Offsite Backups, the Final Piece of the Puzzle

Back in 2007 I did a whole set of posts about backups, laying out my "clone your drives" strategy and listing what software I used to make the backups, and going through several different choices for Windows. About a year and a half later that's still what I do for the most part - every machine has an external drive and I weekly clone the entire boot drive to the external backup. I've added Time Machine more for the "oh shit, I'd like to get yesterday's version of a particular file" coverage, and since a lot of things are heavily sync'ed between my laptop and my desktop that means I really have something like six copies of my main files. Windows has been mainly ghetto-ized into a virtual machine so it's a single file that gets cloned and backed up that way and to hell with trying to run a Windows backup. (I still have Boot Camp and the Bart PE/DriveImage XML solution for that install, but I don't think I've used Boot Camp in 2009 yet. Which means the first day I want it I'll have to let Microsoft play patch-and-reboot for quite a while. Be nice if they could get their shit together about updates.)

There was one remaining glaring hole in the entire system: if a tragedy destroys all of the hard drives in my office and living room then all six copies of whatever can be destroyed at once. D'oh! I finally got around to solving that last week, and my suggestion is Jungle Disk. Jungle Disk is a cross-platform piece of software that backs up data to Amazon S3 storage. When I installed the OS X version it walked me through adding S3 to my existing Amazon account and then configuring the backup process. Jungle Disk can run backups automatically, throttle bandwidth usage, provide encryption, will archive multiple versions of files, and costs $20 for a license on as many computers as you want. It took around a week being throttled during the day to get my Documents folder and my Aperture photo library up to the cloud - that's roughly 26 Gigabytes of data. Now that it's all up there it looks like it will be able to fairly easily handle updates and changes as we go. I just finished installing it on Horton to backup my Subversion archive, MySQL databases, and all of the web pages.

S3 charges $0.15 per Gb of storage per month and $0.10 Gb of transfer in (plus some other twiddly charges for overhead requests). My projected bill for S3 as of March 1st is $4.98. So for $25 ($20 for JungleDisk and $5 for Amazon S3) I've backed up every document and photo I have to the cloud. If every hard drive I own is destroyed at the same time, once the insurance claim clears and I buy a new Mac I can pull down everything I care about. Sure it would take a while, but none of it's GONE. That's worth $5/month no doubt.

If you care about your data, the Amazon S3/Jungle Disk combo seems pretty solid to me. I'm aware of some free services that do this, but there's no business model there that makes sense to me, and if you're using a backup service you don't really trust then what's the point? I don't think Amazon is going anywhere and since they are charging money (even if it is a piddly amount of money) then if I have a problem I can be aggressive about complaining and yelling.

Anyway, so far I'm pretty happy with how it all works and I can sleep easy knowing that even if a meteor crushes my house and demagnetizes the rubble I'm still able to restore my critical data.