Options for storing my growing collection of movies/music/TV on my Mac?
March 25, 2015 7:40 AM   Subscribe

I own a macbook with 256 GB of space. I used to have a 1 TB backup drive but it broke, along with the majority of my media files; this is the second time in two years that I've had a hard drive go bad on me. I opted for a smaller 256 GB SSD for backup this time around as I heard they're less prone to failing, but it's too small for me to put on much besides my Time Machine backup. What options do I have to store my other files?

Here are some options I can think of:

1. Buy another HDD and pray it doesn't break on me. I haven't had too much luck with my hard drives, and don't want to lose everything again... so I'm not too sure about this one.

2. Buy ANOTHER HDD on top of the first one as a failsafe. My wallet doesn't like this option very much, but maybe two ultra-cheapo HDD's might work.

3. Throw the files onto the cloud somehow. I'm pretty sure I'd have to fork over a tidy sum to get 500+ GB of space through sites like Dropbox, though. Maybe there's options I'm leaving out; I don't know much about online storage besides Google Drive/iCloud.

Please share with me any ideas I might have missed. How do the tech-savvy among us store their files? Thanks!
posted by CottonCandyCapers to Technology (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
01 Upgrade the SSD to a larger capacity
02 Use an externa storgage device (USB 3.0 flash drive / Portable (ssd) drive)
03 Insert a large capacity SD card

A. Get an other external drive to back-up the MB + the additional storage device using Time Machine
B. Get yet an other external drive and create yet an other back-up using an imaging software like Super Duper.
C. You can top it off with various cloud services.
posted by Mac-Expert at 7:55 AM on March 25, 2015

Best answer: The standard advice for backups is to have one local backup and one off-site backup.

A drive dedicated to Time Machine provides the local backup. It sounds like you might be keeping some files and the Time Machine backups on the same drive-- do not do this. When that one drive fails, you lose both the files and your backup.

The off-site backup could be e.g. another hard drive you keep in a safe-deposit box and periodically sync, but I've always found that process too much work to adhere to. Something like Dropbox can provide an easier backup, but, as you said, the price is steep.

So you might want to look into backup services. I've heard good things from Mac users about Backblaze, which is $5/month for unlimited storage. There's also Crashplan. Or if you don't want to trust a cloud service, you could sync two hard drives from different locations (e.g. home and office) with a Transporter.

Good luck!
posted by ejbenjamin at 7:55 AM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Instead of a normal hard drive, you might consider a NAS (network-attached storage). They're usually recommended when you want to share files among multiple computers, but they can also be used for syncing with cloud services and/or for backups. For example, my partner and I have a NAS that contains several hard drives in a RAID setup; simply speaking, that means that if one hard drive fails, we don't lose data, because the data is backed up on another hard drive in the NAS. Our setup is homemade, but there are lots of premade NAS options out there. It really depends on what your budget is.
posted by neushoorn at 7:56 AM on March 25, 2015

Best answer: Options 1 and 2 are not great. Cheapo hard drives are cheapo for a reason. But the real reason that these options aren't good is that all of your data is in the same place, so anything that destroys one hard drive has a good chance of destroying the other one.

Cloud backup is the way to go. It may not be cheap, but you're paying for a service to take care of redundancy for you. I use SpiderOak, which is better than dropbox as far as security/privacy concerns, and which costs $12/month for 1TB of storage (there are discounts if you pay on an annual basis).

The great thing about cloud backup is not having to think about it. It just happens while you go about your business, and you don't have to do anything or worry about it.
posted by number9dream at 7:59 AM on March 25, 2015

A low-headache way to do offsite backup with Time Machine is to buy two HDDs and keep them in different places. I bring my laptop to work and use it at home, so I have separate and redundant backups at each of my two desks on ~$80 500GB drives.

For big stuff, a RAID attached to an old laptop with a broken screen in my basement works. The enclosure was $100, plus $100 each for two 2TB drives.
posted by migurski at 8:25 AM on March 25, 2015

I strongly advise a cheapo NAS and 2x 4TB red drives.

You can get a decent QNAP or Synology NAS for $150, the drives go on sale for $110 not infrequently.

That way, you have a huge amount of redundant storage accessible anywhere on your network for about $350 total. 4TB should last you many, many, many years. RAID is built into pretty much every NAS.

Most NAS also have a built in cloud storage replication tool, so you are completely and totally covered. I suggest CrashPlan or Carbonite for online cloud storage.
posted by lattiboy at 8:49 AM on March 25, 2015

NAS with Raid/Mirroring is the best local 'set and forget' protection you can get, coupled with lattiboy's aforementioned cloud backup, youd be pretty protected.

Though, if you want to get hacky, you could setup a local external drive on your mac, a single drive NAS somewhere else in your house, and setup scheduled rsync or freefilesync to create a poor man's local replication. In someways, this may provide a better protection than a single RAID NAS, as the drives would be in two separate locations in your house, and wouldn't be susceptible to a single point of NAS failure outside of the drives (logic board, controller board, mother board, NIC etc)
posted by edman at 10:32 AM on March 25, 2015

Response by poster: I appreciate the replies, folks. I didn't realize cloud storage had come so far! I just started the 30 day free trial for CrashPlan, and depending on how that goes

I'll probably grab a large external, and back that up through CrashPlan as well. If anyone can suggest a cheap >1TB hard drive please let me know, as I'm about to go shopping for one. I'd have to learn a bit more about NAS/Raid - would that still be a good idea, even with the cloud storage? Or is a normal external fine?

Thanks again.
posted by CottonCandyCapers at 11:38 AM on March 25, 2015

Best answer: Good advice so far. You definitely want (at least) dual backup options. Here's what I do for my wife's computer:

1. Time Machine backups to an external hard drive that I plug in every other day. I don't leave it plugged in, because if a power surge destroys the computer, it might also take out a plugged-in external drive. Right now I'm using a Western Digital 4TB external drive that I got on sale for $125 on Amazon, but it's not as nice as the previous 1TB drive I used to use because it needs both a power cable and a USB connection. A 1 TB bus-powered USB 3 drive is down to $60 now. In general, Western Digital drives have done well over the last few years, and Seagate has had some quality control issues, but you know what they say about past performance not being a guarantee of future results.

2. CrashPlan. I paid for the seed drive option, and that was good, because it's sloooow on uploads. Maybe it's because I use the full encryption option? It's been a definite and noticeable resource hog, unfortunately. I've heard that Backblaze does better (OS X native, not Java) but they don't offer seed drive options.

3. We have a Synology NAS with two 3TB Western Digital Red drives that I use for various other things, but I back up her photos and videos to this NAS as well. Yeah, this is a bit paranoid, but bitter experience backs me up.

4. I used to use SuperDuper to occasionally clone her drive and put it aside - totally static offline storage. Since starting with CrashPlan, I've given this up.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:10 PM on March 25, 2015

Best answer: A postscript - like ejbenjamin said above, do not use an external drive for both storage and Time Machine backups.

You ideally want a backup drive that's much bigger than your storage needs, because the whole point of Time Machine is to preserve snapshot backups over time. It does this fairly smartly - things that haven't changed don't get duplicated - but it will silently start deleting old backups to make room once it fills your disk. This is not what you want, and sometimes people get very upset about it...
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:18 PM on March 25, 2015

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