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You, Me, And Data Backup

One day I innocently started my computer and got a gray screen. No icons, nothing but gray. In the end it turned out my hard drive had completely fried (not sure why). 

Do you have a back-up plan for your data? Here’s how I back up my stuff three ways:

I have Super Duper clone my entire hard-drive to a bootable copy on an external hard-drive.

The cloning automatically runs once a day (you can schedule it as often as you like). The keys here are “automatic” and “bootable”. So in this case I was able to connect the external hard drive to another computer, boot from it, and be working in almost no time flat with an exact duplicate of my computer from less than 24 hours ago. Super Duper

Time Machine. Duh.

If you’re on a Mac and NOT using Time Machine, it’s time to start. Buy a separate external hard-drive for this, set it up, and Time Machine will keep versions of your files every hour. In this case I was able to grab files that were modified since my last Super Duper clone. Note that Time Machine does NOT create a bootable copy of your drive. The hard drive you use should be at least 1.5x the size of your computer’s hard drive.

Dropbox: continuous backup.

I also pay for a Dropbox plan for client-collaborator usage and have the space to backup a lot of project files there using something called Symbolic Links. Dropbox runs anytime a file/folder that it is “watching” gets modified, so backup is essentially continuous. When I re-connected my cloned Super Duper copy to Dropbox it downloaded a bunch of files that had been updated since then and labeled them “conflicted copy”. So as needed I could make the call on which file to keep.

Having this plan in place made the day my hard drive died merely inconvenient. I suggest you put your own plan into place as soon as possible. As “they” say: hard drive failure is not a question of “if” but “when”. A modest financial and time investment now can give you great peace-of-mind and save your bacon when your number is called. Don’t wait.


My hard drive was under warranty and I’m already working on a free replacement. While it was kind of nerdy fun to swap out the drives in my laptop a couple of times, I’m hoping this one lasts for the life of the computer. If it doesn’t at least I know my data is backed up three ways.

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