Despite our love for the very best Mac software, there are alternatives that will do the job quite well and priced to love. As in “free.”
Backing up your Mac’s files should be easy and painless. iBackup makes it so. Mostly. Backups are never really easy or painless.
Mac360’s favorite Mac backup utility is SuperDuper! It clones one hard drive to another, which gives you a perfectly replicated Mac on another hard drive. That works, right?
Mostly. If you have a corrupt file and you backup your Mac to a cloned hard drive, you also backup the corrupt file. That problem is what makes OS X Leopard’s upcoming Time Machine so attractive.
Time Machine tracks different versions of the changed file, so, ostensibly, you should be able to back up and find a good, non-corrupt file, to replace the file that was corrupt or lost. We’ll see. Those 750 gigabyte hard drives are not looking so huge, are they?
The iMac launched the “i” in everything Apple so it’s only fitting that Mac software developers follow suit and name everything iThis or iThat. Backup utilities, too? iYes. Try iBackup. It’s free.
What you get is a straightforward Mac utility that creates backups of files, folders, and applications on your Mac. iBackup even saves various settings from system preferences, iCal, iTunes, iWork, Keychains, Mail, Safari, Widgets, and other locations using a simple plug-in feature.
To help you avoid the problem of cloning a corrupt file, iBack features the ability to create different sets of backups, called profiles. Make as many of those as you need. Each profile can have a different option.
Remember, iBackup is free, so it may not have all the bells and whistles of some commercial backup utilities. For example, SuperDuper! makes a perfect clone of your files, one hard drive to another. Most backup software just copies files which sometimes modifies permissions, and doesn’t keep meta data intact.
Still, iBackup lets you create Smart Folders, connects to Mac servers or SMB servers, and will archive files along the way, but not burn files to a CD or DVD—only to other hard drives. There are some things iBack doesn’t do. No incremental backups.
The strength of iBackup is in the basics. The profiles which let you choose what gets backed up to where. And, the scheduler, which can be attached to any profile. The only real issue, common to most Mac file backup utilities, is that corrupted files get backed up overwriting a good file.
Handy, too, is iBackups logging of a backup. You get that sent to you via email, if you wish. For the geekier among us, iBack also lets you runs scripts either before or after a scheduled backup.
In my tests of iBackup we didn’t find a major gotcha. The interface is simple and understandable, especially when setting up Profiles and Schedules.
Did I mention that iBackup is free? Only for the personal version. Commercial users need to pay for a license. If your Mac’s files are critical to your operation, then look for a more comprehensive backup solution with fail safe built in. For casual use, iBackup works fine.