I keep getting shot down on this suggestion due to cost, but really the best, and in the long run cheapest way to back up your iTunes is via Drobo. Look it up online. It is basically infinite storage with built in back up. 4 hot swappable SATA drives. I have my iTunes directly pathed there, and have the Drobo hooked up via Droboshare (yes at additional cost) to my network as a network resource. If you read how it works, 3 of the 4 drives could fail at the same time, and you would still keep all of your data. Any time there is a problem with a drive you are told by the Drobo to swap it out. You do this without turning anything off or losing any data. Works great, easy to set up, and you can put any size drives in it you want. I currently have 4 1TB drives which gives me 3.2 TB of storage, the rest dedicated to backing itself up.
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The Drobo suggestion is a great one, especially if you want constant backup without having to think about a backup schedule. The only downsides are the cost and that you have everything committed to one physical device that can be lost in a burglary or fire.
A simpler, cheaper way to do it is to plug another 1 TB drive into the Mini, either Firewire or USB, and use a backup application like SuperDuper to clone your primary drive on a regular schedule. You can buy a good quality external 1 TB drive from LaCie or Seagate for $100-120, back up every Saturday morning and likely never lose more than a week's worth of ripped files.
The advantage of having a separate physical drive is that you can keep it in a separate location when you're away from your system for awhile. As always, the choice comes down to which set of compromises you're most comfortable with.
Are you sure about that M'texas? According to their website having four 1TB drives gives you 2.7TB of storage with .9TB for redundancy, not 3.2TB of storage, and there's no way you could lose 3/4 of your drives at once and reconstruct it with a single dive.
If you are not in a big hurry the next edition of OSX will have data redundancy built in so it will manage all of this for you at a fraction of the price of the Dobro. You can buy four 1TB drives for around $400 and the 4TB Dobro is over $1,000. I would buy another 1TB drive and copy your existing and then wait for Snow Leopard to come out later this year.
My solution was to do what you suggest at the end or your post, Iwalker198: attach a second drive to the first. I have two 2TB drives daisy-chained to my Mac Mini. I set up Time Machine to copy one to the other, but I keep the second drive turned off and only connect it periodically when I've made some additions to my iTunes Library. This has been about as painless as can be.
A few things to think about:
With time machine you need to have a drive that is at least 2-3 times the size of what you're trying to back up. If you wait until 900gb of a 1tb is used up you can't just go get another 1tb drive and start backing it all up. This is assuming you were using the initial drive for storage and backing up.
You should backup everything in your iTunes folder and not just the actual music files.
The first time you backup using time machine you need to have plenty of space on your new drive. If you fill a 1tb drive up to its limit and then buy a 2tb drive you may not be able to even use time machine for the initial backup. This is a time machine shortcoming. This is where superduper is a life saver.
I am on an older G5 mac. not running time machine. I also use SuperDuper with a pair of OWC 750GB FW drives. And like Drubin, I keep one drive off until I do a SuperDuper backup. Its a single click after setting up the type you want.
synthfreek speaks the truth about the extra space needed for buffer with time machine.
The other problem with Drobo is its slow. I have it set up with 4 1tb 7200rpm drives on a Dual Quad Mac Pro with 5gb ram and could not get it to work with firewire 800, had to use USB 2.0. I like the capacity and seriously needed the backup for my images but don't know if i would go that route again. Customer support was okay.
You should backup everything in your iTunes folder and not just the actual music files.Good advice, but ....
On a Windows box, if you have your iTunes directory set to somewhere other than the default, as I do (E:\iTunes) then the music files are there, but the two files that represent the database are not.
They remain in My Documents\My Music\iTunes.
The two files are iTunes Music Library.xml and iTunes Library.itl. You should back these up but you do have options. If all you have is the .xml file, iTunes can rebuild the .itl database file.
If you have neither (have lost them due to a crash) you can rebuild by adding the folder containing the music to the library, but this is sometimes not possible, and you have to add the files - that's super painful, but does work. If it is possible, it will take a long time for iTunes to crunch its way through.
If you have downloaded artwork from iTunes Store you also should have a backup of "Album Artwork".
So when you make a backup of your music files on a PC, copy the My Documents\My Music\iTunes folder that goes with it at the same time.
It's possible that the backup utility inside iTunes does both for you - never tried it. I have experienced corruption of the iTunes DB so I am pretty careful now.
SuperDuper is about as easy to use as an application gets. When you launch, it scans for any attached drives. You pick the source drive from a pull-down menu on the left side of the window and a destination drive from the pull-down on the right, click "Copy now," click a confirmation button and the copy starts. A status window opens showing you what's going on and when the copy is done.
The first time you copy a large drive it will take a long time, depending on the size, the speed of the drive and whether you're using USB or Firewire. After the initial full copy only changed or new files will be copied so it takes only a few minutes, depending on how much new music you've ripped.
After you've chosen a source and destination drive the first time, those will come up as the default when you open the application but you can change it if you want to copy a different drive, or copy to a different drive. There are some other options, like having the application repair disk permissions before you start, but the basic operation is extremely easy, and easy to understand.
One of the side benefits of the application is that you can create a bootable clone of the drive in your computer, either in a partition on one of your big drives or on another external drive. It's very reassuring to have an exact copy of your operating system, data and applications on an external drive and be able to boot any compatible computer even if your hard drive fails.
Jtwrace - Yes, you can back up any drive to any backup medium that has the capacity of the original. I use SuperDuper to back up an external drive with all the iTunes music and database on it, and also to clone the internal drive of the MacBook Pro so that I can boot from the clone if I ever need to.
Looks like I need to get SuperDuper!
This way I can clone my mini and my external drive that has the itunes music. I didn't know that you can clone two different drives onto one. SuperDuper will allow you to select multiple drives to clone or do you clone one then set the other as the normal one to clone? My mini has nothing on it other then the OS. My 1TB drive as all the music on it.
If you're going to copy two different drives to one backup drive you'll need to partition the backup drive so that it appears to be two separate drives. You can do that with the Disk Utility application that comes with the Mac OS.
Before you start using the backup drive use Disk Utility to create two partitions on it, one the same size as the internal drive of the Mini and the other with all the remaining space.
For instance, if you have a 1 TB drive as your backup and your Mini has a 160 Gb internal drive, create one 160 Gb partition on the backup drive to use as a clone of the Mini's internal drive and another partition that uses all the remaining space on the 1 TB drive. Theoretically that will be 840 Gb but in reality it will be somewhat less than that.
When you start up the backup drive it will show up as two separate drives, one the same size as your Mini's internal drive where you can clone the operating system and a second where you can backup your iTunes drive.
Herman, I fudged the back up number, guessing, my Droboshare right now shows 2.98 TB of capacity, but you are right about the Drobo website. I have not spent $1000 on my Drobo/Droboshare and the 4 1 TB drives. I spent about $750 all in. Not cheap, but with my iTunes pathed there now I don't ever have to think about it, and as SATA drives get bigger I can continue to expand the storage.
I love this thing, after having so many hard drives, both internal and external die on me, and messing with storage and backup systems, this is the best option that I have found bar none.
Also, Drobo is slow?? It's instant, what is slow. I path everything there as a network drive and there it is. I have not wait for anything be it pictures, iTunes, documents, and let me say again, no data loss!!