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Backup Solutions for Mac OS X? 125

Posted by Cliff
from the software-insurance-policies dept.
SpartanVII asks: "I purchased a Mac roughly two years ago and have made the switch with a fair amount of ease. However, one thing that has troubled me is how best to backup my important data to an external hard drive. Right now, I have rigged up an Automator workflow that runs every night, but I have also seen software options like SuperDuper and Knox. Since the Automator workflow lacks much of the flexibility and features available with these apps, I am ready to try something else. What app have you come across that provides the best backup solution?"
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Backup Solutions for Mac OS X?

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  • by dbc (135354) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @03:55AM (#17266648)
    it's unix. except that cron isn't useful on a system that sleeps, and launchd is badly broken in several painful ways. anacron is supposed to be good, but i haven't looked into it.
    • by AccUser (191555)
      launchd is badly broken in several painful ways

      How so?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kidordinn (1034942)
      I've used SuperDuper! for the past two years and I'm very happy with it. SuperDuper! is truly a no-brainer: it checks and fixes file permissions and makes the backup disk bootable. That last function saved me when my iMac internal drive drive died. I lost only a few hours of work and I was able to run my iMac on the backup drive until Apple shipped me a replacement unit. Then it was even very easy to copy all my OS and data back to the new internal drive. SuperDuper! is the best way to protect your work an
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Burz (138833)
      If his system is 2 yrs old, it could be Panther. That means using rsyncX instead of rsync; it's what I use. If you want snapshot-like backups from rsync, then use rsnapshot (it uses rsync, so on a pre-10.4 system you'll need to replace rsync with the rsyncX version).

      If Leopard is on the horizon, then just use the Timewarp(?) snapshot tool built into the OS.

      If you want a full image backup done efficiently, then CCC (Carbon Copy Cloner) is the free GUI tool of choice.

      Other great options: DAR, rdiff-backup, Un
    • find -d /Users/me | cpio -dpl mybackup

      This makes a zero space snapshop of me. preserves everything except permissions. This is not a backup it's a snapshot. do the backup with rsync. then take a snapshot.

      I sometimes use rdiffbackup too
      • by rthille (8526)
        Learn something new every day... I've been working with Unix for about 20 years and haven't really used cpio much. That cpio command will work nicely for me for mirroring my image files into the chroot my webserver runs in...
  • backups (Score:2, Informative)

    by nelomolen (128271)
    I use RsyncX (http://archive.macosxlabs.org/rsyncx/rsyncx.html) on the OSX server (10.3) in a lab I do some work in. It works well, and you can just set up cron jobs. Last I checked, the Rsync that comes with OSX wouldn't handle resource forks, which is why a third-party app is necessary. This may be fixed in newer versions of OSX, but since the lab isn't upgrading until 10.5 is released I have no experience with 10.4.
    • 10.4 rsync has
      -E --extended-attributes copy extended attributes, resource forks
      • by nelomolen (128271)
        Thanks, that's good to know. At least when we make the upgrade I won't need to install extra software. Er, as much extra software.
    • I use plain rsync from the std installation, without the -E option. On the Xserve at work I only backup ASCII text files, so it doesn't matter. However, even on my home Macs it looks like all types of files I tried, backed up with rsync sans resource fork, can be recovered. These include Photoshop, AppleWorks, Office, etc.
      Am I being over-confident?

      Using the -E option with "Apple's" rsync is a bit of a pain because the resource fork dates change all the time even if the file is not accessed.
  • rdiff-backup (Score:3, Informative)

    by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday December 16, 2006 @04:04AM (#17266690) Homepage Journal

    rdiff-backup creates and maintains a copy of not only the current data but also keeps reverse diffs so you can recover old versions too. You can backup to another hard driver or directory, or over a network. For remote backups, it uses the rsync protocol so it only transmits changes.

    It's a command-line tool, so it's not very OSX'y, but it works very, very well. I use it to back up all of my machines, including some remote servers. I do it all with cron jobs, and all over network links, because that way I can just ignore it, but you can also run it manually if you prefer.

  • SuperDuper! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by coffee_bouzu (1037062) *
    I'm a big fan of SuperDuper! since it's trivial to use, does incremental backups and you don't have to worry about missing files or applications if you mirror your entire hard drive.

    If you have a firewire external hard drive, you can have SuperDuper! backup your computer's drive to it and if you should ever want to step back to your last backup or lose your laptop's hard drive, all you have to do is plug in the external drive, press option while you are starting up your mac, boot from the external drive, ru
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by piojo (995934)
      SuperDuper! is for people that don't want to take the time to mess with shellscripts and cronjobs and such. Back up everything with almost no options and nothing to screw up. If you wanted to muck around with shellscript and rsync backup solutions, you probably wouldn't be asking here. I installed SuperDuper for my boss and did a couple backups for her (never had to restore), and it seems like a wonderful piece of software.
      • by pboulang (16954)
        SuperDuper! is for people that realize that reinventing the wheel is bad use of their time. Though with time machine Jaguar(OS X 10.5), it will become obsolete. Rsync is still quite viable in remote mirroring, though.
        • by eschasi (252157)
          Not. If your primary fs is totally borked, time machine is no help. I'm not a SuperDuper user myself, but from the descriptions given here it's clear that it makes a backup onto a second disk that is a bootable copy of your primary as of the last sync.
          • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Not. If your primary fs is totally borked, time machine is no help.

            All you have to do is reinstall Leopard on the primary drive and plug in your old Time Machine drive during the installation when it asks. Not the same as a bootable clone, but clearly a step up.
          • by pboulang (16954)
            I'm not sure that time machine wouldn't do the same thing. It is a pretty motivating feature to include. I guess we'll find out on release. Until then, I have zero qualms about paying for superduper! as a stopgap. Cheap, effective, straightforward.
  • I'd rather not use a backup solution "for Mac OS X". Instead, I'd use a solution that works on multiple platforms. The main argument for this is that I can still use the solution and access my old backups when I decide to switch platforms (and, consequently, that the backup solution isn't an impediment to switching). I also have the feeling that if software is used and maintained on multiple platforms, there is a lesser chance of it just being end-of-lifed one day than if the software is just for one platfo
    • by billsoxs (637329)
      So what DO you use? I agree with what you are saying but.....
      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        ``So what DO you use? I agree with what you are saying but.....''

        Well, gnutella is portable...
      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        ``So what DO you use? I agree with what you are saying but.....''

        For now, rsync and a couple of scripts. I regularly sync the important parts of my home directory between 3 different machines. Soon, I will add a fourth, off-site one. I don't bother backing up anything outside my home directory, as I can get all that with apt-get. Perhaps one day I will make a couple of files containing a list of packages I have installed.

        I've looked at a couple of dedicated backup solutions, but, so far, the conclusion has
        • by Burz (138833)
          If you don't opt for Subversion, consider the rsync-like tool Unison. It can synchronize both-ways at once and their site has tips for syncing 3+ machines.

          Will unison behave correctly if used transitively? That is, if I synchronize both between host1:dir and host2:dir and between host2:dir and host3:dir at different times? Are there any problems if the "connectivity graph" has loops?

          This mode of usage will work fine. As far as each "host pair" is concerned, filesystem updates made by Unison when synchroniz

          • by billsoxs (637329)
            Thanks - I have gone and looked them up. I'll try them out when I get back to the US.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by knappe duivel (914316)
      Most backup programs just copy the files, so you are in no way tight to, or dependant on such program. I do avoid programs like Retrospect, which compress the backups, forcing you to also use the program for restoring of browsing your backup data.
    • Instead, I'd use a solution that works on multiple platforms.

      That's one of the reasons why I prefer [Symantec] VERITAS NetBackup Enterprise Server — running on a Sun E450 with Solaris 9 — as my personal backup solution. Its native format is tar, so I should never have any problems with data retrieval, regardless of whether or not I have access to that particular app.

      Well, there's that, and my great love of overkill. It's akin to using an interocitor [wikipedia.org] to make popcorn.

    • by Burz (138833)
      The good cross-platform tools IMO are rsync (rsyncX for pre-10.4 systems), rsnapshot, DAR, rdiff-backup, Unison.

      Here is my script for rsyncX that handles resource forks- Note the list of excludes you can edit starting with /afs:

      #!/bin/bash

      sudo time rsync -vaxHS --delete --eahfs --showtogo \
      --exclude-from=- /. /Volumes/destinationdrive <<- _END_
      /afs/*
      /private/tmp/*
      /private/var/vm/swa pfile*
      /private/var/run/*
      /Network/*
      /Library/C aches/*
      /.Trashes
      _END_

  • Retrospect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrGHemp (189288) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @04:29AM (#17266812) Homepage
    http://www.emcinsignia.com/ [emcinsignia.com]

    We use it to back up our web and database servers. The high end products might be over kill but the Express version might do you right. Retrospect will compress the data to save drive space, and it allows you to restore via a date of your choice. Lots of scheduling and etc options. Works like a champ.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      We have been using Retrospect Server on Mac OS X Server for a couple of years to backup both Mac OS X, Linux workstations and servers. We've generall had a very hard time with the software.

      - seemingly random instances of Retrospect grabbing all available CPU time (when no backup is active) and continuing to suck CPU time until the application is force-quit. Other people seem to be struggling with this as well (google for Retrospect LaunchCFMA)

      - Retrospect recognizing our tape auto-loader but not the tape
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Thanks AC. I am not imagining things at work. The OS X Retrospect Servers even 6.1 need to be constantly looked at. I find them stuck on clients and yes the high CPU load is just silly (even tried some much better mac hardware and yep it is still there).

        The reports are so silly I've rigged up a system to use a database to load them into that I can query..

        I have no problem with any restores, just silly stuff such as Net Retrys and having to reinstall Retrospect Clients.

        On the other hard the Windows version 7
    • by drerwk (695572)
      I too use Retrospect. I've used it sine '92, and it has saved me a number of times. But I liked the Dantz folks quite a bit - very helpful. What I've seen listed here in the way of problems is troubling, and I have not had to deal with the new owners yet. I like that I can run a Retrospect client on my laptop and linux box so that all my systems get backed up to an external disk. $.02
    • Can I add my vote for Retrospect. I've used it for more than 6 years and it has always worked fantastically for me. If you want a solid commercial solution, I would go with Retrospect. Also I really like the single file backup. External HD space is so cheap nowadays and we have found that to be a very successful method for us.
  • Although it is on the expensive end of the backup software scale, Synchronize Pro X [qdea.com] is extremely versatile and has saved my bacon through a series of drive failures (that resulted in Apple replacing my PowerBook). I currently have it running 4 different scheduled backups on my system and have another backup set up that activates when I attach a certain thumb drive: it syncs a selected group of folders to the thumb drive and then unmounts the drive automatically. Plug, sync, unplug--very cool.
  • by perlionex (703104) * <joseph@ganfamily.COBOLcom minus language> on Saturday December 16, 2006 @04:58AM (#17266934) Homepage
    I use rsnapshot [rsnapshot.org]. It's written in Perl, and uses rsync, so it should work on Mac OS X as well as it does on my Linux box. It's pretty configurable, and rotates backups hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, etc. It uses filesystem hardlinks to do incremental backups.
    • by kchrist (938224)
      I'll second this. rsnapshot [rsnapshot.org] can be installed via Darwinports [opendarwin.org] (or manually; it's only two files:, a Perl script and a config file) and works beautifully on OS X.

      I've written up an rsnapshot on OS X howto [inmostlight.org] as well as an overview of my own backup system [inmostlight.org].

      I'm now using an external Firewire drive for my backups (the above hasn't been update to reflect this yet) and have written a wrapper script for rsnapshot that mounts the drive before running and unmounts it after. I'll be updating the article soon with details.
  • by Fulkkari (603331) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @05:11AM (#17266996)

    I don't know about right now, but once Leopard comes out, I guess it would be Time Machine [apple.com]. Just wait until it starts shipping in the beginning of the next year.

    If you don't want to wait or upgrade, write a shell script doing the job for you. I don't know what kind of experiences others have had with backup tools on the Mac, but Retrospect kept crashing on me when trying to run it. I wouldn't trust that kind of software to keep track of my backups. So I guess it's pretty much shell scripts or nothing right now.

    • by dangitman (862676)

      I don't know about right now, but once Leopard comes out, I guess it would be Time Machine. Just wait until it starts shipping in the beginning of the next year.

      I'd advise against doing this. Backup solutions should really be time-tested and proven. I would not adopt a newly-released backup solution. Especially one from Apple. As much as I love Apple software, their existing backup software, "Backup" is an absolute disaster. Given this track record, I see no reason to trust Time Machine.

      I currently use Retrospect, but recent versions haven't been too impressive either. I'd take the recommendations of checking out Super Duper and perhaps Carbon Copy Cloner. I've u

      • by Yvan256 (722131)
        Except that for most people, an unknown backup method is better than no backup at all, which is the point of Time Machine.

        Me? I'm sticking with monthly backups to CD-Rs. Time Machine will simply add a daily fallback.
        • by dangitman (862676)

          Except that for most people, an unknown backup method is better than no backup at all, which is the point of Time Machine.

          I think there are some users [nslog.com] of Apple's Backup who would disagree... [rentzsch.com]

          • by Yvan256 (722131)
            My point was that Time Machine should be better than no backup at all. I never talked about Apple's current backup software.

      • How about Amanda? I've deployed it in many organizations for years. Just reconfigured one installation from DAT to a virtual tape (disk) config on a RAID array of SATA drives, with archival secondary writing to DLT tapes. That installation backs up about 20 servers.

        Larry

        • by dangitman (862676)
          Hmmm, haven't heard of it. Linky?

          I'm mainly considering NetVault because it was recommended by our Xserve vendor, and they said they could support it. But it's a tough decision, because a backup solution has to work flawlessly for years. And it's not easy to find people with experience in some of these Mac solutions apart from Retrospect.

    • by Coppit (2441)

      What I'm thinking about is using Amazon's S3 service [slashdot.org] along with JungleDisk [jungledisk.com] to get a cheap online, reliable, unlimited virtual drive for Time Machine to store its backups on. I just hope that Time Machine is smart enough to queue up its transactions when the network storage is not available. I also wonder what the performance will be like.

      Things are moving fast in this space. I'd love to see a general online storage solution with WebDAV support, something like Gallery2 or Flickr built-in, permissions manag

  • I just got a drive the same size as my internal hdd, and setup a scheduled clone of my drive, not as elegant, but if my drive dies, I just swap the new one in, and its like it never even died.
  • Required reading (Score:4, Informative)

    by pesc (147035) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @06:21AM (#17267204)
    Backup on Mac is not as easy as one would think...

    http://blog.plasticsfuture.org/2006/03/05/the-stat e-of-backup-and-cloning-tools-under-mac-os-x/ [plasticsfuture.org]
    http://blog.plasticsfuture.org/2006/04/23/mac-back up-software-harmful/ [plasticsfuture.org]

    Maybe TimeMachine will offer an interesting solution...

    http://www.apple.com/se/macosx/leopard/timemachine .html [apple.com]
    • by kabz (770151)
      I didn't bother to read those links. Just downloaded SuperDuper and backed up my wife's MacBook, and my PowerBook to (separate) WD 250 Gig External USB/FW drives. It worked faultlessly, first time for both machines.

      Both machines booted happily from the back-ups. I'm sure happy to have both machines backed-up.

      It's not a clone either, since the backups are missing all the pre-linky goodness of OS X until you actually boot from them.

      I was very happy to pay the $30 for SuperDuper.
  • As many have pointed out, standard Unix backup tools aren't good on OSX.

    Surprisingly, many OSX backup tools aren't either. There's an extensive comparison [plasticsfuture.org] of many different backup programs for OSX and it has lists of exactly what the programs will backup/restore and whether or not those things tend to be important.
  • i use file vault on my work computer and used to have a crontab something like this for Documents and Library: /usr/bin/rsync -av ~/Documents serverUserName@serverName:/share/serverUserName/D o cuments/backupDir

    i already had generated ssh keys and this worked well. i'd have it run three times a day.

    however, i began to get thinking why encrypt my local home directory only to put it on the server unencrypted. so i've switched over to using scp to copy my entire file vault disk image once a week. i have giga
  • by wembley fraggle (78346) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @08:56AM (#17267798) Homepage
    I used the Backup application from dotMac faithfully for over a year. Ran well every night, backing up my system. Then, my computers were stolen. No problem, they were insured and I had a backup. These things happen. I got my new Macintosh and went to Backup.app to restore. Selected everything and hit restore.

    Backup crashed.

    Tried again. Crashed again.

    Backup won't restore more than one or two files at a time without crashing. It seems to be a memory leak, as it dies during a memory allocation routine. Granted, I had a lot of files and a lot of incrementals. But this is the JOB OF BACKUP! To be able to RESTORE my FILES! The files are there, I can see them (each backup file has a disk image inside it which you can mount manually). I just can't get at them systematically.

    So, I contacted Tech Support. Got something like "wow, that's strange", sent my logs and such. It's been two weeks and I've heard nothing. My followup emails go into the bit-bucket.

    By now, it would have been easier for me to have spent the last four nights manually mounting disk images and copying files over by hand.

    Needless to say, I'm going with Retrospect as soon as I have something to backup again. Cancelling my dotMac account too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Therin (22398)
      That's a major bummer. My experience is quite different, over the last couple of years I've used dotMac Backup.app three or four times to restore things, and it's worked just fine.
      • I can restore one or two things from the backup, just not everything all at once. The problem (I imagine) is, Backup by default only ever does one full backup, and never updates that. So I've got one full backup and 280+ incrementals. I never really noticed that, since it's a Mac app. I just assumed everything would Just Work.

        So when I go to restore 20,000+ files from across 280+ backup files, it dies with a malloc error. Somewhere, it's leaking memory. There are other people on the dotMac support board who
    • I had a very similar experience. After years of faithfully backing up to .Mac, I actually needed to recover my data and Backup ran for hours without accomplishing anything. No error message, but no recovered files either. After three attempts of 8 or more hours each, I finally went to the Genius Bar for help.

      The Apple Genius ("That's only my job title, and not an actual description.") blamed the problem on my numerous incrementals. He said that Backup needs full backups every so often to work reliably.
  • I use ChronoSync [econtechnologies.com].

    I'm happy to fiddle and tweak and produce home-brew solutions to many things, but not as the sole backup: The point of a backup program is to ensure that you have backed up exactly what you think you have backed up. ChonoSync provides a reliable and flexible back-up system. It is commercial ($30) -- which you may not like -- but they offer free updates to a reasonably priced product, and have been around for a while. Their customer service is also excellent: they provided a less restrict
  • by Rick Zeman (15628) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @09:37AM (#17268000)
    I back up my desktop, my PB, the wife's PB, my Dell, and my Linux server to an extra hard drive in my Desktop. Always been able to restore files that I've needed, and I've had to do one bare metal restore of my PB. Did a barebones install of 10.4.x on it, added the Retro client, clicked the mouse a few times...and came back to MY perfectly functioning PowerBook. A lot of people here will sneer at a commercial solution, but that restore paid for the software in my time and aggravation not spent.
  • Oh no, not again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gidds (56397) <.slashdot. .at. .gidds.me.uk.> on Saturday December 16, 2006 @09:41AM (#17268016) Homepage
    This seems to have been discussed in many places over the last couple of months.

    I'm no expert, but I can point you to a couple of interesting web pages by people who do seem to know a lot of the details:

    In short, there are lots of different backup and cloning tools, from the Unix cp, ditto, and rsync commands up to the free Carbon Copy Cloner [bombich.com], cheap SuperDuper! [shirt-pocket.com], and expensive Retrospect [emcinsignia.com]. And very few of them preserve everything. HFS+ carries a lot of baggage from the old Mac OS, and adds a lot more stuff from Unix: there are resource forks, HFS+ extended attributes, BSD flags such as creation date and owner/group permissions, ACLs, symbolic links, aliases, and lots more -- and almost none of the options can preserve all of those.

    You also need to think about what your backups are for and how much time and money you're prepared to expend: for some, burning a few personal files to CDR every few months will suffice, whereas for others an external HD holding a complete clone is the thing, and power users may need daily or weekly incremental backups with the ability to retrieve any file going back years.

    Personally speaking, I'm in the middle category, with a large external Firewire HD holding a clone of each of my drives, which I redo every month or so. (Having it bootable is also a good idea, and has saved my bacon at least once!) I've mostly been using Carbon Copy Cloner, which has given good results, but I've recently switched to SuperDuper! which is cheap and seems to preserve absolutely everything. But don't take my word for it: read the linked pages, work out your needs, and make up your own mind.

    But DO think about it! Disaster WILL strike in some form or other; disks DO fail (as I know to my cost), and you need to plan for it. It's not a question of how much time or money you can afford to spend; it's a question of how much data you can afford to lose!

    • I'll second the motion here for 'Carbon Copy Cloner' (not 'Carbon Cloner Copy' or whatever it was mistakenly called above) by another poster.

      Sure, there are quite a few different tools and systems and what-not with which one can easily make backups of your Mac; however, two things I like most about Carbon Copy Cloner are:
      1.) that it can make a fully bootable disk *and*
      2.) it actually does what its name implies: it copies your data onto another disk.

      These handy features can be quite a relief in the
      • Carbon Copy Cloner is good; but as the first article I linked to points out, it doesn't preserve doesn't preserve BSD flags, locked flag, creation date, HFS+ extended attributes, or ACLs. (Same as the ditto command-line program it uses.)

        If you never use these, or don't care about them -- and, more importantly, you know that none of the apps you use does either -- then by all means use it. But if you're not sure, it's worth considering something like SuperDuper! which does preserve all of that too.

        That

  • I use SuperDuper! [shirt-pocket.com] to make a clone of my boot partition on a FW drive. "Smart Update" is fast and if something goes bad, I can reboot on the external drive and work immediately, then take the time to fix it later. For important files, I use unison [upenn.edu] to a remote server via ssh, I prefer it over Rsync. Chronosync [econtechnologies.com] is nice to make automatic backups to external drives.

    I don't see how Apple's Time Machine [apple.com] could make Super Duper! obsolete, at least for me. What if I can't boot anymore and needs to work now?
  • by k3v0 (592611) <k3v0@nOspam.k3v0.net> on Saturday December 16, 2006 @10:20AM (#17268262) Homepage Journal
    you can set it to back up over the network or to another drive, you can specify manual or automatic, and you can schedule different backups at different times. it's easy and quick.
    • Another thumbs-up for Deja Vu. I've set it to back up (or rather, synchronize) my Home dir with a copy on a FireWire drive nightly. No fuss, no muss.
  • For external drives, there is plenty of software around. iBackup is what I have installed and it does what you want.

    What I'm looking for and haven't found yet is something that'll do backups over the network, and is not .Mac
  • I'm in a similar situation. I'm trying to help a fellow graduate student who recently accepted a postion at a univeristy set up his new office. He's decided that he wants to switch to all mac's and is looking for a way to keep his laptop and desktop in sync. I mentioned dotmac for bookmarks, addresses, mail, etc. but he's also looking for something that'll sync the files in his home directory as well. Basically he wants to use his desktop at work, press a button and have it sync everything to his lapto
    • by DannyO152 (544940)

      Connecting the laptop via FireWire cable after starting up in remote drive mode (hold down t after powering on) and copying the entire home directory from one to the other will do it. The working account should not have administrative powers. I'm guessing that it will go more smoothly if the working account on both machines were set up identically with the same name, password, userid, and groupid. This should happen if they were established at the same sequence point (next account after the initial one, per

    • Look into unison [upenn.edu]. I use it on my powerbook and desktop and it just saved 99% of my files from my disk crash last week. The only ones I lost were the ones I wasn't synching (I have a lot of data). I got the max os x binary by looking here: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/unison-users/ [yahoo.com]
    • I will second the recommendation to look into Unison. I used a very similar solution when I was trotting back and forth between home and a university office. In my case I didn't carry a laptop between sites, but did the synch when I got to the office (over the network). Within a minute or so, my office machine had everything I'd worked on at home. Last thing before leaving was to launch another synch that would pop everything home from the office. For the first month or two I paranoiacally copied thing
  • As mentioned in another article, shell scripts are usually the best. I'll look at Time Machine when it comes out, but the very fact that it's OS X-specific would relegate it to a curiosity for me.

    OS X provides "rsync," which is one of the best tools for the job, and it works on most (all?) Unix-based platforms as well as Windows (using Cygwin). With rsync, you should definitely look into the following options:

    --exclude (exclude file name patterns from being backed up. You don't really nead your web cache
  • I always use Deja Vu and always keep returning to it: http://propagandaprod.com/ [propagandaprod.com]

    It uses psync (like rsync but with resource forks etc.) and is generally brilliant. I simply create an incremental duplicate of my entire hard drive to an equally sized other hard drive every day at 6 PM.
  • Silverkeeper works great - I have it set up for most of the computers I support a work that don't use University network backups, and it's totally automated and will keep multiple copies on the external hard drive. A good review of it is on MacOSX Hints - http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20040 421082847552 [macosxhints.com]
  • ChronoSync (Score:2, Informative)

    by varontron (460254)
    from EconTechnologies [econtechnologies.com] is my choice. It's easy to use, supports archiving, and unattended operation. That's pretty much all I need. I back up my home folder with all my shtuff, and /usr/local where I have data and config files. Everything else in my world is downloadable, configurable, or forgotten. If I lose my hard drive once a year, I'll spend less time rebuilding then I would searching for and configuring a more advanced backup package.
  • I've been using time navigator for about 6 months now, very good enterprise backup and it really maximized the amount of tape and disk storage i have. my main complaint is there is no "bare metal" restore for osx, which would be nice for disaster recovery
  • For business and large organization use, a large government agency I used to work for first tried Retrospect. The whatever-it-is industrial strength version. We didn't have a very easy time of things, mostly minor technical issues that constantly plagued us, not generally with restoring, usually just with backups timing out, taking forever, jamming, etc.

    We were finally given the go-ahead to try something new, and since our backup guy had been checking out Tivoli Storage Manager and really like it, we gave
  • Boot from an alternate volume (like a Tiger install DVD -- after you select the language, there's a "utilities" menu or something where you can run terminal and disk utility), and use "asr -source $SOURCEVOL -target $TARGETVOL -erase" where $SOURCEVOL is your boot drive and $TARGETVOL is a sparse diskimage on a Firewire or USB disk.

    It's fast, it's a pure copy, and it doesn't modify the access times of files on $SOURCEVOL. Make sure you're booted from a different volume and you use the "-erase" flag, though,
  • The only backups that do any good are the ones that you actually make. I've tried various things that require doing by hand, going back to mounting 9 track tapes on PDP-11 tape drives in the seventies. I've made floppy, CD-ROM and DVD-RW backups on an intermittent basis. In general, when the time came for disaster recovery, the backups were too old to do any good. Unless you are far more conscientious than I am, completely automatic is the way to go.

    I use Retrospect 6.1 to run nightly incremental backups of
    • by holeinone (750622)
      Just thought I'd voice my vote against Retrospect. I had had Retrospect since v4. Backed up some files from a research project onto CDs from my Mac 7100 603E PPC computer (200 MHz!). Lo and behold, last year (about 10 years after the project had been finished) someone writes and asks about the data. No problem, I said. Pulled out backup CD and fired up Retrospect. It complained that it couldn't restore because it couldn't read the catalog (the exact error, I don't recall). The disk was fine. It mounted and
    • since osx was released, retrospect has fallen behind more and more. aside from the fact the mac application is a cheezy port of an ok os9 backup application, the fundamental design is wrong...for both os9 and osx. retrospect layers incrementals onto the full backup file. if this one full/incremental file gets corrupt, you lose everything. osx saavy backup applications (like atempo, bru and netbackup) have built in disk-to-disk-to-tape functionality and incrementals are stored as separate files. retrospect
  • Backuplist+, available at the usual search engines in your neighborhood :-), is a pretty nice gui frontend to several backup options. You can select Finder-like copy/backup, rsync, ditto, and cpio IIRC. It's free/donationware, so I'd recommend at least reading thru the documentation to see if it'll do all you need.
  • I used Impression for over a year and really liked it. I used it because it did verification of the data written and this feature was very important to me. Unfortunately, Impression became an orphan and I switched to SuperDuper.

    Fortunately, Impression has a new parent and is no longer an orphan. You can buy it at http://www.ineedyoursoftware.com/ [ineedyoursoftware.com] .

    I am sticking with SuperDuper for now as it extremely easy to use.

    Both programs back up to standard Mac files so retrieval is not dependent upon any special

  • I like Amanda because it's completely automated once you set it up... you don't have to keep track of whether you're doing full or incremental dumps. But there's all kinds of alternatives, and any UNIX backup software that can be configured to use hfstar or hfspax to catch the extra HFS+ attributes can accomodate a Mac as well.
  • retrospect is no longer a viable option for mac. many people have moved to tolisgroup bru (server or "le" for local backups). the unix toolset has been around for many years and is used in many mission critical environments. the mac osx gui is the result of a formal request from nasa for a mac version. :) http://www.tolisgroup.com/press/2006/09.25.html [tolisgroup.com] we have bru server deployed at many locations. it does disk-to-disk-to-tape backups easily (d2d2t). incrementals are individual stage files (unlike retrosp
  • For my money Déjà Vu [propagandaprod.com] has done it quick dirty and simple. I've seen this run for 3 years not be touched and have no issues. Not really a enterprise solution but great for home & professional users who don't want to shell script things.
    -ZuCom [zucom.com]
  • Can't you just set up the folders that you want to sync with .Mac and store the files over there? I guess if you have gigs and gigs, you probably aren't backing that up every month anyway. Better to burn all that pr0n...rather, legally purchased iPr0n...rather, legally purchased iTunes content and your family photos and movies onto DVDs for your archives. Really depends what you are backing up, how much of it there is, how frequently and quickly you need to access it, and if you care who sees it.
  • SuperDuper is nice. Personally, I use Synk Backup from decimus [decimus.net]. There's also Retrospect for professional backup, and of course, Mac OS X 10.5 will include its own Backup functionality called Time Machine [apple.com].

    Avoid Apple's current Backkup app, as it sucks.

  • psyncx [sourceforge.net] is a graphical front end to psync and works quite well.

    at my last job, i backed up a machine using retrospect and an exabyte loader and it was weeks of headaches. nothing went right at all.

    psyncx doesn't have the complex options of something like retrospect, but it's perfect for the user of a single machine who wants a basic backup - selected folders or drives copied to another location - done on a schedule of manually, using inexpensive shareware software.
    • I use this software as well. Incremental backups from all 3 of my internal drives out to a firewire drive partitioned appropriately and scheduled to go off at 1, 2, and 3AM respectively. This doesn't provide you with protection from deleting a file if you don't notice in the first 24 hours, but it does give you a fine safety margin against hard drive failure.
  • Use Bacula. Support for HFS+ resource forks, and many other useful features one comes to love about backup software (when one must use it). http://www.bacula.org/ [bacula.org]
  • by M-RES (653754)
    Retrospect - should do everything you're asking of it.
  • Yeah, shell scripts are good, but I recommend going to lacie.com and downloading their one step backup software for OS/X -- which is freeware. and... it retains your file permissions to boot. It doesn't offer compression, or advanced features, just copies to any removable or non-removable device. I fyou have an external FW you will love it. enjoy!
  • I have a "system" for backups which includes:

    1. Nightly rsync of my iMac and powerbook to a hard disk connected via firewire to my iMac (runs from cron)

    2. Plans to install rsnapshot [rsnapshot.org] to shorten the window of exposure from 1 day to 1 hour. Used to use this on Linux with great success, fully expect that this will work well on OS X.

    3. I bought 2 firewire/USB drive enclosures, and populated them with PIDE drives. I keep one, and gave my sister one. The enclosures are identical and the drives are partitioned w

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