My SSD transition is complete

About a decade ago, SSD boot drives changed computing more than any other single tech had in years, or has since: extremely fast, quiet, small, and reliable compared to spinning platter drives. They made our computers feel almost snappy again, at a time when incremental improvements in CPU oomph had become underwhelming (and GUIs were at their most lavish/bloated, “peak chrome”). They were expensive, of course, and the roll-out felt gradual at the time, but by 2012 or so most power users "suddenly" had an SSD boot drive.

Almost a decade later, I am now finally using SSDs for everything I regularly need storage for — including my entire, sprawling backup strategy. The final piece was this cheerfully coloured new pair of high capacity Samsung T7 SSDs for backups, 2 terabytes each and zippy even by modern SSD standards:

My iMac is cloned to each of them once per day — full bootable clones, with read/write speeds so fast over USB 3.2 that I can run the iMac from them almost as smoothly as I can from the built-in. Each one also has a history of clone snapshots reaching back many weeks, a great feature made possible by APFS (Apple File System) and Carbon Copy Cloner. The snapshots, by nature, require storage space only for their differences, so a 2TB drive can hold many snapshots. The snapshot history functions roughly like Apple’s Time Machine, delivering significantly more bang-for-backup-buck than clones alone (see “Leveraging Snapshots on APFS Volumes”). But I also have a 1TB SSD for an independent Time Machine backup, because you really cannot backup enough.

And I also have a pair of 1TB SSDs, one of them always offsite, and rotated once between my home and office every few days. Physical offsite backup are another kind important insurance, the only thing. I carry those devices back and forth, and they weigh only about twenty-five grams, scarcely more than a thumb drive… compared to hundreds of grams for the bare platter drives I used for years. That weight difference actually matters! Which is some weird psychology, because I don’t actually have any conscious objection to carrying the extra weight. But in practice I am much more willing to actually put the SSDs in my bag regularly. It is literally easier, I guess. It certainly feels “nicer,” somehow!