No Excuses: 7 Free Mac Backup Apps

There's no excuse not to maintain current backups

Regularly backing up data should be at the top of every Mac user's to-do list (Windows users, too). Don't delay; tomorrow may be too late.

If you don’t currently use a backup app, try one of these Mac backup apps. You're going to feel a lot better knowing that, should something happen to your Mac’s storage system, you can quickly retrieve any lost data and get right back to work.

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Lowest Barrier of Entry: Time Machine

Time Machine home screen
What We Like
  • Seamlessly integrates any external drive.

  • Shows what a file looked like in the recent past.

  • Built into Mac OS X and macOS.

What We Don't Like
  • Less secure than cloud storage.

  • Doesn't archive data.

  • Requires an external drive, which can also fail.

Time Machine, which is included with OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and later, is the backup app of choice for many Mac users. And why not; it's easy to set up and easy to use. It's also easy to forget about.

Once you set it up, you can go about your daily business without giving backups a second thought. Time Machine automatically takes care of everything for you. Time Machine also works with OS X's migration assistant, making it an effective choice for moving data to a new Mac as well as performing backups.

While it offers a number of attractive features, Time Machine isn't perfect. We recommend using Time Machine as the core of your backup strategy and relying on other backup apps for additional capabilities, such as cloning or remote/cloud backup.

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Backups and Bootables: SuperDuper

SuperDuper ready to clone startup drive
What We Like
  • One-step restore for easy file retrieval.

  • Simple UI leaves little room for user mistakes.

  • Create bootable drives of disks for restoration.

What We Don't Like
  • Cannot choose specific folders or files to back up.

  • Slow; backs up everything each time it runs.

  • A paywall blocks some features.

SuperDuper is a backup application that supports the traditional full and incremental backup approaches many of us know. It's also capable of creating bootable clones of a startup drive, one feature that Time Machine lacks and which SuperDuper performs well.

SuperDuper's core features (creating clones and backups) are free. The paid version of SuperDuper includes additional features, such as the ability to set up schedules to automate your backups or clone creations.

Smart Updates are incremental versions of a clone and significantly reduce the time it takes to update an existing clone. User scripts allow you to create custom backup routines and schedules.

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Most Features: Carbon Copy Cloner

Carbon Copy Cloner 4 home screen
What We Like
  • Lightning-fast backup speed.

  • More advanced features than other solutions.

  • Ability to chain tasks together.

What We Don't Like
  • Restore speed is slower than backup speed.

  • Interface may be confusing for novice users.

  • History logs don't appear in the main window.

Carbon Copy Cloner is the granddaddy of Mac cloning software. It has long been a favorite of the Mac community.

While widely used for creating bootable clones, Carbon Copy Cloner can also create full and incremental backups, schedule tasks, and back up to any networked share that your Mac can mount on its desktop.

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Most Secure: Get Backup

Get Backup app home screen

What We Like
  • Automatic encryption keeps backup data safe from hackers.

  • Less expensive than Carbon Copy Cloner.

  • Provides customization options for what you back up.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't provide a data log of backup activity.

  • No cloud support.

Get Backup from BeLight Software is available in free and paid (pro) versions. The pro version has some nice feature enhancements that are worth the small additional charge, but the free version has all the basic functionality that many Mac users will ever need.

Free and noteworthy features include the ability to create full and versioned backups, exclude files and folders, synchronize files and folders, and create bootable clones of a startup drive.

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Most Streamlined: Mac Backup Guru

Mac Backup Guru icon


What We Like
  • Packs an impressive number of features into a single window.

  • Incremental backups save time and space.

  • Ability to include and exclude folders.

What We Don't Like
  • The user manual infographic lacks detailed text.

  • Notifications during backup consume CPU resources.

Mac Backup Guru is another backup app that specializes in cloning, creating an exact copy of a selected drive. So exact that if the target drive is the one you use as your startup drive, the resulting clone will also be bootable.

In today's backup market, cloning a drive is nothing new, and most backup utilities can perform this service. Mac Backup Guru has a few additional tricks it can perform.

Besides cloning a drive, Mac Backup Guru can sync any selected folders and create incremental clones, which cuts down on the time it takes to keep a backup clone current. It also has a complete scheduling system so you can automate your backups.

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CrashPlan backup app home screen
What We Like
  • Reliable documentation and technical support.

  • So lightweight you'll likely never notice it running.

  • Stores backup data in the cloud.

What We Don't Like
  • Frequent updates and requests for user feedback.

  • Slower than other alternatives.

  • Charges per device after the free trial.

CrashPlan is primarily an off-site backup application that uses the cloud for storage. However, there's a free version that lets you create your own local cloud.

You can designate any Mac, Windows, or Linux computer on your network as the destination. CrashPlan uses this computer as the backup device for your other computers.

You can even backup to remote computers that aren't your local network, say the computer of a good friend who lives next door. In this way, you can easily create off-site backups without trusting your data to the cloud.

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Best Value: IDrive

IDrive online backup home screen

IDrive, Inc.

What We Like
  • Restore Wizard feature lets you restore files indefinitely.

  • Excellent bargain for what you get.

  • Good prices for gigabytes or terabytes of cloud storage.

What We Don't Like
  • Only yearly premium plans are available.

  • Free version includes annoying pop-up ads.

IDrive is another online-based backup service that's compatible with your Mac. Besides your Mac, IDrive can backup your PC as well as your mobile devices.

IDrive offers a free basic level, allowing you to backup up to 5 GB of data from any device. If you need more backup space, you can choose the Personal 2 TB plan.

IDrive goes beyond basic backup service: It also allows you to synchronize files between devices and mark files for sharing.

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