It is time for Apple to retire Time Machine. Alright. I get it. Any Mac backup system is better than no backup system, but the first one beyond nothing is Time Machine. That makes it close to nothing.
Time Machine still requires an extra disk drive, so if you’re going to the trouble of adding another storage device, there are better alternatives than Time Machine. Clones. That’s right. You can clone your Mac’s disk drive. Yet, there are even better backup systems.
Go Crazy, Folks
When co-workers, neighbors, friends, or family members ask about a way to backup their Macs, I try not to scare them with my personal and family backup system. We use everything. Well, almost everything. Multiple cloned Macs on external disk via Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! Valuable files get backed up on each Mac. Photos, Desktop, and Documents files are backed up, too, of course, but also backed up via iCloud, Dropbox, and Amazon S3.
We Mincey folk are paranoid about losing files, and that’s where Time Machine comes in. Apple’s backup system is only good for retrieving files that have changed recently– not something easily handled by other backup systems. So, yes, we use Time Machine for each Mac.
How do you clone a Mac? Get an external disk drive. Get SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner or ChronoSync or GetBackupPro, and then consider Arq to get your Mac’s important files out of the house. Yes, Dropbox and iCloud are alternatives, too.
Yes, using all those backup options takes time to setup and manage, but all can be scheduled to run automagically so the only real issue is the number of external disk drives you can afford and how they connect to your Mac.
What’s missing in Mac backup?
iCloud backup. As in, iCloud backup done the iPhone and iPad way.
It isn’t likely that Apple will do for the Mac what it does for iOS and iPadOS users, but it can be much closer than it is. Apple’s iCloud backup only handles the basics. Photos, Documents, Desktop files. Not apps. While a clone makes it drop dead easy to recover from a storage catastrophe within minutes, even iCloud for iPhone and iPad takes awhile but the restore system also restores apps.
If all you use to back up your Mac is Time Machine, just remember that the first option to backup after nothing is Time Machine, and that makes it next to nothing. Time Machine is a better way to retrieve recently discarded or older versions of files, but a complete restore can take many hours and remains as problematic as ever, while a cloned Mac hard disk can get you up and running in minutes, and it’s easy to test.