A backup, regardless of the type, is merely a copy of files or folders, usually stored on a second disk drive, or stored online, or on removable media. A sync of files and folders attempts to keep files the same on a copy as the original. If all you want is a quick sync of critical files, here’s an easy, inexpensive way.
Sync This Way, Not That Way
My basic backup routine is simple. Apple’s TimeMachine. SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner bootable backups. Critical files– usually files in the Documents folder– stored on multiple Macs or on a remote server– often synced up by ChronoSync.
Those are great solutions but none of them come cheap so if you’re on a budget and prefer simplicity and safety it’s hard to beat the aptly named OneWaySync app for your Mac.
As the app’s name implies, OneWaySync syncs files and folders from your Mac to another location, either on your Mac or on another Mac, or a connected storage device like an external disk drive. The major benefit with OneWaySync is that, well, it’s one way. The source files and folders are never changed, but any changes or updates are mirrored to the backup files (a perfect way to keep the Documents folder synchronized between a desktop Mac and a notebook Mac.
As simple as OneWaySync can be to use, it’s not short of useful bells and whistles. Auto Start lets the sync begin with the app starts. You can choose to copy (or not) hidden files and folders. There’s also an option to Write Log, which gives you a detailed log of every sync or copy.
You can delete files from the destination copy, or choose to leave them for archive purposes (can get cluttered). OneWaySync also syncs up the iPhoto or Photos library from your Mac to another device.
No decent sync or backup app is complete without a little built-in automation and OneWaySync complies with a somewhat geeky way to schedule syncs by using Calendar (once you learn how to schedule app events in Calendar you can call yourself ‘geeky’).
Using OneWaySync is straightforward and uncomplicated. Select the source files or folders you want to sync, then select a destination for the sync. The first sync– going only from source to destination– will take longer than subsequent syncs where only changed files get synchronized.
Synced files provide for a convenient and easy backup and OneWaySync makes it about as fast, easy, and inexpensive as it can get, though my preference for backups has always been to make a bootable clone.