Eric Cheng

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My new travel backup solution

I'm taking advantage of 2 days at home to revamp the way I backup my MacBook Pro (multitasking rules!). It seems like I do this every couple of months, but one of these days, I'll get it right. Within the next couple of weeks, I will re-configure my MBP to have a 32GB SSD system drive and a 160GB data drive. My MBP has space for two 2.5" hard disks, using the same hardware I used to create an internal RAID, except that I will be swapping one of the two with an MTRON SSD drive and disposing of the striped RAID configuration. MTRON drives are really fast compared with all of the other SSD options out there. One downside to this configuration is that the second internal drive controller is IDE/ATA and not SATA, which limits me to a 160GB 5400rpm drive.

Why convert to SSD boot and IDE data? I multitask a lot and am frequently disk-bound. See this comparison video of simultaneous application launches... and the MTRON drive is nearly 2x faster than the Samsung unit, although reviews state that Intel hardware cripples it slightly, setting a ceiling of 80MB/s read.

Back to backups. When I am at home, I use SuperDuper! to backup to sparse images on the network, but while on the road, things get more complicated. I have a 160GB Firewire800 enclosure, which I will partition into 4 partitions:

  1. 10GB Mac OS X Leopard DVD clone
  2. 10GB Mac OS X Leopard clean, lean install*
  3. 35GB system backup
  4. 93.4GB data backup

* note that a 10GB partition is *barely* enough to install Leopard. Large OS updates may not want to download and install unless you go in and delete some of the larger apps that are installed by default (Mail, iCal, etc.) to free up space.

Hint: The best way to clone your Leopard DVD is to use the terminal commands on this page. No need to use Disk other than to partition with GUID for Intel Mac boot.

I will use SuperDuper! to do frequent clones of my 32GB SSD boot drive to the 35GB system backup partition on the external drive. I will also install SuperDuper!, Toast, and Disk Warrior on the Leopard clean install. So this gives me 3 boot options from Firewire:

  1. Mac OS X installer DVD
  2. Clean install of Mac OS X
  3. System backup of my MBP

I will use SuperDuper! or another backup program to back up my data to the data partition, and will also travel with a second external drive for yet another backup of data.

I hope it works.