My new backup strategy for 2011

My computer was starting to get slower and slower for the past days. And I realized my automatic backup wasn't backing anything up for the past month.

And I realized I had different versions of the same files on my 2 laptops...

Well, it seems I have to do some cleaning up.

Synchronizing paperwork

I started by cleaning up my Dropbox folder. I removed shared folders with past clients, and created a "Paperwork" folder where I put all my invoices, contracts and general paperwork.

I also added my private KeePass file as well as other info I may need to access anywhere, anytime.

KeePass allow me to store all my login/password credentials in a secure way (protected by a master password). It is really useful to have this file on all my computers (and mobile phone).

Dropbox is excellent for storing simple files, that you need everywhere. Being able to access invoices and contracts even from my mobile phone proved quite valuable when meeting clients.

Hard backup of personal files

I've also changed my scheduled backups of personal files. I bought an Acronis True Image last year, and reconfigured it today.

I have a hard drive whose sole purpose is to save backups. I scheduled for the first of each month to save : my system state, my applications configuration, and my personal files (photos, saved gamed, writings, etc).

I manually started all this backups to have a clean start. I also forced the backup to restart a whole new file every 6 month (opposed to using the incremental backup).

Backing up my music and movies

I did not spent too much time figuring how to save my hundred of Go of music and movies. I rarely watch the same movies twice, so losing them won't affect me too much.

I occasionally re-watch series, though, but as most of my friends have the same tastes as I, I could very easily get them back from them, or download them (again).

Regarding music, well, I have quite a big collection, but most of it is already "backed up" on my portable mp3 player.

Automatic synchronizing with BitBucket

On my day work, I now always version my files using Mercurial. BitBucket offers unlimited storage, and unlimited public repositories. Private repo are limited to 5 users. As I'm mostly alone on projects that should stay private, this seems the best deal I could found.

Mercurial being a versionning system, I got all the benefits of a backup here, being able to revert to previous versions, update it whenever I want and access it from anywhere.

I wrote a custom Hg hook on commit to automatically push my repos to BitBucket at least once a day (I'll post the code in a future post).

MySQL Backup

I used to backup mysql databases on my work computer using a windows app. This was slowing down my computer on every boot as well and backup was thus only effective when I was working and not when I was on vacations.

Today, I wanted something a lot more flexible, so I set a cronjob on my main host coupled with a slightly edited autoMySQLBackup script.

This will automatically run everyday at midnight and make a local save (with daily, weekly and monthly rotate) of all my clients databases. Logs are saved on disk and gzipped, and will also be sent to a special mail address (stored on GMail).

This way I am sure to have my mysql backups on two different hosts, with daily and automatic saves, that I can access from anywhere if anything goes wrong.


It took me almost two full days to get the right tools, configure them and write my custom scripts but now, it is seamlessly integrated with my daily workflow. This is a weight off my shoulders, I know I can safely work as usual and my files are saved and easily accessible.

Tags : #backup #mercurial #mysql #dropbox #keepass #acronis #bitbucket

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