How many ways are there to backup your Mac’s files? Backup to another Mac, to a CD or DVD, or an external hard disk drive, or to an online backup service.
Now there’s a way to backup your Mac’s important files using Amazon’s highly touted and inexpensive Simple Storage Service, also known as Amazon S3. What’s the advantage over using traditional Mac backup methods? How does it compare in price to other online services?
Amazon S3 Is Not Free
Amazon S3 prices are competitive, but by no means less expensive than storing files elsewhere online.
The Mac utility that makes the backup process simple and straightforward is called Arq, which is billed as Safe Online Backup.
Amazon S3 uses a thing called buckets to store your files online. Think of a bucket as a Mac folder. Arq will encrypt and copy select folders on your Mac and automatically upload them to Amazon’s servers.
Getting started is easy enough. Point your browser to Amazon S3 and sign up. It’s not expensive and you only get charged for what storage and transfer you use.
You’ll receive an Access Key ID and a Secret Access Key. Think of them as a login ID and a password. Arq will store both in your Mac’s Keychain and you may not need them again. Arq then walks you through a simple set up process.
Preferences are straightforward, too. Set Amazon S3 to a specific budget, either total upload or a dollar amount. Amazon S3 is less expensive as you add data. Arq can be set to upload your files at the maximum transfer rate (which may slow down your Mac’s internet access) or a slower amount.
Select which folders on your Mac that you want to upload to Amazon. Arq will encrypt the files using a single password. Then it works in the background to log into Amazon S3’s servers and upload your files to an Amazon bucket (folder). Restoring a backed up file is drag and drop simple.
Arq Compared to Mozy
The benefits to online backups are obvious. You don’t need an external disk drive. But you do need an internet connection. Arq will trim old backups, and any changes you make to your key folders are automatically made to the Amazon bucket.
How does Arq compare to other online services? There’s good and not so good, but nothing really bad.
For example, among the many online backup services is Mozy, one of the more popular.
While Amazon can give you up to 33 gigabytes of online storage for $4.95 a month, Mozy provides unlimited storage for the same amount (up to 2 gigabytes of storage are provided free). Like Arq, Mozy encrypts your files for security. Mozy and Arq are both automatic. Set it and mostly forget it.
Mozy has additional options and discounts for multi-year sign up. Amazon charges you only for what storage and upload or download you actually use. In my tests, the initial upload speed to Amazon was notably faster than to Mozy. After that, it’s all handled in the background anyway.
Arq is decent (except for the price tag—Mozy’s software is free), especially if you prefer the flexibility of Amazon’s S3 (you can use it manually to store other files, in addition to using Arq).
For the ultimate Mac backup system, check the 4 Steps To The Best Backup Plan For Mac Users.