When does too much of a good thing become, well, too much? Take Mac backup apps. They’re not a dime a dozen, but there are dozens.
And some are cheaper than a dime. The same price as the good ones, and just a few dollars less than the best Mac backup apps. Free does not a great backup app make. Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.
Choose Backup Apps Carefully
Among the dozens of Mac backup apps we review and recommend are a few that stick a graphical user interface on top of Rsync, the Mac’s built-in Unix file synchronization tool.
That’s OK, because Rsync works well enough, and does most of what Mac users may need.
It’s also free (built in to Mac OS X) and tuned to handle the Mac’s somewhat complicated meta data.
Grsync is a free Mac app for file syncs and backups. It’s an attractive user interface to Rsync but uses the GTK+ library (which is included in the app). Therein lies the rub.
Your Mac’s metadata (information attached to each Mac file) can be somewhat cumbersome to duplicate for some Mac backup apps, hence the recommendation to choose wisely.
Why? Check this comparison list of Mac backup apps. The popular Take Control Book on backups ran tests comparing various Mac backup apps, feature by feature, including metadata support.
Our favorites, SuperDuper!, Carbon Copy Cloner, Arq, Backuplist+, and a few others, received a metadata test score of A+. Accurate preservation of metadata may be the most important function of any Mac backup app.
Backup apps that use Rsync, whether the rsync built in to Mac OS X, or a different library version, have to be tuned and updated to capture all Mac file metadata.
So, not all Mac backup apps that utilize Rsync are created equal. Free apps tend to slap a quick graphical user interface onto Rsync and call it a day, without much regard for metadata preservation.
If you have a Mac backup app that you’d like to test, try Backup Bouncer. It’s a geeky Mac app that checks out the metadata details and was used as the comparison tool in the list above.