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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Which Back-up Program is best?


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drgrafix

 
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My iMac should be here tomorrow (according to apple), and in anticipation of buying an external HDD (Lacie 1TB 301199U) I was wondering about advice on which backup program/utility to use?

Obviously there's Time Machine, but I think Lacie also has it's own utility, and then there's something called Super-Duper? Can someone with experience in any/all of these give me some insights?

My iMac has the 500GB HDD, and I want to keep all my old media (movies, stills, etc.) in the excess space above the 500GB on the external drive. Most of it will be imported from my smaller external USB drives on my PC. If there's a better technique... tell me about that too. Thanks!

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mpoma

 
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From my limited experience with a few of the back up utilities I think Time Machine is great...it has already come in handy a few times since I installed Leopard on my imac a few weeks back. I don't see the need to spend money on SuperDuper since Time Machine works in a nearly identical fashion.

But that is just my opinion.
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Macworld posted a great article this morning on the pros and cons of Time Machine.

For my needs, I use SuperDuper! and when I upgrade to Leopard, this won't change. Time Machine, to me, is too restrictive, not customizable enough to my tastes and making a bootable clone is important to me.
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Time Machine doesn't appear to work with network-attached drives, either, which isn't any use to me.

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I guess it comes down to what you are trying to back up. I don't advocate backing up the OS and programs generally - I focus my backups on my personal data - photos, music, videos, spreadsheets, etc. In this case, given the size and speed of hard drives these days, I would argue that no backup software is needed at all. Instead...

I have always done backups the "cheap and cheerful" way... simple file copies from your hard drive to an external hard drive.

I have an external hard drive for backups, just like you are planning to do. To back up, I plug it in, turn it on and then create a new folder in its root called todays_date_backup. Then I simply use Finder (or PathFinder in my case) to drag my home folder into my newly created backup folder. This copies ALL of my personal data. It does not create a full blown image of my current disk, but I tend to view the system setup as transient. It is my personal stuff (music, photos, files, etc.) that I want to keep.

To make this really useful, I use a system of two hard drives, which I rotate between work and home. Each time I do a backup, I take the hard drive with the fresh backup to work and exchange it with the one there. That way, I always have two full backups at two different locations. Hence, even if some terrible disaster should befall my house (tornado, flood, fire, whatever), I still have a full backup "off site".

Note that no incremental backup software is involved or needed. Hard drives are so big and so fast these days that this works great and it is so simple. It has always been my philosophy that in order to be done regularly, backing up must be easy. Apple clearly agrees with me - I think that this is the whole premise behind Time Machine.

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I use SuperDuper, mainly to ensure that I get a full bootable clone just like MacHeadCase.

This gives me a real quick recovery option if it all goes wrong!

I do back up my OS and programs to avoid having to do a re-install. It's not just the apps it's all the updates and stuff that would need doing again as well!
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Another vote for the Leopard compatible SuperDuper. The download is free however the registered version enables Smart Backup to copy all files in a short time and is much faster than the free version.
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Another vote for SuperDuper! here.

I don't want to have to manually do anything. Once SuperDuper! is set up, it automatically keeps an exact copy of your internal drive. Your internal crashes, you restart your Mac from your backup and keep on going until you have time to deal with the failed drive. This is particularly useful if you only have a single computer.

Time Machine is great tool for those that have never become accustomed to backing up their systems, for a 2nd backup, or for those that need to keep multiple copies of the same file. It is not encrypted, and anyone that has access to the drive, has access to your files.

The article MHC pointed you to, is a good read for anyone looking for the right back up solution. (I get the mag at home, so had read it a couple of days ago.) Do a little reading, there's not a single solution that's right for all, but there will be one, or some combination that will be right for you.

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