The Mac360 routine for a discussion on backing up your Mac consists of a little fear mongering. Imagine this scenario. You start up your Mac and nothing happens.
Your Mac’s hard drive is dead, and all your files—music, photos, documents, utilities, applications, movie clips, email, everything—is gone.
What do you do? What’s your backup strategy? Here is half of my strategy for practicing safe Mac.
The need to back up your Mac’s files is in direct proportion to the value of what’s on your Mac. If you have nothing of value on your Mac and the hard drive dies, the solution is easy.
Get another hard drive. See? Easy.
If what’s on your Mac has become the center of your day—email, photos, music, movies, documents—then those files are valuable. It’s not a matter of “if” your Mac’s hard drive fails, but “when” it will fail.
Usually, hard drives fail when you least expect or need it to happen. I’m sure there’s a law of physics that documents the problem more accurately than Murphy’s Law.
File back up strategies area dime a dozen, some better than others, some highly contrived, sophisticated and expensive, others are simple. Almost all back up strategies require an extra hard drive, or files moved to a CD or DVD.
The Mac360 recommendation for years has been to keep it simple, somewhat elegant, flexible, yet inexpensive. Simple enough for any Mac user. Elegant, so it can work automatically to back up files.
Flexible? Sure. The Mac changes, you change, so the back up strategy should not be etched in stone—it should work. And it shouldn’t cost a fortune.
Simple? An extra hard drive, usually an external Firewire or USB hard drive, is more than sufficient to ward off a disastrous hard drive crash. If all you use is the Mac’s Time Machine and a huge extra hard drive, you’re ahead of most users.
Time Machine works, but has flaws. It’s very slow to recover your Mac and get it running again, which is why we recommend that you clone your Mac’s hard drive using a utility such as SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner.
That extra hard drive can start up and run everything just as your Mac did before the main hard drive crashed. Cloning is simple, elegant, flexible, and not expensive.
What’s the downside? Cloning a hard drive takes time, more so as the number of files—music, photos, movies, email, documents—increases in number. Neither utility does a simple, straightforward job of synchronizing files from Mac to Mac across a network.
That’s where ChronoSync adds the extra element of quick, secure, and automatic back ups to your disaster recovery plans.
If your home or office has more than one Mac, there is an advantage in copying, then synchronizing files from one Mac to another. ChronoSync does that and is more flexible than clone utilities.
Yes, you can log your Mac onto another Mac in a network, and simply drag and drop to copy files from one place to the other. That’s not a bad back up. ChronoSync automates the process, gives you more features, and becomes “set it and forget it.”
Simply log on to another Mac or Mac server, double click ChronoSync and walk through the set up routine. Your Mac and files are on the left column, and the other Mac (the back up, file synchronized Mac) is on the other.
It’s here where features are your friends. ChronoSync backs up files, folders, entire Mac volumes, if needed. This is very handy if you need to sync files between a desktop Mac and your Mac notebook. One click can do it.
Importantly, you can easily decide which files to sync and which to ignore with a simple click to Exclude. You can sync files one way, to or from another Mac. Or, sync files both ways, to ensure than any changed files end up on both Macs.
ChronoSync can even archive files instead of delete files that may exist on the back up Mac or hard drive. Just in case.
My favorite feature, of course, is Trial Sync. A single click checks both Macs or hard drives to see which files get copied or deleted or moved. An onscreen list tells you what is to happen before it happens.
My second favorite feature is the Scheduler, which works in a unique way. You can easily set your Mac to automatically logon to another Mac or back up files at a specific time. This feature works great; as close to flawless as any Mac utility I’ve used.
Each back up “document” you create can be stacked in a Container of documents, and perform multiple back ups from Mac to Mac, Mac to hard drive, Mac across a network—one after the other, all automatically.
ChronoSync’s latest version also creates a bootable back up of your Mac’s hard drive to another hard drive which you can use to start up your Mac in case the original hard drive fails.
If you only want a single utility that does more to help your back up strategy than any other, ChronoSync is it. I’ve used it for years on all my Macs, including a bunch of Mac OS X Servers, and found it to be stable, dependable, secure, and friendly.
Friendly? Yes. An important and sophisticated utility is complex. ChronoSync has actually become easier to use with an intuitive layout which will get you set up with a back up routine within minutes, yet give you more features than you can imagine. There’s Rules and Filters but nothing worse than using Apple’s Mail filters.
Do you have a one-click back up strategy in place? Share it with other Mac360 readers in the Comments section below.