Making the Most of Your Backups

Having a backup of your data is crucial. Being able to successfully restore your data is even more crucial.

For the last three weeks, I have been spending two hours a week on organizing/reorganizing all my data. One of my goals for 2012 is to be 100% sure I am backing up what I need and ONLY what I need. I have two backup drives here in my office that I use with Apple’s Time Machine. I also then backup remotely once a week to Amazon S3 using JungleDisk. I also have data on a remote server for all my web sites (including this one) that gets backed up on/off site. A few weeks ago I decided to centralize all my remote data on Amazon S3. All media/uploads/theme files/etc get served up from Amazon S3 which not only helps with my centralization of data – but it also speeds things up a bit too.

Now that I have everything flowing into one place – I realized I am backing up a lot of stuff. Stuff that does not need to be backed up and will only cause frustration and increased storage cost. So – when thinking (or re-thinking) about backups, make sure you also consider what you are backing up. I found I was backing up backup archives, photos I would never use/look at, etc that were completely a waste of space. By going through all of my content I was able to save significantly in space/cost in my backup solution.

So – if you have a backup plan – make sure you know how to restore from it (and actually test it). If you do not have a backup plan – take a few minutes to look into doing something ASAP. You will lose data at some time – that is a guarantee. You can either take a few minutes now and get something in place or you can spend hours/potentially thousands to restore “that data you really need”. Your choice. This has been your annual reminder.

Clean Up that Photo Library!

In the past few days I have found it really hard to focus on work because my mind keeps drifting back to Triscuit. Because of this I have tried to do some things that I have been meaning to do but have not had time/want to do them. One of them: take a break and walk every single day. The other so far: clean out that nasty iPhoto Library. Gone are the blurred, duplicates, and photos I really do not care about. I feel so much better about my photos now. Not only did I decrease the size of my library, I made it easier to backup/restore, and have made it much more manageable. If you are like me and are overwhelmed with something like this – do it in steps. Go through a few to a few hundred pictures at a time. Scared? Make a backup first. Trust me, you will feel so much better!

Apple Saves the Day

Apple saves the day for me:

Hello Jennifer, I’m sorry to hear the titles you purchased from the iTunes Store with account “[email protected]” were lost. I can certainly see how this would be upsetting and I would like to help. iTunes Store Customer Support has decided to let you download (at no charge) all the titles you purchased on this account that are still available.

Thank you Apple!

Backup to Amazon S3 With Rsync.

Finally – I stumbled upon an article that outlines how to use rsync, Mac OS X, Jungle Disk, and Amazon S3 (all which I use). This will simplify and speed up my backup process. (Especially when my external backup drive has been acting a little irregular this morning.) If you do not backup your files, or have not looked at Amazon S3 yet – this is your chance!

Jappler Recommends: CPsafe.

Start the year of right – set up a backup system! A few years ago, I documented how to backup your web sites, databases, email, etc when your host uses CPanel to a remote FTP server. Since then, there have been several CPanel updates and Perl updates that the script no longer works so I have been looking for another option and finally found it. The new script is called: CPsafe (if that does not work, check out the cached version. Within 5 minutes, you can have your home directory backup set up and ready to run. I think the hardest part of this process was figuring out where to turn on FTP access in my Mac OS X 10.5 new install. (System Prefs > Sharing > File Sharing > Options > FTP)

mini stack.

To address my increasing backup needs as well as my need for more FireWire and USB ports, I decided to buy a miniStack (500GB). I own a Mac Mini and so the miniStack seemed like the perfect solution. Now comes my friendly reminder to all those reading that do not back up…back it up! On another note, I also recently started using SVN for all my business projects (thanks Demitrious) which is backed up offsite. Back up!
[tags]mini stack, SVN, backup[/tags]

automate cpanel backup.

For months I have been manually backing up my web sites. Last night, I learned my lesson and realized I needed to have something more dependable in place. (and I am pretty damn dependable). I finally took the time to research the process of automating a CPanel update.
The script I found and used is freely available and easy to use.

How to completely automate your CPanel backup and store the files remotely:

There are three main parts to this process:

  • The backup script.
    • Download the script.
    • Edit the script’s configuration variables as needed (see instructions on the download script page (see above).
    • Set up a cron job via CPanel (cron jobs is one of the main icons in the list) so your script will run every x minutes/hours/days/weeks/months.
  • The files you want backed up on your host. The script will have CPanel perform a full backup of all your files and databases. (The same if you were to choose “full backup” within the Backup module of CPanel.)
  • The location where your files go when they are automatically backed up.
    • Define the server/computer you want your files to get backed up to. If you are like me and do not have a static IP address for the computer you want all your backups to go to (my home computer), you will need to set up Dynamic DNS. (See my HOWTO access your home computers from anywhere post.)
    • Set up FTP access to your server/computer (in my case my home computer) so the script can grab the backup and transfer it to your server/computer.

That is all you will need to do. You will be emailed every time this process runs so you will always know when your last backup was/if it was successful. Depending on how many active changes you are making to your web site, you will want to adjust the frequency of the backup. For a web site like this, I will back it up every 7 days. Why five? When thinking about backup strategies, I always think: how many days of work can I afford to lose? Figuring I have a new post every weekday, I can live with a week’s work lost. If I do a code change, a WP update, or a massive posting that I do not want to lose, I will do a manual backup to supplement my backups.

Another recommendation…always keep the latest copy of the backup on the server (your web host) as well as on your home server/computer. This way, you are ok if something were to happen to your home machine or your web host. (I like to have archived copies always available)
[tags]CPanel, backup[/tags]