Think about this scenario. Your Mac has everything on it. Email. Documents. Spreadsheets. All your digital photos. All your iTunes music. There’s graphics and movies. Not to mention 50 different Mac applications that took a whole day to set up.
You turn on your Mac and nothing happens. Now what do you do?
Backing up files and synchronizing files are vitally important to your health. Hard drives die. Often they do so without much warning. One day your Mac works fine, the next day it won’t boot.
What about all those files? All that music? All those photos? Your Quicken database?
If you’re smart, you backup. Either clone the hard drive, or synchronize to another Mac (or hard drive). If you’re real smart, you do both (synchronize and backup are not exactly the same thing). Here are the two best backup and synchronizing applications you can get for a Mac.
First, backup. In this case, “clone” your Mac’s hard drive to another hard disk, preferably an external Firewire hard drive. To do this I use SuperDuper! from Shirt-Pocket Software.
Why SuperDuper! and not one of the 20 other “clone” backup apps for the Mac. First, SuperDuper! works VERY well. Second, the basic clone operation is free, so the price-performance ratio is pretty good.
Finally, there’s more under the hood. SuperDuper! (the registered version) has more features than you’ll need, including an excellent “roll back” which I use when an Apple upgrade goes bad, or an errant application causes problems.
You can set up SuperDuper! to clone in just a couple of clicks. Or, you can get under the hood and turbo-charge SuperDuper! with extra scripts that make it function just as you wish.
Select the Mac you wish to clone. Select the hard drive you wish to clone to. Click and click. Done. Incremental clones can take just a few minutes.
For drive-to-drive clones, I’ve not tested a better, more stable, more dependable application.
Backing up files also might involve “synchronizing” files with another hard drive, another Mac, or a network storage device (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X Server, whatever).
In addition to cloning a Mac (and I do), I also backup files via “synchronizing” from one Mac to another. For that, I use ChronoSync from EconTechnologies.
“What’s ChronoSync missing? Only one thing. A “rollback feature.” So, if something screws up, I can click and roll everything back to just before the screw up.”Why synchronize? Often, I want the same files on multiple machines. Often, I want those files on a server’s extra storage (off site is good).
For that kind of backup, “cloning” isn’t a good idea. All that’s needed is to backup the Documents directory, or perhaps a few other files (preferences, Music, Pictures, Movies).
Sometimes, I don’t want or need to clone from one Mac to another. ChronoSync seems to have been made by the Gods for mere mortals as synchronization (and backups) is easier than ever, yet has more features and capability than I usually need.
First, you want an intuitive interface that gets you synchronizing quickly. That’s ChronoSync. Important files to backup or synchronize to the left, where they’re going to the right. Click.
Biased and blind modes make sure important files get copied to the backup side, even if something changed it (which messes up most synchronization software).
Automatic wake from sleep is a cool touch. My laptop is almost always asleep. ChronoSync wakes it, then does a scheduled sync.
Oh, did I forget to mention “scheduling?” What an oversight. The automatic scheduling feature alone is worth the cost of ChronoSync? Why? For those of us not into cron or at jobs (if you don’t know, don’t ask) an automated sync is perfect.
ChronoSync has a great scheduler that just works perfectly in Mac OS X.
Want more? There’s much more. Email confirmations. Yes. It let’s you know what happened while you were away.
“What’s SuperDuper! missing? Only one thing. An automated scheduling feature so I don’t have to click.”Save deleted files? Can do. Lists conflicts? In a Minnesota minute. Logs everything? Yep.
Filter out certain files and directories and NOT sync those? Yep. Can do. Click, click.
How about backing up or synchronizing files to a Windows server or a Linux server? Can do?
Got certain files you want stored on your iPod? ChronoSync can do it without messing up your music or photos.
Which Mac OS X “cat” are you using? Jaguar? Panther? Tiger (soon)? ChronoSync handles them all.
One of my favorite features is Trial Sync? You know, test out what’ll happen without making it happen. ChronoSync does that, too.
Compare files between one Mac and the backup or synchronized files? Click, click.
Am I making it sound that great? It is. I’ve used about every backup and file sync application ever on the Mac. This is the only one that has all the features that matter to me.
What’s ChronoSync missing? Only one thing. A “rollback feature.” So, if something screws up, I can click and roll everything back to just before the screw up.
Interestingly, that’s available in SuperDuper! What’s SuperDuper! missing? Only one thing. An automated scheduling feature so I don’t have to click.
If your files are important to you, you must backup. The two best applications for backups and file synchronization are SuperDuper! and ChronoSync. Having both and a couple of hard drives or another Mac is inexpensive insurance.