based Media Server. But it stopped working with Mavericks so I’ve dumped it and gone with Samba instead since apparently Mavericks now prefers SMB2 for network traffic. Except for Time Machine of course, which still requires AFP.

Bye bye Time Machine. If Apple can’t be bothered to adjust it to work with SMB2 which everything else in the entire WORLD uses, then I can’t spend any more time on it.

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So, I’ve switched exclusively to use CrashPlan. Our family already used Crashplan (from Code42) for online / cloud backups because their service is very reasonably priced and has already saved our bacon a couple of times when we’ve deleted things by mistake – and it works well. Now we’re using CrashPlan to backup across the internal network onto the external drives as well as to the cloud.

Why use both a local backup and a Cloud Backup?

The biggest reason for using both is that backing up and restoring to/from the cloud is slow. At least here in Australia where ‘Fraudband’ is highly priced and bitterly slow. So it can take WEEKS or MONTHS to backup to the cloud, leaving you with no backup to restore from if something breaks in the meantime. A local backup is much much quicker and can often complete across your internal network within hours.

But cloud backup has one massive advantage that local does not. If a local disaster strikes – such as fire or burglary – your local disks could be lost. Leaving you again with no backup. But a backup in the cloud will still be there even if your house is no longer. A truly catastrophic local event which wipes out your computing environment will not affect the cloud backup.

So, the two systems have the same outcome, your data is stored somewhere away from your computer. But provide peace of mind for different events and I’d highly recommend that both are considered.

CrashPlan makes this easy, because it supports backing up locally to networked drives as well as supporting backing up to the cloud – and the backup space available online is unlimited for home users and is extremely well priced.

Additional Information:

More details about CrashPlan can be found directly from the CrashPlan website at http://www.code42.com/crashplan/ including how to use CrashPlan and a free 30 day trial of the cloud backup is available too. We’ve been using CrashPlan as a family (backing up our 3 Macs and the Linux Home Theatre PC for around 3 years now, and it’s never let us down.

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