How to set up backup on a Mac

Backing up data is essential. Your hard-drive WILL FAIL!

This page is trying to collect some ticks and tricks for a sensible Backup Strategy. There are different ideas of how to do it.

Before you start

  • Get an external Firewire drive. Get just the LARGEST you can afford.
  • Get another one for home.
  • As you have now a drive so large that even you have no clue what to put on it, your mind will be free to use it for backup.

Backup and Archive User files

How to Backup user files

Fast start in the case of all cases

Just having a backup of your own files is not enough. You need a setup where you can switch to another machine and continue working in 2 minutes, not 2 days.

How to do a Bootable Backup

Who uses what?

Examples of backup setups


  • 500GB Firewire at SCG
    • Timemachine
    • backup of some large archived files
  • 160GB at home
    • Bootable clone (Carbon Copy Cloner), no archived old versions
  • TODO: offsite backup with S3


  • 1000GB Firewire at home and at SCG for rsync mirror and incremental backups
  • 160GB iPod for mirroring files between home and office
  • tsync wrapper script around rsync uses timestamp to avoid syncing the wrong way (!)
  • iPodSync command checks the timestamp to decide which direction to sync
  • BACKUP and UPDATE scripts specify what to sync
  • bu is a script that uses tar to make full and incremental backups, based on recommendations from the O’Reilly book
  • Mirror and incremental backup folders on desktop machine at SCG to enable remote rsync and backup from a laptop over the network (I used this from Australia successfully)
Last changed by admin on 21 April 2009