Rethinking my offsite backup strategy

A little background first. I had been using a CrashPlan Family plan for offsite until this past winter. I had purchased a long term subscription some months before they did away with the family plan so probably one of the last users of it. We sold our house last August and have been full timing in our motorhome since then. Have not been using an offsite service except iCloud (not a backup, I know) due to limited bandwidth, either cellular or slow RV park wifi. Previous house also had limited internet available (25/5) but not an issue as we were only baking up changes. Closing on a house next week and will have gigabit internet.

Currently have 2 Macbook Airs and 2 iMacs. In addition we have an older Mac Mini that serves as a media server and Time Machine destination using a JBOD enclosure. Want to go with BackBlaze as my offsite provider. Don’t really want to spend the $ on multiple computers. Hence my new idea.

Currently backup all devices to local USB drives via both CCC and Time Machine. In addition Time Machine backups are made to the Mac Mini. These backups will continue. The CCC backups are made to external SSDs and I consider these to be my primary backup as it provides the fastest and easiest recovery.

For offsite, what I’m thinking about doing is to use CCC to back each machine to its own partition on the Mac Mini. Then use a single BackBlaze subscription to backup the Mac Mini. This would include all the media and the CCC images. I would not include the Time Machine partitions in the BackBlaze backup.

Only issue with this is no current offsite backup when we’re traveling (usually 2-3 months at a time) but I think I can live with this gap since I will have the other backups current.

Thoughts? Comments? Anybody see any other problems?

Pretty much what I do - backup all machines to external drives attached to one machine and then that is backed up to backblaze

I used Backblaze when I spent much of 2017-19 on the road - I first copied my iMac HDs to an external drive then plugged it into my laptop intermittently. I used the same drive for iOS device backups. It took ages to finish the initial upload (I wasn’t in a hurry as I had also left behind a couple clones of the iMac HDs). I never needed to download anything from Backblaze but I tested now & then, & it seemed to work great.

The advantage of this is that my laptop also got the regular offsite backup.

Do you have a relative or friend that could hold packages for you until you return?

My first thought was to make a copy of your data from time to time to something like a Sandisk iXpand drive and mail it home. Back in the dim, dark, pre-digital days that method worked for film I couldn’t afford to lose or be damaged by airport screening machines.

Since you are about to buy a house and will have gigabit Ethernet, I am going to assume that you can/will place the Mac mini permanently at the house.

I think using the mini as a “backup station” is a great idea, with BackBlaze running on the mini to create your cloud backups. I do something similar, although in my case it’s my iMacPro that is the “backup station” and my Synology is cloned to an external drive on the iMac and then BackBlaze’d to the cloud.

While you are on the road, you would still benefit from cloud backup of the MBAs which I assume will travel with you. Perhaps also the iMacs if they are also joining you in the RV.

There are a few ways you can easily accomplish this, just by having the MBAs continue to backup to the mini while you are on the road. While you may not have great connectivity on the road, if all that is being backed up are the daily incremental changes, it would still likely work for you.

Two relatively easy ways to accomplish this would be via ChronoSync and Arq.

ChronoSync is a sync and clone utility, similar to Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper!, but with more and varied options. You can also get a small utility (I forget what it is called) that you can run on the mini that makes it a remote, internet accessible endpoint for ChronoSync, and so you can connect from the MBA to your at-home mini without having to hassle with creating a VPN or remote mounting your mini’s drives. Takes a lot of the hassle out of the process. Thus, you do a daily sync from the MBA to the mini.

Arq is a backup utility that (IMHO) is extremely good. I have used it for years. Arq has the ability to use a variety of locations/services as endpoints for backups, including BackBlaze B2, any S3 compatible service, etc. One such endpoint can be an sftp server. So, you enable remote access on the mini (which would let you ssh to the mini; sftp is just ftp over a ssh connection, so now you get sftp as well). Arq uses the mini as a sftp endpoint and runs backups to the home mini on the schedule you set (hourly, daily, etc) and again the mini backs up to BackBlaze.

The advantage to Arq is that it is easier to set up backups on an hourly basis, for example, BUT Arq’s backups are encrypted and stored in a manner where you can only retrieve them via a restore from Arq. So, if you needed to retrieve a single file from BackBlaze, you would actually have to download the ENTIRE backup set to somewhere (say an external drive) and then use Arq to get the file. It’s fine if your entire computer dies and you have to restore to a new system, but less convenient if you just need to restore a single file.

ChronoSync will store your data on the mini just as it appears on the MBA, just as you are doing now with CCC. No encryption, so if someone steals the drive it’s on they have your data (unless, of course, you FileVault the drive…) but now the data in BB is a copy of the data on the mini which means you can easily grab just a single file from BB for restoration.

Hope this proves useful for you. If you have any questions about how to do this, I can try to help.