time capsule or airport base station + HDD?

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
I'm currently using a simple USB HDD for backups, connecting my macbook manually once a week which seems enough. But I would like to watch my movies&TV shows on my macbook downstairs, so I need something that'll let me wirelessly access a USB drive. I think that means either a time capsule with external HDD for movies or AEBS with external HDD

I already have a couple of 750GB USB HDDs which I'd like to use for backups so I can have one offsite. thats one thing I'm not sure about with time capsule. It'll backup my computer but if someone nicks it and the time capsule I'm still stuffed.

what would you recommend? AEBS with a couple of HDDs attached to it via a hub - one for movies and one for time machine, or a time capsule and an external HDD attached to it for movies?
 

Tenex

Distinguished Member
but if someone nicks it and the time capsule I'm still stuffed.

If someone nicks them then it won't matter if its an AEBS or TC. Why not hide the TC/AEBS anyway? It doesn't have to be near your MacBook.

If money no object then TC and additional USB HDDs hanging off the back or better a Drobo...
 

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
the point is that with my current setup - USB HDD directly connected - I have two USB HDDs. one is attached for a week, then I take it into my office and lock it away, and bring the second one back from the office and plug it in. So I always have an off-site backup.

thats what TC wouldn't give me, which is why AEBS + USB HDD is tempting if they now allow you to use time machine on that setup.

can you use an external HDD on time capsule for backups too, or only the internal drive?
 

Tenex

Distinguished Member
You can use a drive attached to the USB port of the TC as the TM backup target but if you swap it out weekly I suspect it will recreate a completely new backup each time you replace the drive? That would be the case whether it was pointing to an external drive on the AEBS or TC.
 

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
what seems to happen on my USB drive is that it'll do an incremental backup based on the most recent backup it has.

so eg backup1 has hourly (or whatever) backups until april 1, then I swap it out and put in backup2. a week later when I put backup1 back in, it'll do a big backup, then back to hourly. So there is a 'gap' in time machine but thats covered by the other drive if necessary.

are you saying that doesn't work the same way over the network?
 

Tenex

Distinguished Member
No I'm not saying that. I said I expected it to restart but if you've proved that doesn't happen then all well and good.
 

James.1

Active Member
Even though using Time Machine over an Airport Extreme does work, it is an unsupported feature and may be broken by the next round of updates.

See here
 

Tenex

Distinguished Member
There was an interesting article on this on MacWorld a few weeks back - the evidence is strong that in an update Apple forgot to turn off the functionality before shipping. They now have to raise the spectre of future incompatibility or TC sales will suffer.
 

py6km

Well-known Member
I have a TC and can recommend it. I did dabble with an AEBS and USB HDD before the updates came out and it didn;t work properly. I think it does now, but as someone's said, is not supported and possibly flaky.

You can plug a USB HDD into the TC and use that for backup as well I think.
 

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
so, if I use a time capsule, I could use my two USB HDD method for backups, still allowing me to store one offsite? Then use the fixed HDD internally for media? That'd also let me buy the cheaper one which would be more than enough for my videos/music.


Was thinking of a NAS anyway which would be about £200
 

Tenex

Distinguished Member
It would be worth you listening to the latest edition of the AppleMacPunk podcast as they relate the (un)usefulness of TM extensively.
 

py6km

Well-known Member
so, if I use a time capsule, I could use my two USB HDD method for backups, still allowing me to store one offsite? Then use the fixed HDD internally for media? That'd also let me buy the cheaper one which would be more than enough for my videos/music.


Was thinking of a NAS anyway which would be about £200

My TC (the 500GB one) only has one USB port on the back (but does have more ethernet ports than I'd use), so you'd likely need a USB hub to use more than one USB HDD.

I've yet to plug a USB HDD into my TC so I can't confirm for definite based on my experience, but I did think that this was the point of the port on the TC (to allow you to augment the TC storage if needed), so you should be ok. Might be worth doing a bit of digging around though, as I'd hate for you to shell out and find it wasn't suitable.
 

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
I'll try and check out the podcast, but there are people that bemoan the idea of TC. for me, its actually got me thikning about backing up which is a plus.

I'd only need one USB, as the 'other' USB HDD would be at work, so only one connected at any one time.

being wireless, i'm a little wary of 30 minute backups using up my battery and bandwidth. Wondering whether its enough to have a weekly backup/clone to a directly connected USB HDD?

but then I'd still need a nas for streaming of my movies. so maybe grab a TC as a NAS and then at least I have the option. Mac compatible NASes seem to be around the £200 mark anyway.
 

James.1

Active Member
I only ever backup to a directly connected external HDD. I tried for a while backing up over the network, not to a Time Capsule or AEBS but to another Mac (it worked great BTW) but I hated not having a bootable backup. Whatever route you decide to take regarding network backup, I highly recommend you plug in an external HDD at least once a week to do a clone backup as if the worst should happen, you don't need to reinstall the OS nor all your Apps and configurations.
 

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
It would be worth you listening to the latest edition of the AppleMacPunk podcast as they relate the (un)usefulness of TM extensively.

that was very interesting. But I kind of assumed I wouldn't use time machine to restore an entire system, mostly just my important documents/photos.
 

stuart07970

Well-known Member
If you're smart enough to take a drive off site for security,

then I think you may be best suited to a clone backup such as SuperDuper!

Which as one of the previous posters said, its great to have a bootable clone drive.

If your drive dies, you just plug in and boot from your clone !:smashin:

(I also recommend TC)
 

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
ok, so superduper for cloned backups to USB HDD, cycled offsite. (weekly backups probably ok for this as its a macbook and therefore not tethered that often?)

Can superduper also clone/backup from an external drive? eg I have my macbook and also a 500GB External drive which may be attached to a TC in the near future for network access. my external backup drives are 750GB. If I partition them 500/250, then can superduper backup my mac to the 250GB partition, and the network drive to the 500GB partition?

will it also cope with me unplugging that HDD and plugging another one in? would they have to be the same name or anythign like that?

then for my documents, something like time machine direct to the internal Time capsule drive for quick access?(I also have a backup script backing them up to my .mac space in case that means I can skip TM?)
 

James.1

Active Member
You would need to unplug the HDD from the Time Capsule and plug it directly into the MacBook to create a bootable clone, if you just mounted the 250GB volume over the network, SuperDuper would write your backup to a Sparse Disk Image which is not bootable.

Backing up to 2 different HDD's won't be a problem even if they are named differently (which they most likely are). I currently backup to 2 different HDD's without a problem. SuperDuper will take the target drive (Your Backup Disk) and make it identical to your source drive (Your MacBook). It doesn't matter which of your 2 backup disks is plugged in at the time, it will make it an identical clone.
 

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
will smart image work ok? So it'll analyze the destination and make the appropriate adjustments regardless of destination drive?

think the clones are fine - definitely hard wired USB. Now I'm wondering about my media. As it doesn't change that often (just music and videos), I could have it attached to a time capsule, then just manually copy the new files across to the USB drives when I'm connected up to do the super duper cloning. Its not essential if I miss one, just annoying

so, backup strategy round 3 :)

equipment: 2x750GB USB HDDs partitioned as 600GB+150GB; 500GB Time capsule attached to network (can you disable wifi and use it wired to my existing hub?); macbook


actions:
1) weekly connect my macbook up to one of the USB HDDs and clone to the 150GB partition - hopefully smartly for speed.
2) if I've downloaded some new videos/music, manually copy those from the TC drive to the 600GB partition
3) disconnect USB HDD, take to work and bring the other one back

so I always have a bootable clone thats no more than a week old - two weeks old if I have a disaster at home. All my videos are also backed up in 2 places no more than two weeks old.


optionally, use time machine to backup just my documents/photos etc if thats doable, for quick restoration (knowing they're also backed up on the clones)
 

James.1

Active Member
Here is what I would do. Partition each USB disk so they are identical (partition wise) and with your SuperDuper partitions being no bigger than your MacBook's internal drive.

Assuming your MacBook internal is 80GB, setup your disks like this:

"USB Disk Home"
Partition 1 Name: "MacBook Clone Home", Partition 1 Size: 80GB
Partition 2 Name: "Media Store Home", Partition 2 Size: 670GB

"USB Disk Work"
Partition 1 Name: "MacBook Clone Work", Partition 1 Size: 80GB
Partition 2 Name: "Media Store Work", Partition 2 Size: 670GB

Copy the necessary data to "USB Disk Work" and take it to work for safe storage. Copy the same data to "USB Disk Home" and attach it to the Time Capsule. You wont use the "MacBook Clone Home" partition, only the "Media Store Home" partition which can have its media shared and added to over the network. Use the Time Capsule internal disk solely for Time Machine backups and only for the sake of File Recovery. If you have a disaster you would attach "USB Disk Home" to your MacBook and clone "MacBook Clone Home" to the internal and then get your latest user files from the Time Capsule.

Once a week (or whenever) bring home "USB Disk Work" from work and attach it, as well as "USB Disk Home" to your MacBook. Clone "Media Store Home" to "Media Store Work" using SuperDuper's Smart Update feature. Also update "MacBook Clone Work" and "MacBook Clone Home" while they are attached, then plug "USB Disk Home" back into the Time Capsule and take "USB Disk Work" back to work.

I hope all thats clear for you and it gives you a good idea of what you could do.
 

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
nice, sounds like a plan :smashin:

picking up my 500GB Time capsule tomorrow. need to get everything sorted before I can clean out my imac for sale.
 

Chester

Well-known Member
That's a good continuity plan. I adopted the same kind of strategy on my PC (now gone to a new home). I used Acronis True Image to get a C: drive image to USB attached 2.5" HDD and then backup my data to DVD-R. My music was simply synchronised to another computer on the network (my MacBook) so I had my entire library on more than one machine, including the image.

Tools like SuperDuper are on my radar to evaluate. Used in conjunction with Time Machine (I use a Time Capsule for this as intended), it offers a great solution. Having a second USB HDD and keeping it off-site offers many more recovery scenarios, very wise to adopt as these days records held electronically surround your everyday life (especially financial) are probably not kept in another form. And even if you did print everything, if the filing cabinet catches fire, they will be destroyed very quickly.

Lets face it, even a 3.5" external HDD is smaller than a filing cabinet!

Just one question: can you password encrypt a SuperDuper like image? I wouldn't be interested in cloning (unless this offers significant benefits) as keeping a HDD off-site also could have a theft risk attached (even if it's in a locked cupboard).
 

James.1

Active Member
The benefit of a clone is that if you have a problem with your boot disk you don't have to reinstall your OS, which depending on its complexity could take anywhere from 2 hours to a whole day and even then it may never be the same as it was previously. With a clone, the time it takes to be back up and running again is only dependent on how much data you need to copy back to your boot disk.

You could encrypt a SuperDuper Clone, but obviously it wouldn't be bootable, and it wouldn't be as easy to restore from.

Here's how to do it:

Open Disk Utility select File > New > Blank Disk Image. Use the settings below and save it to your external HDD.
Encrypted Image Settings.png

Next you'll be prompted to enter a password, it is safe to save the password in Keychain because the Encrypted image will be stored off-site and away from the password, but that choice is up to you. Once you have entered a password the image will be created and mounted.
Encrypted Image Password.png

Launch SuperDuper and select Encrypted Clone as you target, hit Copy Now and then authenticate.
SuperDuper to Encrypted Image.png

That will give you a full copy of your boot disk to an encrypted image stored on an external disk. Getting that data back to your boot disk isn't hard, its just not intuitive. My initial suggestion to restore would be to boot from the Mac OS X install DVD and use Disk Utility to restore the data, however when trying to mount the encrypted image that way Disk Utility throws up an error instead of prompting for a password. I'm assuming thats a bug.

The only way I can think of now would be to partition your backup disk into 2, one for the encrypted image and one for Mac OS. Use the Mac OS X install DVD to do a custom install on to one of those partitions, it doesn't need to be big, 5GB should suffice but make it 10GB just to be sure. Install just the bare essentials (i.e. no printer drivers or extra languages) then boot from this volume to get the latest updates and also install SuperDuper. If and when you need to restore from the encrypted image, boot from that basic Mac OS install and use SuperDuper to copy the data from your encrypted image to your internal disk.

I know it seems like a lot of hassle, but thats the price you pay for having your data encrypted and it is still less painful than a complete reinstall.
 

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
thanks for all the comments. picked my time capsule up yesterday. surprisingly easy to setup - decided to use it to replace my existing 'n' access point/router, but instead of a huge list of MAC addresses that I'd built up over the years, I'm going with WPA and a hidden SSID.

all seemed to work very quickly, but I'll need to slowly go around the house changing setups on all my wifi gear (have a surprisingly large number!)

Did the clones as you suggest (although I set the work partition to 120GB which seems larger than the actual space on my macbook 120GB HDD - does that matter?)

and set time machine off last night and it was all done in about 5 hours.


going to shut my macbook down now and give it a well deserved rest.
 

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