My Complete Backup Workflow

Anyone in the professional creative industry knows how important and invaluable their work is to them. For this reason it’s crucial that we all find solutions to keep our data safe from all sorts of common occurrences and uncommon disasters. This doesn’t just apply to people who are in creative work. If you’re in any need of keeping large amounts of data around for a long time (like photos, videos, documents, etc.) then you should be paying attention to this.

A common hard-and-fast rule to backups is the 3-2-1 rule:

  • 3 copies of all your vital data

  • 2 different formats

  • 1 in a different location

Here’s how I achieve all of that in my set up:

Local Backup

Super drive.png

First and foremost, I make a complete, bootable clone of my main computer, which is my iMac. My iMac has a 1TB drive, which requires a 1TB external drive to back up to. I have exactly that sitting right next to my computer that holds an up-to-date copy of my computer. I brought an external HD enclosure I brought from OWC, with a 1TB drive inside that I had laying around, but you can buy one similar of Amazon. 

To automate the backup, I use Carbon Copy Cloner. I previously used Super Duper, but it went haywire on me about a year ago, so I bought something similar. Carbon Copy Cloner automates the backup every night at 1 am, creating an exact duplicate of my iMac.

I chose to go the bootable clone route for backing up my iMac because if my iMac hard drive decides its time to move on, I can boot from my external drive and be back in business within minutes. You can’t do that with something like Time Machine. Although, you could set up another drive to use as a Time Machine if you need the flexibility of going back in time to previous versions of your files.

Offsite Backup

I use Crashplan. I pay them $60 a year to hold a copy of everything I own on a big server somewhere, probably in Texas. This is incase, for some reason, my iMac and all my local hard drives are caught in a fiery burning blaze. It’s an online service, and all you do is install a simple app that automates the upload at a set times that you chose (similar to how Carbon Copy Cloner works).

Bulk Storage

RAID drive.png

When you’re in creative work, you accumulate a lot of data, especially if you deal with photography or videography. I use a 4TB RAID array to store all my projects and larger files that I don’t need access to everyday. RAID stands for a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks. My 4TB RAID is two 2TB drives side-by-side, in a single enclosure, that combines to make 4TB. I have my RAID set to a RAID-1, which means that I can only use 2TB of space, because the enclosure is constantly copying whats on one drive to the other drive seamlessly, so that I always have two copies incase one drive fails. For a better overview on RAID’s, go here

Crashplan comes in here too. It automatically uploads all the data from my storage drive to the cloud too, along with my iMac, so that everything I have locally is also somewhere offsite, for added protection.


So that's how I keep 3 copies of all my data, in 2 different formats with 1 of them being offsite. All in all, the cost comes in at somewhere between $500-$600, which is a decent chunk of change, but worth the security of my data.