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MediaStorm’s Guide to Backing Up

There are two types of people, the saying goes, those whose hard drives have already failed and those whose will.

That’s why it’s important to have redundancy. For every drive you use, you should always have a backup.

At MediaStorm, we keep our system software–the OS and all applications including Final Cut Pro–on a drive named A. The media for our projects reside on a B drive. We have a duplicate of each that is backed up religiously.

A gets backed up to A_backup; B to B_backup.

For that task we use SuperDuper! from shirt-pocket.com. The application copies the entirety of the drive to it’s respective clone. In other words, you are mirroring the whole drive, not just backing up specific folders.

SuperDuper’s! one window interface is quite simple.

Simply choose the drive you’d like to back up from the Copy pulldown menu and the backup destination from the to: menu.

Choose Backup – all files from the using pulldown menu.


At the bottom of the window, selects the Options… button.

SuperDuper! 2

Choose Smart Update from the During Copy menu. This option is the fastest. According to the SuperDuper! manual, smart updates will update any files on your clone drive, new or old, that do not match the primary drive. It will also remove any files on your clone that no longer exist on the original.

Finally, at the bottom of the window, SuperDuper! offers several options once the backup is complete. Shut Down Computer is a useful choice.

Since we generally run the application at the end of the day, this option allows us to start the backup right before we leave. Just make sure you are logged out of all other applications first.

Backing up is essential. The best way to make sure it’s part of your daily workflow is to find a simple solution like SuperDuper! Until you’ve made using it a habit, leave yourself a Stickie note so it’s the last thing you see before shutting down.

Drives are going to fail on you, it’s just a matter of time. The question is, when that happens will you have a backup ready?

Learn more about our approach to producing multimedia by purchasing MediaStorm’s Post-production Workflow. Spanning more than 200 steps, the workflow covers every phase of editing, from organizing and editing assets in Final Cut Pro 7 through backing up and archiving your project. The workflow includes exclusive access to our Aperture Workflow and our Final Cut Asset Parser. Learn more about MediaStorm’s Post-production Workflow.

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  • http://www.documentaryweddingphotographer.co.uk Josh Archer

    Using SuperDuper! is great BUT, if you accidentally delete a load of files and don’t notice immediately, the back-up drive could be sync’d and remove those files from your back-up drive = deleted from main drive + back-up drive = screwed.

    For example I seem to remember this happening to David Ziser not long back so even the savvy get hit by this danger.

    It’s safer to use an incremental back-up system like Time Machine (not that that’s the best to use, just the concept is good) OR dual back-up drives that are synced at different intervals, one once a day and one every 2 days or whatever.

    Nothing is fool proof but single ‘perfect mirror’ drives are more vulnerable than they look.

  • David

    Related question: How do you backup all the many-gigs of video? Do projects get their own drives? Do you keep them all live (always-connected)? Do you keep your Final Cut project files, render files, and graded files on the same drive as your raw video files?

    I’ve got a great backup system for all my other stuff: photos, system files, docs, etc. But I’m at a bit of a loss as to best practices for organizing and backing up huge video files and FCP projects.

    Any tips?

  • Eric

    Thanks for the comments, Josh.

    Yes, it is true that mirror drives are vulnerable to that kind of loss. No system is perfect as you say. However, we as a general rule don’t delete media we are not using on the B drive. If we inadvertently delete something from FCP and don’t notice until the next day, there’s always the FCP autosave vault saved to the A drive. Having said that, incremental back-up is certainly something to consider for the future as we are always looking to improve.

    David, we keep all current projects on the B drives until they are complete. Then we copy them to two external backups for archiving (except render files). We tend not to use the FCP Media Manager as it’s usually only about 85% accurate. Therefore, we have lots of archive drives.

  • http://www.stephenjedgar.com/CREMA.jpg stephen j. edgar

    how timely!
    I just lost a TB last week and have spent the last 6 days in recovery HELL. Not Fun. It has been quite the learning curve. While I feel like the poster-boy for bad breaks, this will not stop me from telling my story and, in essence, scaring the living shit out of anyone who’ll listen, DON’T BE LAZY, AND BACK THE EFF UP!

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  • http://www.abosio.com/ Anthony

    I’m a huge fan of Super Duper. I’ve been using it for 4 years now.

    I highly recommend that “automated” be one of the key components of a backup plan. At one point I had Super Duper running automatically at night for over a year and I suddenly realized I should check on it. (I have it shut down the computer when it is done.) Of course, it was up to date.

    The two times I had a boot drive go bad in the four years, I was able to swap in the Super Duper copy and keep going like nothing happened. This is not possible with Time Machine. Time Machine is great for incremental backups and being able to grab previous versions or deleted/corrupted files, but it is not great for restoring an entire drive.

    I have Super Duper only update/add files six days a week and then do a Smart Update on the seventh (otherwise the drive would fill up), so I have a little room for error. Mileage may vary on that depending on the size of your files.

    Merlin Mann’s recent post is a great kick in the butt on this too: http://www.43folders.com/2010/03/15/yes-another-backup-lecture

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