Mac Backup Software, Hardware, and Guides for Your Mac

So Many Choices, So Little Time

Most people don’t think about backing up their Mac until after disaster strikes; by then, it’s too late. Don’t let this happen to you. Instead of waiting for that sinking feeling when you realize your Mac isn’t going to boot, or the terrifying sound of your hard drive screeching to a halt, be proactive. Check out all the possibilities, make a decision, and then back up your data.

Time Machine - Backing Up Your Data Has Never Been So Easy

Time Machine
Courtesy of Apple
What We Like
  • Included as part of macOS.

  • Very easy to set up and use with a simple interface.

  • Easy ability to recover single files or folders from backups.

What We Don't Like
  • Backups are not bootable.

  • Automated management deletes old backups as space is needed.

  • Limited ability to customize backup processes.

Time Machine, the utility included with Leopard may be one of the easiest backup utilities to set up and use. It makes backing up your data so easy you may forget that it’s there, working quietly in the background, automatically backing up your data. Time Machine also offers one of the best interfaces for recovering a specific file or folder from a backup. "Backing Up Your Data Has Never Been So Easy" provides a step-by-step guide to configuring Time Machine and creating your first backup.

How to Use Two or More Backup Drives With Time Machine

Use Two or More Backup Drives With Time Machine

Using multiple backup drives with Time Machine is a great way to gain increased reliability in your backup system. Time Machine supports multiple backup drives, and with the advent of OS X Mountain Lion, it's even easier to add two or more drives to your backup system.

This guide will show you how to set up Time Machine to use more than one drive as a backup destination. The guide also explains how to use Time Machine to create off-site backups.

Moving Time Machine to a New Hard Drive

iMac and Time Machine
Courtesy of Apple

At some point, your Time Machine drive will probably need to be replaced. This may be because it's size is now smaller then you need, or the drive is exhibiting problems. No matter what the reason, chances are you will want to save your old Time Machine data and move it to your new drive. This article provides step-by-step instructions for copying your data to your new Time Machine drive.

How Do You Back Up FileVault User Accounts With Time Machine?

MacBook with Lock
JokMedia/E+/Getty Images

Time Machine and FileVault will work fine together, however, there are some niggling bits you need to be aware of. First, Time Machine will not back up a FileVault-protected user account when you are logged into that account. This means that a Time Machine backup for your user account will only occur after you log off.

Using the Finder to Access FileVault Backups on a Time Machine Drive

Finder Icon
Courtesy of Apple

Time Machine uses a compelling interface to restore files and folders. But what happens when the file you want to restore is located within a backed-up FileVault image?

The answer is that individual files and folders in an encrypted FileVault image are locked away and cannot be accessed using Time Machine. But Apple provides another application that can access individual FileVault data; it's called the Finder. Now, this isn't some backdoor that allows just anyone to access encrypted files; you still need to know the user account password to gain access to the files

Free Mac Backup Software

Time Machine

 If you're not sure which backup app to use with your Mac then why not take a look at our collection of free Mac backup software.

These backups app all include either a long term demo capability that allows you to fully test and evaluated the app, or is some cases the app is outright free.

Carbon Copy Cloner 4: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Carbon Copy Cloner 4
Carbon Copy Cloner 4.x. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.
What We Like
  • Greater control over the backup process.

  • Ability to create bootable backups and restore entire hard drive.

  • Fast backup speed.

  • Scheduled incremental updates keep backups current.

What We Don't Like
  • Setup can be more complicated for novice users.

  • Somewhat slow restore process.

  • No encryption or compression for backups.

Apple’s Time Machine is a great backup application, but it does have its faults. Perhaps its biggest fault is that it doesn’t provide an easy way to restore an entire hard drive. That’s Carbon Copy Cloner where comes in. One of the go-to applications that Mac techs have been using for years,Carbon Copy Cloner allows you to create a bootable copy of your startup drive that is essentially a clone, indistinguishable from the original.

Once you clone your startup drive, you can use the clone to boot your Mac at any time, should your original startup drive fail. Carbon Copy Cloner also offers additional backup capabilities that you may find useful.

SuperDuper 2.7.5 Review

Mac Backup - Mac Backup Software, Hardware, and Guides for Your Mac
SuperDuper 2.5. Courtesy of Shirt Pocket
What We Like
  • Quicker backup restore speed.

  • Software is free.

  • Interface is minimal and straightforward.

What We Don't Like
  • No ability to select which files to backup and which not to.

  • Slow backup speed.

  • No backup encryption or incremental file backup options.

SuperDuper 2.7.5 may be one of the easiest backup tools to use to create a startup clone. Like Carbon Copy Cloner, SuperDuper’s main goal is to create completely bootable clones of your startup drive.

Unlike other cloning tools, SuperDuper provides multiple ways of creating a clone, including the very popular Sandbox method. Sandboxes are clones designed to isolate your system for the purpose of trying out new software or beta software. Sandboxes protect your system from unruly beta applications, plug-ins, or drivers, preventing them from wreaking havoc on your Mac.

Back Up Your Startup Disk

Disk Utility App
Courtesy of Apple

Apple’s Disk Utility includes the ability to create a bootable backup of your startup drive. Although it’s a bit more difficult to use than some third-party backup applications, Disk Utility can create and restore data from one hard drive to another.

‘Back Up Your Startup Disk’ is a step-by-step guide to using the built-in capabilities of Disk Utility to create a bootable backup of your startup drive.

External Hard Drive - Build Your Own External Hard Drive

Mac Backup - Mac Backup Software, Hardware, and Guides for Your Mac
External Case. Photo © Coyote Moon Inc.

External hard drives are a great choice for backup destinations. For one thing, they can be shared by multiple Macs. If you have an iMac or one of Apple’s notebooks, an external hard drive may be your only real choice for backups.

You can purchase ready-made external hard drives; just plug them into your Mac and you’re ready to start backing up your data. But if you have a little free time and the inclination (plus a screwdriver), you can build a custom external hard drive, using the Focus on Macs ‘External Hard Drive - Build Your Own External Hard Drive’ step-by-step guide.

Before You Buy an External Hard Drive

Mac Backup - Mac Backup Software, Hardware, and Guides for Your Mac
miniStack v3. Courtesy Newer Technology, Inc.

Now that you’re ready to back up your Mac, you may need an external hard drive to serve as a backup destination. As an alternative to building your own, you might prefer to buy a ready-made drive. External hard drives are a great choice for backups, and something that I highly recommend for this purpose.

There are things to consider and decisions to make before you part with your hard-earned cash. ‘Before You Buy an External Hard Drive’ covers many of the options to consider before you make a purchase.

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