My Data Backup Strategy

One side effect of producing regular video content is accumulating years of digital artifacts that need to be backed up securely. Online backup is fine for home use, but for me it's not very practical. I have over 4TB of data to backup, not exactly what the online backup companies are built for.

It's easy to put off the backup process, especially when you've never lost a hard drive. Backing up will never seem like something you want to do until right after it's too late. So I've learned to accept that backing up will always seem like an interruption to my productivity, but to do it anyway.

My strategy has several components.

Dropbox

Everything that's not related to audio or video production gets stored in Dropbox. I have the Pro plan with 100GB of space, and I pay extra for the unlimited file versioning option. This has saved me several times.

Every project I do has a dedicated folder in Dropbox, and anything that I produce for that project goes in the folder, unless it's a Logic project, or video related. Dropbox is made for syncing, but with the unlimited file versioning option it becomes a backup service for small and medium sized files.

Lacie Thunderbolt Raid

Any work that's too big for Dropbox is done on a LaCie 2big Thunderbolt RAID drive. However I have this drive configured for speed, not redundancy. It is, for all intents and purposes, no more reliable than a single hard drive. But it is blazingly fast. All my video and audio work is done on this drive.

Every project has its own folder, and everything related to the project that isn't stored in Dropbox is stored in this folder until the project is done.  I use Final Cut Pro X for my video work, so all events and projects are managed automatically through the software.

But......the LaCie is not a backup. It is not redundant. It is as vulnerable as a single drive. A file that lives only on this drive is as good as lost in my opinion.

Drobo 5D

I back up the LaCie to a Drobo 5D, currently configured with 8TB of storage. The Drobo is setup for single drive redundancy. When I upgrade the drives, I'll reconfigure it for double redundancy. I have an earlier Firewire 800 Drobo, but once you get used to Thunderbolt speeds, enduring a large file transfer over FW 800 is torturous. Having a fast connection between them lowers my mental resistance to the task of backing up.

But this is not where the backup strategy ends. If my office was hit by lightning, both the Drobo and LaCie drives could be destroyed. This is where offsite backup comes into play.

Offsite Backup

Over the past 5 years I've used and replaced many 1TB and 2TB drives. When a drive is replaced, I convert it to an offsite backup drive. I use a Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt Drive Dock to connect them to my system, then I backup my Drobo 5D to several of these drives.

This process happens monthly or bi-monthly at a minumum. These drives live at my house in a fireproof safe. If my office burns down, I will always have the majority of my data saved on those drives and will lose only the audio and video I've done since my last offsite backup.

So that's my backup strategy at this moment.

  1. Dropbox for everything small enough.
  2. Backup my working drive to a Drobo 5D weekly.
  3. Backup my Drobo 5D to offsite drives monthly.