Backups - am I crazy?

Now don’t get me wrong. Backups are really important to me. At the moment I have a local time machine backup and Backblaze.

Twice backups have saved my bacon (and my photos) but I’m building a Plex library and it’s getting pretty massive.

I have approx 5TB of data that I back up, but I’m looking to expand further and when looking at 12TB drives to take the next step up for a new Time machine drive and relegate the old 8TB Time Machine drive to archive, I’m looking at more than £200

So I started to think about the Time Machine backup. Apart from restoring the odd file from time to time, I’ve never done a complete restore from a Time Machine backup for one very simple reason. On the two occasions that my data drives have died, I couldn’t get to the backups of them on Time Machine as I couldn’t visualise it within Time Machine (the application) to be able to restore the data.

In both of the cases my data drives died, I had to restore from Backblaze (500GB and 2TB restores at the time) but I got all of my data back (I :heart: Backblaze).

Based on that I wondered about how useful Time Machine actually is to me.

Then I remembered that Backblaze now offer an option to extend retention of old versions from 30 days to 1 year for a couple of quid a months, i.e. about £25 extra a year. 8 years equates to the cost of a new super sized time machine drive.

So I’m probably going to ditch the time machine drive for everything and go all in on Backblaze. If anyone has recommendations for consumer type set it and forget backup services which are reasonably priced, I may take a second online backup service on also.

I’ll probably pick up a smaller local drive and backup Photos and some other crucial data locally using CCC or something similar, but does this make sense. Can anyone talk some sense into me?

Who knows? Watch me lose a drive now in the next month.

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I no longer use Plex but when I did my library consisted mainly of movies & tv shows that I had ripped from physical media (DVDs, etc). I have data caps and uploading my library would have taken months to upload or download. So because I still had the original media I chose to only backup these items to local storage.

Time Machine has let me down multiple times over the years so I never rely on it as my only local backup. I prefer Chronosync.

I prefer Arqbackup and Backblaze B2, but regular Backblaze would be less expensive for the amount of data you plan to backup. Purchasing the extended retention option is a good investment, IMO. On a couple of occasions I’ve had to go back several years to recover a file.

But whatever backup methods and services you choose don’t set it and forget it. Backups fail, don’t trust them. I recommend restoring a couple of files from time to time to verify that you can get your data back should you ever suffer a loss (again).

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That’s pretty much what I do as well - Backblaze with 1 year retention.

I’m also looking at Arq for super-critical stuff though, just as a second layer of protection.

Fair point and poor choice of wording by me. I agree. But I don’t want be doing anything that takes custom configuration, scripting or using a 3rd party app to backup to a “bucket”

Once upon a time, many years ago I was working for a company where they gave one of the ‘developers’ (note the scare quotes) the job of writing a backup program for our client’s payroll data. And he raved about how fast it ran.

It ran fast because it didn’t actually backup anything. And no one had ever tested for that.

It was an epic excrement hits the cooling device moment when that backup data was needed …


Testing your backup can be as simple signing into Backblaze, going to the ‘View/Restore Files’ page, selecting a couple of files, then clicking restore. Once they are downloaded, open them to verify they are good. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes.

Many years ago I crashed a company server then discovered that my backups had been failing for the past 3 days. On Monday morning I had to tell everyone that three days of work had been lost. That’s how I learned to verify backups.

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I wasn’t talking about restoring backups there, more setting up the backup solution I want something all in one.

I’m a former sys admin, so believe you/me, I test my backups :wink:

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I got advice back in the '80’s to always verify backups. So every time I was at a new job or had a different IT department I would “lose” a file and ask for them to restore it. Luckily they were always able to do so, but I have encountered three times when backups were not being performed.

  1. I had a tape backup unit for my personal computer (this was before there was a central IT backup service) that appeared to be working however it never actually wrote anything to tape! This was late 1980’s.

  2. A server computer for a project I was on was never backed up. It was supposed to be backed up by IT but they apparently didn’t know this computer existed. Luckily it never failed. This was mid 1990’s.

  3. A company server farm had a failure of their storage array. Everyone relied on it and basically had no local files for projects. It took two weeks to restore, during which time we could do no work. The IT department, which had recently been outsourced, never tested the ability to do restores of their servers. Of course doing so would have increased costs.

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We once had a tape drive with a misaligned head, so it worked fine in the same drive for a restore, but once we went to the DR site to test it and tried to restore there. The drive there wouldn’t read it though.

Good job we tested.

The kids of today with their instant “undeletes” on Sharepoint. They’ll never know the pain of waiting until last night’s backup has finished so you can restore from a different tape.


I came across the opposite. Asked a Backup & Recovery (BUR) engineer to restore a database from a particular day. He came back to me and said the daily backup for that day didn’t exist. Why not? Because the previous day’s backup had still been running when it was due to start. Errr, OK, what happened? Oh, it happens often — the average daily backup takes 27 hours.

I ended up getting it restored from the previous day, but I could not convince him that a 27 hour daily backup was cause for concern!

Different place to above… I asked for one file to be restored about 6 months after I knew it existed. 6 weeks later they had rebuilt one of the old backup servers only to discover that none of the tapes had on them what the backup system said. Just as well it wasn’t that important!

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I backup to Time Machine locally and online with Backblaze. I do periodically restore stuff from Time Machine that has gotten accidentally deleted for whatever reason, and done a full restore a couple of times for migration between Macs or to recover from a hiccup during Software Update. (I’ve now learnt to make sure I’ve done a recent backup and tested my system disk before major macOS updates.)

I’ve been doing local backups now for over two decades, and those have protected my data across three PCs and now two iMacs. I got burnt hard back in the early 2000s, lost several years of data plus emails (this was before IMAP became an option in many email clients and services.) The local hard disk is my primary recourse in the event of something going wrong — the online backup at Backblaze is my fall-back in case of catastrophic failure.

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