Make Archival Backups to DVD

By now, regular backups are a normal part of your routine: your backup software automatically updates your archives every day and your duplicates once a week, and you diligently rotate backup media offsiteright? Even so, I recommend adding one final element to your backup regimen: archival DVDs.

If you've followed my advice, you already have archives of all your important filesgoing back several months or moreon each of two or more hard drives. You also have one or more complete, bootable copies of your main hard disk as it existed at some recent time. This is all good, but some problems remain:

  • Hard drives don't last forever. Sooner or laterin a year, or five or ten yearsyou'll no longer be able to access the data on your drives.

  • Because archives constantly get bigger, the archive can eventually outgrow the drive you store it on.

  • As your main hard disk fills up, you may want to delete files periodically to save space and yet be able to retrieve those old files if you later need them.

I'm aware of several schools of thought regarding archival backups, so bear in mind that this is just one person's take on the process. In a nutshell, I recommend this: once a year, make a copy of all your backups (both archive and duplicate) onto a stack of DVDs, store them in a safe place, and then recycle the hard disk you use for archives by erasing it and starting over with a new, full backup. By doing this, you hedge your bets against hard drive failure, free up valuable space for archives, and give yourself a safety net in case you want to prune files on your primary hard disk.


I hasten to point out that DVDs don't last forever either, but if you store them carefully in a dark, cool, dry place, they should be readable for ten years. By the time you approach that point, if you still want to keep the data, you should migrate the contents of your discs onto new media.

To archive your data, obtain a big stack of recordable DVDs and follow these steps:


Make sure you have a backup application that can create duplicates and span data across multiple discs. (See Appendix B for suggestions.)


Attach the drive you use for archives (if it's not already attached).


Following the instructions included with your backup application, select your archive drive as the source and your DVD burner as the destination.


Begin the backup process, feeding in blank discs as needed.


When the backup completes, repeat Steps 3 and 4 with your primary hard disk as the source (or, if you prefer, use a recent duplicate as the source).


Store your newly burned DVDs in a dark, cool, dry place.

Better yet, if you can afford the time and the mediamake two complete copies of both archives and duplicates, and store them in different places.


Configure your backup software to replace the existing archive with a fresh, full backup on its next run. (In some cases, you may need to erase the drive manually first.) Again, consult the documentation that came with your backup software for details.

Now that you have a safe copy of all your data, you can consider deleting files to make extra space on your main hard drive, as I describe in the following section.

Real World Mac Maintenance and Backups. Industrial-Strength Techniques
Real World Mac Maintenance and Backups. Industrial-Strength Techniques
Year: 2004
Pages: 144 © 2008-2017.
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