Why Mac Users Should Do Backups: The EHDcubed Approach

Avid YMUGers will remember my tale of woe when my iMac began running slowly and then wouldn’t open at all. What was worse the external drive on my Time Machine backup also froze, so I had no way to access the material on the Mac. Eventually I had to carry the 27” Mac into the Apple store, no mean feat in itself. The Genius Bar techie managed to run the Mac on a virtual operating system and copy most, but not all, of my files to another external drive. They loaded a fresh operating system onto the Mac but could do nothing with the external drive.

It took a week to download my apps and programmes individually and then load the data onto the Mac from the partial copy Apple had made. But once again the rainbow wheel began to pop up and once again I was eventually left with a Mac that wouldn’t open.

But here is the lesson I learned from what had happened before. In three words – create multiple backups. As I re-loaded material onto the Mac I backed it up to an external hard drive (EHD) via Time Machine
AND (following Tony’s advice) ran Carbon Copy Cloner on another external hard drive
joined Amazon Prime and uploaded all my photos (they give you unlimited space)
made sure that all my key documents were on the iCloud drive.

So this time when the iMac froze and I took it back to Apple for a second time I knew that I wouldn’t have manually to download all my files again. As it happened the problem turned out to be a hardware issue (although that didn’t explain why my external drive also froze – but, heigh ho, I’m not young enough to know the answer to every question) and replacing the iMac’s hard drive inevitably took some time. But as all my key files were accessible via the iCloud drive I could carry on working using my MacBook. Moreover, once I had the iMac back I could just run Time Machine from my new external drive and so within a few hours everything was set up and ready to run.

My new strategy is to use 3 external hard drives and:
Keep Time Machine running all the time (EHD 1)
Use CCC on a weekly basis (EHD 2)
On the first of the month manually backup via Finder all my Documents, Pictures, Music and data sets to an external hard drive (EHD 3)
Keep my photos backed up to Amazon Prime on a daily basis.

This might seem excessive, but wait until you cannot even open your Mac and you’ll think otherwise. A friend of mine once had pinned to his study door a sign reading, ‘Only Wimps Backup’. Given what I’ve gone through over the last two months I’m proud to be called a wimp.

Peter Gilroy.