My Backup Dilemma

Like most tech-savvy families out there, my family has an abundance of digital audio, video, and photo files on our computers. Early on, I decided that my Power Mac G4 should be our digital hub, and all of our files are stored on that computer. This does cause a bit of a problem for me as far as storage space goes. I’ve replaced the hard drive before, and it’s about time to add a larger drive again. I don’t mind replacing my drive from time to time because it is relatively easy to clone a drive. My biggest problem is with my backup drive.

A couple years ago, I went with Apple’s Backup as my backup solution. It is incredibly easy to use and basically runs all by itself without any interaction from me as long as my external drive is powered on. I bought a drive that was twice as big as my Mac hard drive so I wouldn’t run out of space, but a couple weeks ago, something interesting happened. I ran out of space on my backup hard drive. It seems that over time, the incremental weekly backups had been so large that they had filled the entire drive. To resolve the issue, I deleted my backup files and ran a full backup that fit very easily on the drive. My biggest question is if a full backup fits so easily on my drive, why are the incremental backup files so large?

When Mac OS X Leopard comes out later this year, one of its features will be a backup solution called Time Machine. It will automatically backup every file on your system, and you can basically go back in time to find the version of a file that you need. This sounds like a great new feature, but how large will the backup hard drive have to be in comparison to the Mac hard drive? If my experience with Backup is any indication, it’s going to have to be huge, but I am going to withhold judgment until Leopard hits the streets.