During the Mac Yak shows this month, we will cover some of the best backup utilities and strategies. Whether you use a Macintosh with System 7 or a 2019 Mac Pro with Big Sur, we’ll have you covered. This article will be updated with the latest info after each show.
Kicking this off on June 10th on Mac Yak #123 (late start) with what are probably the most well known backup utilities in the Mac community.
Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper. Before we get into this, let us know if you’ve ever used either of these backup utilities before!
Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC)
First release: 2002, version 1.0
Current release (at time of writing): 2021, version 6
Supported OS versions: Available for Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar through the current macOS.
Supported architectures: PPC, Intel and ARM
Cost: $40 – this licenses CCC for all the Macs in your household.
Those that have used CCC in the past remember this was shareware software (remember that funny pig banner “Have we saved your bacon? Support us with a donation!”) but this changed after 2010 when the amount of support requests that came in every day became so overwhelming, handling them was a full time job. It was then the software became commercial software and required a payment. In our opinion; worth every penny!
Backup to another drive, backup to a disk image, sparseimage, local, remote server, it has something for everyone. Full backups or incremental backups are possible too. Bootable clone? No problem (unless you have an M1 Mac). Storage and data transfer health monitoring is included so you’ll be alerted of any issues as it happens. CCC will meet the backup needs of the vast majority of users.
First release: 2004
Current release (at time of writing): 2021, version 3.3.1 (3.5 with Big Sur support is in beta)
Supported OS versions: Available for Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar through macOS Catalina.
Supported architectures: PPC and Intel (ARM support likely coming soon)
Cost: $28 – this licenses a single Mac.
Trial: A free version with limited features can be used indefinitely.
SD and CCC have battled each other for many, many, years. It’s no surprise those that are familiar with these utilities have switched from one to the other, and back again, multiple times. SD would release a version that was better than what CCC had to offer, and then CCC would release an update that made it better than SD. Having both utilities on one’s Mac used to be a common occurrence. With it’s lower price point and limited free version, it’s still a popular choice today. That said, with CCC ramping up the amount of time and resources they spend on their product, SD has no advantage over CCC these days. Do mistake that statement for bashing, SD is still very capable software and worth checking out!
You can get SuperDuper here. For versions that support older OS’ check out the right side bar on their page.
iOS / iPadOS mention
While neither of the above mentioned utilities are available for your iDevices, you can still back them up to your Mac. Connect a USB cable to your Mac and back up to iTunes. It’s free, you can encrypt your backup, more data is included (if you encrypt your backup) and it’s a hell of a lot faster. The only limit is the available space on your boot drive.
A backup is only a backup if the data exists in multiple locations. If you put your data on an external drive and erase the original, that external drive is no longer a backup but has now become the source data that needs a backup. Backed up data always exists in at least 2 locations! For a good backup strategy, look into the 3-2-1 strategy.
Continuing on with the June 17th content, covered in Mac Yak #124, this week focusing on older Macs. With solutions for system 7 through early versions of OS X these perfectly fill the needs for any systems that can not use the previously mentioned Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper.
Covered here are Personal Backup, SilverKeeper, Retrospect and DeskTape.
Intego Personal Backup
Supported OS versions: System 7 through Mac OS 9.
Supported architectures: 68K and PPC
Personal Backup, a utility made by Intego, is a lightweight and reliable backup solution for your older Macs. I wrote about this utility in a 2017 article on their website “Mac OS 9: Some love for the classics” and was able to dig up an old copy of the software at the time. Intego agreed to let me make it available on MacintoshGarden and since then other users have managed to dig up other versions as well.
Personal Backup actually saved my behind while I was writing that article as my Pismo crashed. The bootable clone I made earlier had me up and running in minutes. As mentioned it’s very lightweight and saving resources on these older Macs is important. I use it for my Mac OS 8.6 and 9 machines and would not hesitate to use it for 68K machines as well, if I had any.
Supported OS versions: Mac OS 9 through OS X 10.6 Snow leopard.
Supported architectures: PPC and Intel
If you’ve used Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper before, SilverKeeper will look very familiar. Select a source, assign a target, set some parameters and you’re ready to backup! It runs very smooth and has proven extremely reliable. Keep multiple copies of documents or directories (like Time Machine), set a schedule and more, this utility will meet most people’s backup needs. A few versions are available on MacintoshGarden with version 1 for Mac OS 9.0.4 through OS X 10.2 Jaguar (might work up until OS X 10.4 Tiger but only 10.2 Jaguar has been confirmed). And version 2 is for OS X 10.3 Panther through 10.6 Snow Leopard.
Supported OS versions: System 7 through macOS 12 Monterey (yeah, they’ve been around for a while!)
Supported architectures: 68K, PPC and Intel (ARM versions likely coming soon)
Cost: Abandonware for versions 3 through 6. Modern versions available for sale on their website.
Retrospect has been around for a long time and as long as I remember has been a very popular and reliable backup solution for businesses. I have never used this in a personal capacity but have set this up for many clients in the past. Business implementations involved a retrospect server that all the clients connect to but for personal use you don’t need a server like that (unless you want to).
You can find the older versions on MacintoshGarden and once you get familiar with the software I am sure it can meet whatever needs you likely have.
This software is not currently available anywhere but once it is, I’ll link to it here. A very handy utility that mounts tapes on your desktop so you can use them as external drives. It’s slow but can be very convenient! If you happen to have a copy, please upload it to MacintoshGarden and let us know 🙂
Of course using DiskCopy and other utilities to simply image old drives, floppies etc. is a very popular practice as well. And while reliable, it is not automated. Automation ensures backups are done frequently even when you forget about it and that’s where the above mentioned utilities really come in handy. That said, for the one-off floppies and old drive recoveries, imaging them will always be a valuable way to save the data. Just make sure you backup all those images 😉
Unless you are using modern SATA drives, SCSI2SD or the like in your old Mac, your data lives on a very fragile spinning platter hard drive. Those old drives do not have SMART monitoring and may fail at any moment. In fact, your drive may already be failing without you knowing, meaning the data that is being backed up may already be damaged or corrupted. Upgrade your old Mac’s drive to a more modern one (SATA PCI card, SCSI2SD, BlueSCSI etc) if you can.
Come back here after June 24th for the next chapter!
Adding to the list, this is the content for June 24th, covered in Mac Yak episode #125.
This week the focus is on off-site backups and this is of course best done with a solution such as Backblaze.
Backblaze Personal Backup
Supported OS versions: Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion through the current macOS.
Supported architectures: Intel and ARM
Cost: $60 a year
Backblaze has been around for a while and has a stellar reputation. You can find the full list of features here but the highlights are:
- Unlimited storage space
- Encryption options
- Backup files of any size
- Access to your files from anywhere
The price for unlimited storage is a no-brainer. The encryption for data in transit is good but you can set a personal encryption key on top of that, adding extra security for your data. How much you can backup is limited by your internet speed and service provider, some still enforce data caps (lame) somake sure those kinds of limits do not apply to you. A 1TB monthly data limit really doesn’t mean much if you run Backblaze and your speeds are up to the challenge.
Of course you decide how much bandwidth is used at any given time (I set mine to just take a decent chunk).
Now Backblaze is not an option for pre-Mountain Lion machines unfortunately. Even if you have an old install of Backblaze, it simply won’t let you connect to the server to make backups.
iOS / iPadOS mention
I always recommend iOS/iPadOS users backup to their own Macs using iTunes. Scroll up to the first section to read more about that. While I still recommend doing that, it doesn’t have to be the only backup you make. If you have enough storage on your account, you can backup your i-Device to iCloud as well as your Mac. Ensuring two backups of your data, one off-site. With iCloud pricing these days fairly reasonable, you can have up to 2TB for $10 a month. Yes, it’s not the insane deal for a service like Backblaze gives you but it’s better than no off-site backup at all.
Backups are only good backups as long as the data is intact. To ensure your backups are not damaged or corrupted you MUST restore backups occasionally. Without doing that, your backups will be Schrödinger’s Backups. Your data may be there or it may be a garbled mess. Check your backups! (info) & (more info)
That’s it for this week, come back next week for the last bit of info!
And here with the last bit of info, from Mac Yak episode #126.
This week the focus is on backing up to optical media. It comes as no surprise that the go-to software for this is: Toast.
Supported OS versions: System 7 through the latest macOS.
Supported architectures: 68K, PPC, Intel, ARM
Cost: Abandonware – $79.99
Unless you’re new to Mac, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Toast. Also referred to as Roxio Toast and in the past Adaptec Toast. Roxio is the current owner of the product. Backing up to optical media has been popular for a few decades and a lot of people still use optical media to do their backups today. It’s a cheap and easy way to create a hard copy backup of important data that is not sensitive to the kinds of degradation and other issues that hard drives and even solid state drives suffer from.
That’s not to say optical media doesn’t degrade, most of us will know the pain of having a CD or DVD suffer disc rot or simply no longer able to read the data on it. That’s where blu-ray M-Disc comes in. Unlike optical media that came before it, M-Disc etches your data in a hard non-organic layer, like carving in stone.
But this is about Toast, so let me just leave some reference material here so I can move on:
– Why everyone should have a blu-ray burner
– Check your backups
– A better way to check your backups
Toast allows you to burn every type of optical media your hardware supports, span data automatically over multiple discs, data encryption, identical copies and much more. It’s a fantastic tool to have. You can find older versions on MacintoshGarden.org
If you don’t want to spring for Toast and all it’s awesome features, OS X has Burn built in. Just create a new Burn folder from the Finder’s File menu, drop data in it and click the ‘burn’ button.
Optical media can deteriorate. Follow manufacturer guidelines and best practices when storing your optical media. Currently the most resilient optical media for backing up is Blue Ray M-Disc.
That concludes the Backup Awareness article. There is so much to cover when it comes to backups this can go on for 20 pages or more but we’ll cut it off here. If you want to discuss something that wasn’t mentioned here, drop it in the comments!
– ChronoSync – More geared to businesses but very powerful and impressive software. If you want to keep multiple Macs in sync this is a strong contender.
– Time Machine – Built into the Mac OS since 10.5 leopard it’s free so you should ideally always use this. Even if you use any of the before mentioned backup utilities, Time Machine should run right along side it.
– Resilio Sync – Solutions for home use and corporate use. This keeps multiple devices in sync and more.
– A simple drag and drop – Manually backing up can be done of course, just drag your files to an external drive or upload it to a remote server over FTP. Drag and drop was far more useful in the pre-OS X days though.