8 Backup Solutions for OS X

Everyone generally agrees that having some form of backup solution in place is vitally important. Hard drives are far more reliable now than ever, but they’re still prone to fail from time-to-time. Many people consider Time Machine to be the de-facto backup solution for the Mac, but you’d be surprised how many others are available.

This roundup will take a look at a new way to customize Time Machine, a variety of different drive cloning utilities, and a few online backup tools. I hope you find something new, and however you choose to go about it be sure to backup your data!

Time Machine

Time Machine

Time Machine

As it comes bundled with OS X, Time Machine is by far the easiest and most convenient solution available. It requires an external drive, and will make hourly backups automatically without any intervention on your part. Restoring a file is done through the wonderful space-age interface.

Price: Free
Developer: Apple
Requires: OS X Leopard

SuperDuper!

SuperDuper!

SuperDuper!

SuperDuper! is a widely popular backup utility for creating an exact clone of one drive to another. It’s useful for maintaining a bootable copy of your Mac’s hard drive, so you can continue working easily if a disk fails. The interface is simple, and I’ve found it to be thoroughly reliable over the years.

Price: $27.95
Developer: Shirt Pocket
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

Carbon Copy Cloner

Carbon Copy Cloner

Carbon Copy Cloner

Similar to SuperDuper!, Carbon Copy Cloner makes an exact replica of your drive onto another. It can handle incremental backups, and files created are non-proprietary, so you can browse them or use them with Migration Assistant.

Price: $10
Developer: Bombich
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

Smart Backup

Smart Backup

SmartBackup

SmartBackup offers all the regular features you’d expect from a backup utility, but also a few advanced tools. It can show you where to find application data files (such as your email), and also use Spotlight’s saved searches as criteria for backups (e.g. back up all files changed in the last week). It’s optimized, clever, and can easily be automated with iCal or Automator.

Price: $22
Developer: Free Ride Coding
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5

BackBlaze

BackBlaze

Backblaze

The first online backup utility to be featured, Backblaze is the “no fuss solution to getting all your data backed up securely”. It’s incredibly simple, supposedly offers unlimited storage, any encrypts all data before sending it across the internet. It sounds impressive, and has received some excellent reviews.

Price: $5 per month
Developer: BackBlaze
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

Dropbox

Dropbox

Dropbox

Dropbox allows you to keep pre-defined files in sync with the cloud, and any other computers you may own. It’s fantastic for backing up important files, but would struggle with copying an entire machine. It also supports versioning, so you can revert to previous versions of a file easily.

Price: Free / $9.99 per month
Developer: Dropbox
Requires:

Retrospect

Retrospect

EMC Retrospect

Retrospect is incredibly expensive, and generally seen as a corporate backup solution. They do offer a desktop backup solution for OS X, though I haven’t tried it personally. It’s aimed at network backups primarily, though you may find a copy of their “Express” software bundled with an external hard drive.

Price: Around $140
Developer: EMC
Requires:

Time Machine Editor

Time Machine Editor

Time Machine Editor

Finally, Time Machine Editor is a great tool for tweaking the settings of Leopard’s backup app. It allows you to change the interval at which backups occur, and alter settings which are otherwise unavailable. Very handy, and completely free.

Price: Free
Developer: Time Machine Editor Team
Requires: Mac OS X Leopard

Conclusion

Don’t feel completely confined to Time Machine – a whole range of software is out there to be tried, some of which can add a new level of safety for your data. Having a bootable clone of your hard drive can be incredibly useful if things go wrong.

I’m aware that a wide selection of online backup utilities are available, and I’d be interested to hear which ones you prefer. So… How do you keep your data safe?