Yes, it’s Friday; I know you’re busy with shopping and getting ready for the holidays, so I’ll keep it simple on what sometimes can be a stupidly complex problem.
Backups. Apple makes it easy to backup an iPhone and iPad to iCloud, but all Mac users get is Time Machine, not exactly the best way to get your Mac back up and running after a catastrophic failure.
Based on my unofficial but highly scientific personal survey of family members, nearby neighbors, friendly co-workers, and longtime Mac loving friends, Apple’s Mac customers can be busted down into three basic groups of users.
#1 – the Mac user without a backup plan. Nothing. If the Mac dies, everything on it is dead, too; photos, movies, app data, Documents, and whatever else was valuable.
#2 – the Mac user with a single-point-of-failure backup plan called Time Machine. Apple’s free backup app is next to nothing– literally– and might do the deed of eventually fixing catastrophic hardware or software failures, but nothing is more cumbersome and problematic (other than #1).
#3 – the Mac user with a serious plan to protect files at home or office, and online. This Mac user knows that a single-point-of-failure is bad news, and keeping all files in one location is just as bad. This Mac user is the one to emulate and you don’t need much to get there.
Here is a quick list of my favorite Mac utilities to keep a good Mac backup system working with ease. Nathan and I have worked at a private Chicago-area school for nearly 20 years (each) and that means we’ve gone through many backup systems for Mac, Windows, iPhone, and iPad, plus a few Linux servers, so we recommend what we use and what works.
SuperDuper! – this great app has been around since the early days of Mac360, and the website still smacks of 1999, but if what you want is a perfectly easy and accurate backup, SuperDuper! does the deed. I recommend it first on the list because it is the easiest to setup and clone a Mac’s disk drive or SSD to an external disk drive or SSD– the best way to create a backup that can be used if your Mac dies (has a built-in scheduler, too). One price, use it forever.
Carbon Copy Cloner – if you need more features, start with Carbon Copy Cloner. We’ve used it since back in the days where it was free, and though the interface is a bit more complicated and it has more features, the clones are perfect, too, and it has a scheduler and other features; even a notification email on each backup. Gets upgraded frequently and that raises the price.
ChronoSync – this is a favorite because it does far more than clone a Mac’s disk drive. ChronoSync is a favorite among Mac geeks because it can sync files between devices, creates bootable clones of a Mac, backs up specific files and folders, and has an easy scheduler.
Get Backup Pro – this is a backup utility I recommend to Mac newbies because the interface is straightforward and instantly usable; Get Backup Pro makes clones, encrypted backups, syncs folders, and is priced right. Plus, it comes from a famous Mac app developer and gets updated frequently.
Is that it? No.
A good Mac backup plan also requires multiple backups in different locations; home or office, and somewhere online. The Mac doesn’t have the same kind of thorough iCloud backup as iPhone or iPad, but you can get there with apps above and an online sync, either through Blaze or ARQ and AWS.
If your files– photos, music, videos, and Documents– are valuable to you, then determine how you’d feel if your Mac goes dead and everything on it is lost. If it’s a minor inconvenience, then your backup plan is good. If it’s panic, then you need one of the solutions above.