Mac Backup Guru: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Incremental Bootable Clones Are a Feature I Wish Time Machine Had

Mac Backup Guru icon
Courtesy of MacDaddy

Mac Backup Guru may be a new name to many About: Macs readers, but the app, created by MacDaddy, is a well-rounded and very easy-to-use backup and cloning app that gets the job done with perhaps the simplest of all backup app interfaces.

But don’t let the simple interface fool you. Mac Backup Guru has a number of amazing capabilities under the hood, wrapped up in an easy-to-use app that can keep your data safe.

Pro

  • Single-window interface puts everything at your fingertips.
  • Supports creating bootable clones.
  • Can create incremental clone backups that really speed up the backup process.
  • Can be used to sync folders (non-bootable backups).
  • Includes the ability to schedule backups.

Cons

  • Silly backup graphics may not be that helpful.
  • User manual is an infographic, as opposed to a detailed manual.

Mac Backup Guru has a lot going for it, so much so that I want to start off with my pet peeves about the app and get them out of the way. First up, the included help system, as well the user manual mentioned on the Mac Backup Guru web site, are nothing more than an infographic showing the app's open window and a blurb about what each control surface in the app does.

While you can learn what each button does, you come away with no idea about how you can use the app, or what capabilities it really has. And that’s too bad, because it's actually a pretty nice backup app, one I wouldn't hesitate to suggest that you consider; I'd be even more likely to recommend it if it had a decent manual to go along with it.

Next up are the graphics displayed when performing a backup. Thumbnail icons depict each file that's being backed up, showing it moving from the selected source to the destination. Sure, it shows at a glance that the backup is still in progress, but since each thumbnail icon includes the file's name with the appropriate file icon, there seems to be some CPU time being used to create this little bit of graphic theater that I'd rather have spent performing the actual backup task.

With my pet peeves out of the way, let's get on to the good stuff, of which there happens to be a lot.

Mac Backup Guru Features

Starting with the basics, Mac Backup Guru is primarily a clone backup system that can create bootable copies of your Mac’s startup drive, or for that matter, any drive or partition on your Mac that contains a bootable system.

This is nothing new; the app's major competitors, SuperDuper and Carbon Copy Cloner, can perform the same tasks. What sets Mac Backup Guru apart is its unique ability to create incremental bootable clones without repeatedly copying the same data over and over.

Instead, Mac Backup Guru creates a bootable clone the first time you perform the backup. For each subsequent backup, the app creates a new folder on the destination drive that contains hard links to the original backup; then, all new files that weren't present in the original backup are added to the new folder on the backup destination. The result is that since the majority of the files needed for the backup clone already exist on the destination drive, they can be used without having to re-copy them, vastly improving performance by avoiding unnecessary copying.

And because each subsequent incremental backup takes very little additional storage space over the original, you can easily have dozens of incremental clones on the destination storage device.

Think of it as a bootable version of Time Machine.

In addition to being able to make bootable clones, incremental clones, and synchronize folders, Mac Backup Guru also allows you to schedule any backup you have previously performed, a very basic way to automate your backup system.

Using Mac Backup Guru

Installation is as simple as dragging the downloaded app to your /Applications folder. Once you launch the app, Mac Backup Guru presents itself as a single-window app, with all of its controls and features presented within the window.

You start by selecting a source, which can be a volume or a folder, and a destination. If creating a clone, be sure to select just a volume. Otherwise, you can select a folder on a volume as the destination.

Below the source and destination are the options that affect the current backup; chief among these are a Synchronized Clone, and a Backup with Incremental Snapshots. You can also exclude items in the source from being copied to the destination.

You may not always see all the options, depending on the type of backup you’re performing. This is especially true when performing the very first backup clone, which by necessity lacks any sync or incremental options, although you can still exclude items.

Mac Backup Guru is very easy to use, with all the options and capabilities right in front of you. Performance was average when creating an initial clone, but subsequent backups to the same clone, using either the synchronize or incremental options, was remarkably fast. This is especially true of the Backup with Incremental Snapshots option.

Closing Thoughts

I nitpicked Mac Backup Guru a bit, its lack of a real user manual being its biggest fault. However, Mac Backup Guru is very easy to use, and the ability to create Backups with Incremental Snapshots that are fully bootable brings new capabilities to Mac backup apps; for this reason, the cons I cite aren't that important compared to what this app is capable of doing.

Mac Backup Guru is $29.00. A demo is available.

See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks.

Published: 6/20/2015

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