My job involves dealing with a lot of videos when developing Pluralsight courses and recording YouTube videos and it was getting to the point where I had a lot of footage and course material stored on a laptop and external HD. I have been thinking a lot about backups and have put in place some pretty nifty processes to make sure I am covered. Let’s go through them.

File Synching with Dropbox and iCloud

First of all, I use Dropbox and iCloud to synchronize all my files between all my machines. Technically this doesn’t count as a backup system, but it is good to know that all my work is synced between machines, and a feature I particularly like with Dropbox is the version history which has helped me a few times when I accidentally deleted some files. I could just log back into Dropbox and restore the file.

Offsite Backups

The first proper backup process I run, after file synching, is using an offsite backup system. My chosen system of choice is BackBlaze. This has an agent that runs on your laptop and backups up your selected files to their servers. I run this across to Mac laptops that are constantly uploading any changes to Backblaze. The initial backup from both laptops took a couple of days due to the amount of data, but you have access to throttling controls in Blackblaze so that it doesn’t hog all of your internet bandwidth.

BackBlaze : Cloud Based Backup System
Backblaze : Cloud-Based Backup System

Onsite Raid Backups

Whilst BackBlaze is purely offline storage that is not designed to be accessed constantly to access your files, I also wanted something a bit more robust at home. I had been creating backups onto an external hard disc, but that is a single point of failure, especially as I was also storing old files on this device that are not included in my Backblaze backup. What I wanted to do was get a device that has a level of redundancy should an onsite disc fails. After doing some research, the system I settled on was the Drobo 5C. The Drobo is a drive enclosure that can take up to 5 x hard drives. I filled mine with 5 x 4tb Weston Digital Red Drives. This gives a total capacity of 20tb, but I have a mode called dual disk redundancy setup, so this reduces the storage to around 10tb.

Drobo 5C : Beyond RAID Hard Disk Enclosure
Drobo 5C : Beyond RAID Hard Disk Enclosure

The front of the unit is covered with a plastic plate that is held on with magnets to make it easy to remove. This exposes the drive bays. The drives are easy to remove or add, so if you only started with a couple of drives you can upgrade the capacity by adding more drives. You just plug them straight in, no need to power down the device. If you do add additional storage, then the system will automatically balance the data across the drives. If there is a problem with a drive, then the lights to the right of the drive will start blinking. If it goes red, then you need to pull the drive out and replace it.

Drobo 5C : With the Magnetic Faceplate Removed
Drobo 5C : With the Magnetic Faceplate Removed

Overall the system was very easy to set up. This particular model plugs into the USB-C port of my main computer. This means the drive access is nice and fast so I can use it as a work drive. I opted for this over a network drive as I only ever intend to have it plugged into my main computer.

Now I have this in place, I am happy that I have a suitable backup process in place should I suffer a complete failure of one of my machines. I can sue the Drobo for immediate onsite backup. If that isn’t possible, then I have Backblaze to fall back on, but if I have to set up a new machine, I can use Dropbox and iCloud to restore my immediate working files.

But most importantly I have a little black box with lots of blinking flashing lights on, and that’s the most important thing…..

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