Derek Sivers

How I backup


Some people have asked, so here is how I do my backups. It takes me about ten seconds per day and five minutes per month to maintain.

It works well for me, but I’m always open to suggestions. Just email me with any ideas or questions.

every-day documents (~40 GB)

Files I use and change every day: documents, emails, code, diary, ideas, website, accounts, etc.

I’ve written shortcuts for these rsync commands so it’s really as simple as me typing bkz or bkstick in the terminal as I’m working anyway. I do it a few times a day, especially if I’ve just made or saved something of value. And always right before I shut down the computer, which I do almost any time I step away from it for more than a few minutes. That’s why I say it’s like ten seconds a day, just typing that command occasionally.

keepsakes (~3 TB)

Rarely-accessed files I want to keep forever: videos and photos of my kid, music and film collection.

So that’s five copies of my keepsakes in four different locations. Each one also has a recent copy of my every-day documents from above. So a few minutes a month to connect the USB drives, and I only do the safe deposit box when I’m going that way anyway, and only takes a couple minutes.

In the days of spinning-platter hard drives, they used to die surprisingly often, so I like the security of many copies. But it also helps to have some deliberately behind others, so on the rare case where I’ve deleted something, then rsynced my dailies and even my monthly, then realized I need that thing I deleted, then I know the drive in the safe deposit box has it since I haven’t updated that one in a couple months.