Clones and Clouds: The Force Unites

David Eger at 365daysofclones-troopers-skyscraper

Whether you’re responsible for an empire, a republic, or just a group of rebels, keeping your computers fully armed and operational is important. Just as important is keeping your data current and available even when your base is destroyed or your computers are trapped in carbonite. Things can change quickly in our galaxy. Not everyone agrees on how to protect your precious data; cloning or cloud backup. Decide you must?

A New Hope: The Cloud City

A long, long time ago, digital warriors used clumsy and random methods of backup like tapes, zip drives, and floppies. Some still believe in this hokey and ancient method. Cloud backup services, like Backblaze, are a more elegant and civilized way to protect your data. Those who survived the destruction of Alderaan are sure glad they kept data in the cloud!

The Attack of the Clones: A Troop to Protect Against Storms

After a disaster, downloading all your data from the cloud can take time. Time you may not have as you are retreating across the galaxy. Not only do you need your data, but you need your software along with an operating system. That’s assuming you still know where the software is and have the serial numbers.

Clones to the rescue; instead of rebuilding a system you just restore an image of your system. That’s a bare-metal restore. You’ll stay on target and can be up and running in minutes or hours rather than days.

The key problem with a clone is that it backs up your system, flaws and all. If your computer was slow before restoring from a cloned backup, the clone is going to be just as slow. If you have a virus or ransomware on your computer, your clone is most likely going to be infected as well. Sometimes you need to dump the garbage to return your computer to light speed. The only thing more annoying than Jar-Jar Binks is too many versions of Acrobat Reader on your hard drive. I reinstall my operating system from scratch every few years, so I don’t need a cloned backup.

Cloning a Hard Drive

An effective cloned backup strategy requires you to have a small army of drives. If you have one cloned backup and keep it next to your computer, it will have the same physical risks as your computer. You always need to keep at least one cloned backup off-site and one beside the computer. Alas, you are now a slave to your clones as you must now remember to swap out full clone drives and transport your clones off-site. If you forget, clones have no mercy. Putting all your faith in this system is disturbing.

I know my hate is strong regarding cloned backups—don’t get me wrong, clones are perfect when time is of the essence. Whether you’re base is Hoth, Naboo, or just Cleveland, a clone is the quickest way to restore your data. There is another…

The Force Awakens: Harmony With the Cloud

Both cloning and cloud backups have their advantages. Unlike the Force, you don’t have to pick sides. You’ll love it. I know. It’s NOT a trap. I swear.

First, start with a great cloud backup service like Backblaze. They take your important data and keep it protected in the cloud automatically. Lando’s got you covered. An AT-AT could fall on your house and your data is protected in the cloud.

How to Clone a Hard Drive

Then consider a full clone of your system. First, you’ll need a hard drive that’s big enough to hold your system. Hard drives are cheap these days, so that’s not a major cost. On the Mac, I recommend SuperDuper (free) or Carbon Copy Cloner ($40). Windows users can use Macruim Reflect Free, AOMEI Backupper (Free), or Acronis True Image ($29.99). Each of these programs can make an exact duplicate of your system onto another hard drive. The paid upgrades or versions of these programs add the ability to schedule a regular clone and make restores easier. For extra protection, make two clones and keep one off-site at all times.

When you take this blended approach, you cover all your key bases. If your hard drive dies, you can choose a clean start and download your data from the cloud. If timing is critical you can restore off your clone. Should your clone fail or suffer the same fate as your computer, the cloud is your backup to your backup.

Evil forces are always at ready to attack your data, but with your clones and the cloud, you’re protected against blasters, light sabers, and even fully-operational Death Stars. The circle is now complete.


About Dave Greenbaum

Guest blogger Dave Greenbaum, AKA DoctorDave, has a computer repair business in Lawrence, KS. When he’s not fixing computers or writing about them, he’s drinking either coffee or beer, and sometimes both. Follow Dave @calldrdave | LinkedIn | Facebook