I'm in a variety of audio and writing groups, and today there was a woman who was distressed because she had just moved, and in the move her laptop was totaled and she lost her backup flash drive with her novel on it. Apparently tech specialists told her they could not recover the laptop drive.
Let's have a moment of silence...
Keep three backups of your work, with one of the backups being in a separate location. Now, this is easier for writers since they are working with far smaller file sizes, but even when you're writing music, you seriously need to take this into consideration. It is not unknown for both primary and secondary backups to fail around the same time. Nor are fire and theft unusual.
(TL;DR --> At home you want a minimum of your main, active drive(s) and a good backup of each. Use a proper backup program for this, such as Carbon Copy Cloner. For your tertiary drive, there are cloud services that can be used for backup, but you will have to pay, probably in the vicinity of $10/month depending on who you go with. Be careful of sync services vs real backup services. Finally, for long term storage of digital medium, optical discs still seem to be the best, meaning they are strongest and hold data for the longest amount of time. Just remember not to keep all three of your backups in the same location.)
Cloud services are a choice. Again, with writers it's an easy choice, but if you're working with massive amounts of data, you might end up having to pay for extra space in a cloud service. One thing that I do is retire tertiary backups after a while, moving them into hard storage. If it's something you won't need to access very often, like a mix you are done with, Amazon's cold storage is a not-too-expensive option. The cheapest option is probably having an archival backup drive at a family member or mate's house. Heck, you two could swap drives, helping each other out. That tertiary backup drive becomes an archive that you pick up only when you are ready to retire more things to the archive. Of course, even that's not perfect. You'll want to copy/replace that drive every few years. (Don't forget the crazy pace at which tech changes. Personally, I think this is making it harder to keep things long term. Remember physical photo albums? I've got some from 70-80 years ago. How many digital photos have you and your friends lost over time?)
Anyway, I have my primary drive and backup drive at home. For smaller writing projects, and for larger audio projects (that I am currently working on), I keep them in a cloud service. But... I don't totally trust cloud services, either, so I have an automated script setup to copy one cloud service to two other cloud services.
Setting up a bi-weekly automated backup script on a Mac
- Open automator from your applications menu. (cmd-A for applications menu)
- Choose "Calendar Alarm".
- Under the Library menu, choose "Files & Folders".
- From the new menu that opens just to the right, click "Get Specified Finder Items" and drag it into the empty window area to the right of that. This is the pane where you construct your Automator task/script.
- You'll see your "Get Specified Finder Items" task in the open area now. Click "Add" and find the folder or file you want copied. Add it.
- Back in the Files & Folders menu, select "Copy Finder Items" and drag that to the open area in the right, under the "Get..." task you currently have there.
- Click "To" and navigate to where you want the files copied. Click "Choose".
- Tick the "Replace Existing Files" checkbox.
- Click the Run arrow in the upper right to test it.
- Save the automator script (cmd-S to save). It will now run the script from the Calendar. Calendar I believe also opens at this point.
- Go to your new Calendar alarm scripted task in the Calendar and make sure it is set for the correct time and date that you want. Then click "Repeat", and set it for how often you want it. I run the script twice a week. (Select "Weekly", then in the Calendar copy the event and paste it into a new day.)
So again for smaller files, I have my primary drive, my backup.... okay, okay I have two hard backups... one is via Time Machine, and another is via a piece of software I have called Carbon Copy Cloner, which is worth every penny. Then for the smaller files, I also keep them in a cloud service, with a script to copy them to two other cloud services.
For larger files, I have the primary backup and two hard drive backups as mentioned, but I will sometimes keep active projects in the cloud services, too, as long as they don't get too big. I also used to keep an archive drive like mentioned above with my brother, but he lives halfway across the nation now, so we don't do that too much anymore.
Now that I'm write-thinking about it, I think I'll ask a friend or two if they want to swap archival drives.
Yeah, so -- backup your files! At least three copies, and keep one in a separate location. Having your main drive and a single backup drive is not proper backup! Three is the magic number!
Hard drives are getting smaller, and cloud services are getting cheaper. Here are some common larger options, with some of their pricing plans (not all).
(Please note that these services may not work if you are intending to cloud-backup an external drive. Check each one individually for cloud backup as opposed to cloud sync.)
iCloud - $1/month for 50GB, $3/month for 200GB, $10/month for 2TB
Google Drive - $2/month for 100GB
Dropbox - starts at $8.25/month for 1TB
Here's an article from Jan 5 of this year, reviewing some of the top cloud services for music.
Here's an article from Aug 2017, talking about applicable cloud backup services for backing up external drives.
It may be reasonable to buy a quality external optical disc drive if you don't still have one, and use it to burn copies of your completed projects and general software to archive.