Here’s the deal. You wake up in the morning, sit down in front of your Mac to check email and visit a few news sites. The Mac won’t turn on. It’s dead. It’s deader than dead. Nothing on the screen. No startup chime. Your Mac and everything on it has died. What do you do?
Panic Or Inconvenience?
That’s about it, right? Either, 1) Panic mode; oh my God! All my files, photos, movie clips, music are gone and not retrievable. Or, 2) Inconvenience but not to worry, I’m safe. Which of the two scenarios describes your backup situation? If you panic, then your backup system needs some work. If a lost Mac, iPhone, or iPad is a mere inconvenience, you’re on the right backup track.
Why do I describe my mother of all backup plans as a Mac backup plan? Steve Jobs once described the Mac as the digital hub. For most Mac users, it still is; especially if you have iPhones and iPads.
Here’s the mother of all Mac backup plans.
iTunes – As much as I disdain iTunes, I use iTunes to backup the family’s iPhones and iPads. To a Mac. iCloud helps, yes, but there’s nothing like a couple of clicks to restore your iPhone or iPad settings, apps, and everything else to a new or newly repaired device. iTunes as a backup might be quaint and outmoded in the day of cloud storage services, but it works.
iCloud – We can argue until the cows come home as to which cloud service is the best and there are many. But iCloud starts out free, it’s somewhat competitive on price, more Mac, iPhone, and iPad apps use iCloud, and even iCloud itself keeps backups, so losing a device to theft or catastrophic event means settings come back to normal within minutes; Mac, iPhone or iPad
Cloned Mac – The value of the Mac as the center of the digital hub means a cloned Mac disk drive clones backups of iPhone and iPad, too. This backup requires an external disk drive, but that’s a small price to pay for that moment in the space time continuum when everything on your device disappears. The value of the clone should be obvious. Use it to connect to any nearly new Mac and and you’re back up and running in minutes, not hours or days.
Time Machine – I’m not a fan, but it’s a cheap extra layer of backup protection. Time Machine is good for getting to files you may have deleted, but the restore function pales in significance to SuperDuper!, Carbon Copy Cloner, ChronoSync, or GetBackup.
Using all the above backup methods gets you into safe territory but something is missing? Can you spot it?
All those storage methods are in your home or office, and all but iCloud are connected to your Mac. What happens if the catastrophic event is hurricane, tornado, fire, flood, or theft? iCloud helps with basic settings, but not files. How can you make a safe backup that isn’t in your home?
Online backup systems are growing in number. They’re slow to set up, usually incur a monthly expensive, and restoring files can be a slow process, too. Here’s what I use.
Arq And Amazon – Arq is the app. Amazon is Amazon’s Simple Storage Service, or Amazon S3 for short. Arq is a Mac app that resides in the background and syncs files from your Mac to an Amazon S3 account, but also Amazon CloudDrive, Google Drive, Google Cloud, Microsoft OneDrive, and even Dropbox. Arq stores critical files offline, away from harm at home or office. There’s much to like there, including easy restore and encryption, but it’s merely another link in a long chain toward the mother of all backup plans.