Backing up over a Mountain Lion

I often feel like I have a Midas touch when it comes to computers. I almost never come across a problem with my laptop or software that I can't solve. Part of my job involves teaching others how to use technology for Bible study, so I'm in deep on how these programs work and how to fix them when they go wrong. So by and large, my technological existence is trouble free.

Until last Thursday.

The seminary is presently upgrading current Macs to Mountain Lion. My friend Dave in the IT department loaded the installer onto my computer and let me have at it. I had upgraded this same laptop to Lion last year, so I knew what to expect. Thursday night I set aside some time to run the installer, expecting that Mountain Lion would be roaring in my ear very soon. You can tell where this is headed: After watching the progress bar move pixel by pixel across my screen for ages, the install failed. I rebooted, only to find that my computer would only boot into the Mountain Lion recovery drive. Disk utility would not even recognize that my hard drive existed. So I tried to reinstall Mountain Lion again from the recovery drive. Again, a fail followed by rebooting only into the recovery drive. After using the family computer to google what was wrong, the only solution I could find was to erase my hard drive and try a clean install. This time the installation worked. But all my data was gone. I hung my head in shame, having been eaten by Mountain Lion.

Actually, I didn't. Here's where the Midas touch comes in. I have backups. Lots and lots of backups. I back up to Time Machine, and I back up to the cloud with Crashplan. I even use SuperDuper! to make a bootable copy of my hard drive onto another external drive. It was easy to use Time Machine to put all my data back on my reformatted hard drive and get back to where I was before. Sure, it took some time, but I did not lose any data at all. I'd say that's golden.

Here's my current backup strategy, modified a little now to account for ML's ability to have more than one Time Machine backup disk:

  • Time Machine disk at the office
  • Time machine disk at home
  • Crashplan account which backs up all my data to the cloud all the time
  • Nightly run of SuperDuper! to make an exact bootable copy of my hard drive on a very portable SeaGate hard drive

Those who make a living off of research, writing, notes, and files, like pastors and teachers do, cannot afford to avoid backups. Make it a regular part of your workflow, or you will eventually regret it. I'd suggest you follow the redundant strategies I have listed here. If you have some good tips for Windows users, please leave them in the comments.