Every Mac should have a clone backup. What surprises me more about personal computing these days is how few Mac or Windows PC users I know actually have a backup system in place. Hello? Murphy’s Law.
Wait. Doesn’t iCloud take care of the backup process? Time Machine, too, right? Uh, no. Not really. iCloud won’t restore your Mac. Time Machine has a checkered history of reliability (as in, it can be unreliable and very slow to restore). The fastest, easiest, least expensive way to backup a Mac is a clone.
Send In The Clones
With apologies to Judy Collins, and deference to Crosby, Stills, & Nash, clones are where it’s at. I use two. I’m paranoid. But I haven’t lost a file since the last century and any Mac that’s gone wonky gets back up and running in minutes.
Clone apps for the Mac do what you think they do. Add an external disk drive to your Mac. USB or Thunderbolt 3. Open the clone app and clone your Mac to the external disk. It may take an hour or two for the first clone, but subsequent clones take minutes as only files that have changed need to be cloned again.
What does a bootable clone do? Nothing. It sits there. Waiting. But on a Mac, an external cloned disk drive can be used if the disk in your Mac gets wonky or dies. The clone can boot up on nearly any Mac so in an emergency, following a catastrophic event, you can be up and running again in minutes. It’s that easy. If the Mac’s disk drive dies and you get it replaced, the clone can clone itself back to the Mac’s new disk drive. Yes, it’s that easy.
SuperDuper! will clone a Mac for free, but it’s a full clone each time, not incremental unless you buy the app. SD! is simple to setup and use. It has a built in scheduler and plenty of additional but somewhat geeky features. I use it to backup each of my Macs to an external disk drive.
Carbon Copy Cloner has more visible features, but also a scheduler, and an email notification system built in. As with SD, CCC is mostly a set it and forget deal. Both apps get upgraded regularly, though I’ve never had to pay an upgrade fee for SD, but CCC has an upgrade price tag every couple of years.
Few would argue that one is much better than the other. What if you’re on a budget but need more features? For that, I recommend ChronoSync. If I could have only a single backup and sync tool for my Macs, this is it.
ChronoSync is feature packed but not for the faint of heart. It does bootable clones similar to SD and CCC but the real strength is backup and syncs to other devices on a network.
Get Backup Pro is for Mac users who want features at a modest price but don’t want complexity. This is as good as point and click gets. A scheduler is built in, too, but it also syncs or backs up files to CDs, DVDs, network volumes, and external disks. Get Backup Pro is the least expensive of the four backup apps I recommend.
All four come with a try-before-you-buy option, but regardless of which you choose, just make sure you have a backup in place because Murphy’s Law.