When it comes to Mac backup apps there are plenty to recommend. The Top 4 on my list have similar functions, yet each has a striking difference. Each takes a unique approach to backups, syncs, and clones.
One does synchronizations with more features than Sarah Palin has hubris or Fox News has bias. Another does free bootable clone backups. A third is drop dead easy to use. The fourth invokes unique technology.
Which is better? Which is best?
Any Backup Is Better Than No Backup
The thing to understand about backing up files on your Mac is that any backup that works is better than no backup at all. Even if all you do is copy files from your Mac to a DVD or flash drive or external USB hard drive, you’re doing yourself well.
Among the premier, non-enterprise backup apps, I have a small list.
Each of these apps will do each of the three basic backup functions.
The first is the bootable clone—a complete, file for file clone of your Mac’s hard disk drive which can be used to start up your Mac (or any other compatible Mac) in the event of a disk failure.
The second is the file backup—the process of copying valuable files from your Mac to another location (another Mac, another hard disk drive, a DVD, or across a network).
The third is file synchronization—the process of synchronizing files and folders from one Mac to another, one device to another, so whenever changes are made to one, they show up on the other.
The Top 4 Backup, Sync, And Clone
There are a couple of dozen Mac apps that will do all three functions with ease, and with varying price tags (from free to expensive enterprise apps). These four so good I’d recommend them to family and friends.
SuperDuper! – If you’re after a perfect clone of your Mac, an external disk drive you can use to startup your Mac when its hard disk drive fails, SuperDuper! is an excellent choice.
It’s perfect for Mac newbies and experience users. Basic options are minimal. Choose your Mac as From, choose another hard disk drive as To. Select a couple of basic options, set the schedule, let SuperDuper! give a perfect, bootable clone.
What could be easier? Not much. The first cloned backup may take an hour or two, depending on the number of files to clone, but subsequent clones are much faster via incremental copying.
Synchronizing specific folders and files between Macs or between your Mac and another device requires more consideration, more clicks, more effort, and gives you fewer options.
Synk Pro – Clones are one thing, but backups and syncs are something else. Synk Pro is an app to like. Not only will it clone your Mac’s hard disk drive, it will also sync back and forth between multiple Macs and devices.
Synk Pro has plenty of easy-to-digest bells and whistles, but isn’t scary to use. Each backup or sync setup can be saved and reused. Action rules and Archive rules abound, as do Safeguards, so Synk Pro can appear complicated in places.
My favorite option—beyond the Schedule and N-way syncs—is the ZeroScan. Synk Pro checks your Mac’s files in the background. When you make a change, it notes the change, saves it in a list, and when a backup or sync is invoked, only those files on the list are copied. That makes backups, syncs, and clones blazingly fast compared to other apps.
ChronoSync – The specialty for ChronoSync is synchronization between Macs and storage devices, and options. This is not an app for the beginner, newbie, or faint of heart.
ChronoSync starts off with a familiar and easy-to-use Left Target and Right Target metaphor. Select the Mac, or hard disk drive, or folders you want to sync or clone, select the Operation from the menu, and you’re done.
Almost. ChronoSync can be scheduled to copy, clone or sync, and comes with more features than Fox News has bias. Bootable clones take longer to create than SuperDuper!, but the synchronize options are to die for.
ChronoSync also has an extensive filtering and rules setup, and notifications of completion or problems come via email and other options. If you want to tinker, or if you can only afford a single multi-use backup app, this might be the one.
Carbon Copy Cloner – If you’re on a budget and still need a solid backup app, Carbon Copy Cloner makes a solid, dependable choice. It’s free. Rather, CCC is donationware.
The four basic functions are covered in CCC. Cloning your Mac to another hard disk drive. Synchronizing files from your Mac to another Mac or another disk. Backing up files from your Mac to another destination. And scheduling backups to occur whenever your choose.
In effect, CCC works in a manner similar to SupeDuper! Options are minimal. Specific settings can be saved as a Task and run according to a schedule. Specific files and folders can be deleted or including in the sync or backup. A backup and include everything on your Mac, specific files or folders, or set up as an incremental backup of only those files that have changed since the last backup.
Compared to ChronoSync or Synk Pro, CCC takes the simple route, and is devoid of esoteric functions, rules, filters, and settings.
The Verdict: A Hung Jury
All four of these Mac apps are worthy of your attention and use. Carbon Copy Cloner makes superb clones, does incremental backups, is easy to set up and use, and is free.
SuperDuper! works in a similar manner with virtually perfect clones of your Mac’s hard disk drive.
Features are minimal, but backups and synchronization efforts, as with CCC, fall short.
ChronoSync may be the best option if all you can have is a single option and you need every bell and whistle imaginable. It’s also the most complex of the four.
Synk Pro is both friendly and feature laden. It does clones, backups, syncs, and schedules, but it also does N-way backups, and the ZeroScan function makes incremental backups the fastest of the four.
The verdict? It’s a hung jury. Any one of the four is a good choice, depending on your specific backup needs.