Inspired to Backup

by Christopher Paul on April 11, 2007

Over the weekend, I managed to backup my entire music directory to my hosting provider, DreamHost.  I was inspired by Michael Lee’s aptly titled article on How to Backup Your Mac to a DreamHost Server and while I didn’t do all the technical coding work, I managed back up my music files nonetheless.  If you have a Mac, using rsync might be a good way for you to go – especially if you have a 479GB of on-line storage like I do with DreamHost.

It took all weekend to upload 40GB worth of songs so if you have a large collection like I do, this is not for the faint at heart or those with a slow connection.  I have a great high-speed connection and get 30Mbits down and 5Mbits up.  So at roughly 450kb/s, well, you do the math.  Like Michael’s article suggests, I used iCal to schedule my daily backups.  But unlike Mike (if I can call him that), I use my FTP program and created Automator work flows to handle the file transfers.  I created a work flow application that iCal runs every night at 2:30am that checks for the latest version of the files in my music directory and if it finds any changes, it writes over the older version – wherever it may be.

Eventually, I’ll have separate jobs to take care of my other data but I’ll have those jobs run every other night since syncing the music can take up to 20 minutes or so.  I’ve got my photos on a dedicated photo site that I host so that takes care of my pictures.  Though, I might automatically upload new photos to the import directory of the Gallery2 site to make things easy but that’s not necessary.  I’ll also set something similar up for my wife who has no backup of her data.  In fact, neither of us had anything before this.

I thought I’d build a file server like I did when I was the CTO of the small company I used to work for.  And while I would still love to do that, its not very cost effective.  Plus, it would be noisy and big – it wouldn’t go with the new Mac based office I’ve created since I picked up the Mini.  Hiding the server (it would have to be a rack mounted array… it has to be) would be tough since we don’t have a lot of closet space in our condo.  And it would still generate a lot of heat and use a lot of electricity we don’t want to waste.

But back to the automation I did…

I was inspired to try the automated backup program that Michael Lee wrote about.  And now, finally, I feel that I can sleep at night knowing that my files are safer.  I’m also inspired to see what else I can do with Automator, iCal, and rsync.  Anyone have a good work flow they care to share?

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