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  1. #1
    Best software for backing up

    Member Since
    May 24, 2012
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    Best software for backing up
    I use TimeMachine to back up my iMac (running OSX 10.6.8). But I also want to back up to an external harddrive which I carry around and use when I am away from my desktop. Which software (free) is best for this? I've tried simply copying the master folder but it invariably gets into trouble and hangs (the error message is something like "___ (folder) cannot be copied because it already exists", but I think it is because the path length is too long). I've even used a software called SyncTwoFolders but it got into the same problem (I think). I'm now copying the folders one by one, a laborious process but it seems to get the job done.

    Is there some software out there that will do the job properly for me? Ideally, the backup drive will be easily accessible from other computers (including PC) and I can re-sync the two folders when I get back to the office.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Best software for backing up

    Member Since
    Jan 28, 2007
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    Tampa
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    Specs:
    iMac 21 inch
    Time machine should be backing it up. check options on time machine from the system preferences

  3. #3
    Best software for backing up

    Member Since
    May 24, 2012
    Posts
    25
    Hiya frankmezz,

    Thanks for the quick response. Yes, Time Machine is backing it up. But I tend to leave the TM drive attached so that it can do its job, . What I want to do is to have another harddrive just for those files that I use. These are all the documents and media files I have amassed over the years (about 500 GB).

    So:
    a) can I use TM to back up to two drives? One for the complete backup and another for the user files? It is very convenient that in iOS, all the files I need are kept within the User directory.
    b) if so, how?
    c) if not, what software do I use?

    Many thanks, mingteck.

  4. #4
    Best software for backing up
    osxx's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 19, 2008
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    houston texas
    Posts
    4,695
    Specs:
    09 MBP 8GB ram 500GB HD OS 10.9 32B iPad 4 32GB iPhone 5 iOs7 2TB TC Apple TV3
    Yes on Mountain Lion you can back up to several different drives. You might need to use something like the included WD smart ware for a specific app backup. I have 2 TM backups one at home the other at work I find its really all I need currently.

  5. #5
    Best software for backing up
    Aqua's Avatar
    Member Since
    Sep 05, 2007
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    Canada
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    Specs:
    Macbook Pro, 2.4GHz Core2 Duo 10.6.8, MacMini
    You could also try Carbon Copy Cloner..
    invincible ignorance is an example of ignorance that can not be removed by any amount of evidence. It's now a widespread form of pollution. (Revised quote) An apple a day, keeps the psychiatrist away.. If you play a Windows install CD backwards it has satanic verses

  6. #6
    Best software for backing up

    Member Since
    May 24, 2012
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    25
    Thanks a heap, people. The most important thing here is: can I access the files in a PC?

  7. #7
    Best software for backing up
    mrplow's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 01, 2007
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    6,759
    Specs:
    27" iMac i7 (2011) 10.10, iPhone6, iPad Air 2, AppleTV2
    If it's just media files you could just run a sync job between your media folders and folders on the external. Run it each time you connect it to update any changed files.

    There are several sync apps on the Mac store but you could also do it in Automator

    If you don't have any single files greater than 4gb you can format the disk as FAT32 which is multi platform compatible.

    Alternatively invest in Paragon NTFS and format as NTFS so you can handle files > 4gb and read/write on Mac and PC
    External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

    Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - top right of this post

  8. #8
    Best software for backing up

    Member Since
    May 24, 2012
    Posts
    25
    Dear mrplow,

    Thank you for the most useful reply so far. I found out that Time Machine does the same backup on both external drives (I only want the media and document folders in the second drive but complete backup on the first). I tried CCC but it gave me an error message (which I forgot to copy down before closing - it didn't seem important, about some exe file which I am not interested in). When I compared the two directories, they're almost the same (356.25 GB in the original and 365.31 in the destination). As long as the media and document files are OK, I don't mind that some stray files and links that I don't use are broken along the way. The problem is that I chuck so many things into the drive that there must be loads of files I don't really need but cannot be bothered to check and delete. Also, I notice that when I copy one file to another destination, additional bytes are added to the file. I assume that's alright. I'll use DiffMerge to compare the two directories to see if they correspond (at least the main ones).

    So, it does appear that I have backed up the master directory I wanted. Or have I? I'm now thinking of using another application like DiffMerge (from SourceGear, I believe a reasonably trusted source) to pick up future updates.

    So far, I haven't had any files larger than 2GB, let alone 4GB. My drives at home have problems with 2GB so it doesn't look like I'll be needing NTFS anytime soon, .

    So a final question to round up:
    Ideally, I want to back up to two drives in different ways. One, a full backup using Time Machine and the second one, just my documents and media files. I still haven't found a satisfactory way to do this easily. Currently, I backed up the second drive using CCC and plan to use DiffMerge to help me manually update the second drive each time. Any better solutions?

    Many thanks everyone for all your help. You're awesome.

  9. #9
    Best software for backing up
    mrplow's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 01, 2007
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    6,759
    Specs:
    27" iMac i7 (2011) 10.10, iPhone6, iPad Air 2, AppleTV2
    I don't know what your mean by master folder but here's what I suggest.

    Use a Time Machine backup as a rolling, ongoing, full system backup.

    Identify the folders with your critical data. For this example lets say its your music, pictures, video and documents folders.
    Create four equivalent folders on the external drive.

    Use a tool like Synkron to copy the files. What you do is enter music (Mac HD) as the source and music (ext HD) as the destination. Repeat for the other critical folders.

    Synkron will remember these folder pairs so you just connect the external, run Synkron and it will byte-for-byte copy the files to the external. They should be, and will be identical in every way.

    Using a sync tool like this means that after the first time where it will copy all files, the subsequent times will only copy new and changed files so will be quicker.
    External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

    Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - top right of this post

  10. #10
    Best software for backing up

    Member Since
    May 24, 2012
    Posts
    25
    Yes, indeed, Synkron looks like the answer I need. I have however, downloaded CrashPlan, which allows me to do something similar. Synkron sounds better if it is a byte-for-byte copy - i.e. everything is identical, including filesize. I will download it and check it out. See which works better for my needs. I'll make a last post in a day or two to tell everyone of my experience and then close this thread. Many thanks, mrplow.

  11. #11
    Best software for backing up

    Member Since
    May 24, 2012
    Posts
    25
    Hi everyone,

    Sorry, bad news. I tried up backup using CrashPlan but the backup folder was half the size of the original, and no error messages. So, I tried Synkron. The number of red lines and error messages it generated was something scary. Lots of files could not be copied with unknown errors (see attached image). Some were whole folders.

    Anyone with any clue why? I've tried copying the files individually and they seem to be alright.

    Many thanks.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #12
    Best software for backing up
    mrplow's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 01, 2007
    Location
    UK
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    6,759
    Specs:
    27" iMac i7 (2011) 10.10, iPhone6, iPad Air 2, AppleTV2
    If both tools have failed to copy files/folders it suggests its something to do with the contents of the folder(s).

    But there are other sync tools on the Mac App Store to try like 'Folder Sync', though I've never had any issues with Synkron there may be a particular scenario it's not handling for you

    Without specifics it's hard to debug remotely.
    External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

    Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - top right of this post

  13. #13
    Best software for backing up

    Member Since
    May 24, 2012
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    Ya, maybe, but what? There are so many error statements that I don't know where to start. Esp. if the error message is something like:
    Error copying file.....:Unknown error

    Maybe if I ask the software developers...

    Also, if I copy them manually one by one (i.e. one folder at a time - I find the biggest problems when I do this is with folders with too many layers of subfolders. When I go in deeper and copy at lower levels, they copy ok again), they seem to copy OK. With over 200,000 files, I don't fancy checking them one by one. Manual copying already takes me a whole day.

    BTW, what's the difference between sync tools and backup tools? They seem to do the same thing... Actually, I'd like to have a growing backup even as I delete files and folders. My desktop is a limited harddrive (500 GB) so I cannot keep everything on it. Is it possible to have a backup system which backs up new files but doesn't delete old ones?

    My next step now is to try and contact the developers...

  14. #14
    Best software for backing up
    mrplow's Avatar
    Member Since
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    Quote Originally Posted by mingteck View Post
    Also, if I copy them manually one by one (i.e. one folder at a time - I find the biggest problems when I do this is with folders with too many layers of subfolders. When I go in deeper and copy at lower levels, they copy ok again), they seem to copy OK.
    You have just about answered your own question there. If you can't make the copy work 'manually'........
    I suspect you have too longer a path on some files for the tool or file system to cope with. It'd be interesting to know if this problem still occurred if the file system were MacOS Journaled?

    BTW, what's the difference between sync tools and backup tools? They seem to do the same thing...
    Fundamentally they do the same thing - make a copy of your files.
    A sync tool analyses the files in the source and the destination and copy's files and folders that are different.
    Some backup tools, like Time Machine, do similar. It's called incremental backup. Some backup tools take a copy of everything, every time. This takes longer but ultimately achieves the same thing.

    Actually, I'd like to have a growing backup even as I delete files and folders. My desktop is a limited harddrive (500 GB) so I cannot keep everything on it. Is it possible to have a backup system which backs up new files but doesn't delete old ones?
    Time machine backups keeps historical views of your folder structure for as long as it has space on the backup.
    Other than that you'll have to find a sync/backup tool that only copies new files but doesn't cascade deletions. It becomes more complex at that point because no automated system can know which files you genuinely want deleting and which you want to keep in a backup. So it's likely some form of manual intervention will be required here.
    External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

    Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - top right of this post

  15. #15
    Best software for backing up

    Member Since
    May 24, 2012
    Posts
    25
    Hi there, everyone,

    Still no joy. I just discovered that both CrashPlan and Synkron back up files which cannot be simply accessed like normal folders. They both need to have the applications installed. Synkron didn't reply to my request for help but CrashPlan did. It seems that there are permissions issues to resolve and also encryption which results in the backup folder being smaller and inaccessible.

    Is there no easy way for me to do this? All I want is to copy, byte-for-byte, the User folder on my Mac to an external harddrive. No fancy encryption or compacting. Clean copies that I can access like normal.

    I can understand that some application files might become unusable as a result but I don't really mind this. I just want to keep a handy harddrive of all my own files - .doc, .xls, .pdf, .avi and so on. And I want the harddrive to be readable by most computers out there. I don't have big files so I don't need the drive to be specially formatted.

    Can someone recommend a free software that will successfully do this?

    This is getting so frustrating...

    Many thanks, everyone.

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