How to back up

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For decades, I have backed up my essential personal files on hard disks (before that on floppies).

I good friend saw me doing that a few days ago and reacted "That's silly! Get a portable drive." She mentioned a Seagate device for less than a hundred dollars.

So you know: Documents "info" is 10GB; Apps is 24GB (176 items); Desktop is 1.5MB (16 items)

In a disaster, the apps could be replaced so presumably no need to back them up? On the Desktop is one folder with a dozen or so small files in it.

I will appreciate any thoughts/recommendations.

Thank you.
 
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I am a redundant backer upper. I have a portable crucial ssd that is plugged into my work hub. When I get to work and plug it in and Carbon Copy Cloner makes a backup. I also have a Time Machine backup at home. When I get on my home wifi, Time Machine backs up to my Time Capsule (yes, it is the last version of the 2TB time capsule and still working too!). All very important files are backed up to the cloud to my Google storage when any changes are made.

Everyone has their preference for what drive they like. I think I have used them all. I will say the one brand I have had to replace the most is Western Digital - although they do have a good warranty replacement department! I recommend getting one that is larger than your current internal drive. Yes, apps can be reinstalled - if you remember all you have installed and where you got the app plus any activation codes, if you had to payed for it.

Just my thoughts from someone who has had more than one drive crash in her life!

Lisa
 
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For decades, I have backed up my essential personal files on hard disks (before that on floppies).

I good friend saw me doing that a few days ago and reacted "That's silly! Get a portable drive." She mentioned a Seagate device for less than a hundred dollars.....................
Hello - my backup plan is similar to Lisa - I'm backing up a M2 MBAir and M3 iMac using Samsung and Crucial 1 TB SSDs - these are about $100 each on Amazon HERE (SanDisk is another brand I've used but there are more!). I also duplicate my SSD backups, i.e. 2 SSDs each for TM (Time Machine) and CCC (Carbon Copy Cloner) - in addition, I use an online backup service for each computer, Backblaze which is constantly backing up selected directories/files. TM is at least a good start but consider several in addition, i.e. be redundant! - good luck. Dave




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Belt & Braces here!

Sonoma M1
Time Machine to Toshiba SSD.
Carbon Copy Clone of Mac HD to Seagate SSD.
SuperDuper! clone of Mac HD to Seagate SSD.

Hopefully at least one of them will help dig me out of the mire if needed!!
 
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Multi backup here. TM to a Samsung SSD, Carbon Copy clones my home directory to a network drive. I also use ChronoSync to keep my pictures on two other drives. I have SuperDuper, but don't use it as I don't like the interface.

The key to backups is for you to answer the question, "What would I do if the drive died today and I lost everything?" If the answer is "not much," then you don't need much backup. If the answer is "Panic! I'm ruined!" then you need robust backups. I suspect you will end up, like most of us, in the middle, somewhere about "I would hate to lose the irreplaceable stuff like pictures, etc., but I'll live," then a good backup strategy might be to have a TM backup to one external and a CC/SD/CS clone to another.

I have multiple backups of my photos because I once had my internal drive fail catastrophically, and the backup drive died on the same day, so I lost about 8000 irreplaceable pictures of my family, etc. So now I have photos on four separate drives, and check them frequently.
 
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I use TM to a Seagate Drive, and my photos are also backed up to a Cloud directory. Most things can be replaced, but photos never can be, once lost they are gone forever.
 
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OK.
Reading your comments, this is what I think I should do.
From Amazon ...

Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive HDD — USB 3.0 for PC, Mac, PlayStation, & Xbox -1-Year Rescue Service​

... for $75.

As I read its description, it connects to my iMac with a USB chord (provided). Then drag and drop.

Of the 10GB at Documents, which I think is what I'm really talking about (Yes?), many of the files I could survive a loss. MacInWin got it: "... but I'll live". But there are others I really would prefer not to. I have very few pictures/photos.

So this device looks simple to use, not too expensive, and enough space.

Do you agree?

PS A couple of you mentioned TM
What is that?

As always, thank you all for being here.
 
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OK.
Reading your comments, this is what I think I should do.
From Amazon ...

Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive HDD — USB 3.0 for PC, Mac, PlayStation, & Xbox -1-Year Rescue Service​

... for $75.

As I read its description, it connects to my iMac with a USB chord (provided). Then drag and drop.

Of the 10GB at Documents, which I think is what I'm really talking about (Yes?), many of the files I could survive a loss. MacInWin got it: "... but I'll live". But there are others I really would prefer not to. I have very few pictures/photos.

So this device looks simple to use, not too expensive, and enough space.

Do you agree?

PS A couple of you mentioned TM
What is that?

As always, thank you all for being here.
Well, let me just address the TM question - TM = Time Machine which is Apple's free backup program built into macOS - so why not use it! Most of us do - as I mentioned in my post both of my computers have duplicate SSDs for TM backups, but being cautious I also use CCC (Carbon Copy Cloner - SD or Super Duper is a similar alternative), another backup option. Check Apple's TM Article HERE - you should have more than just a 'single' backup plan and also consider the choice of HDD vs. SSD - I'll let others 'chime in' - Dave
 
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As I read its description, it connects to my iMac with a USB chord (provided). Then drag and drop.

Personally, I would strongly recommend one of the suggested backup cloning applications, SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner, and use their incremental backup option set for a schedule that suits you and your usage.

An additional backup using Time Machine might not be a bad idea either and just let it do its thing as well.

I cannot recommend using any sort of drag and drop method unless you had really specific reasons to do so. 😉



- Patrick
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A couple of thoughts. TM (or Time Machine) under Ventura, which your profile says you are running, insists on "owning" the entire partition it is given to use. So, if you get that 2TB drive and make it for TM, all 2TB will be dedicated to TM and only TM. CCC and SD can share the drive with other uses, as long as it's not TM.

To get around TM's demands, you can use Disk Utility to create two separate partitions on the drive and let TM have one and use the other for CCC/SD. But then you have all backups on ONE device, and if it dies, you lose all backups.

Another thought is that TM will force a format to APFS in the partition it controls, and APFS is not optimized for rotating drives, which that one seems to be from the description. That's not a huge deal, if all it is used for is backups as the changes should be smaller than if it were a drive for every day use.

And finally, depending on how you copy the files from your internal drive to this external drive, the files may expand significantly. macOS compresses files as much as it can, but when those sparse files, as they are called, are copied, they may or may not be expanded to full size. That may or may not be an issue, just something to be aware of. If you have only 20-25GB of data to put on a 2TB drive, it will not run into problems, but don't be surprised if that 25GB of data shows as 30 or more GB on the external.

As for just copying "Documents, " manually, it would be better if you copied the entire folder with your name on it that you can see in /Users folder. That's ALL of your stuff. If you use CCC or SD, you can select that folder as the source and CCC/SD will handle it for you. TM backs up pretty much everything.

What would I do? I would look to see if I can get two drives, smaller, maybe 1TB SSDs instead of rotating drives, and use one for TM and the other for CCC/SD. That way I have two backups on two devices in two different formats. Yes, it costs a bit more, so if that's a restricting factor the other option is to just have the one drive and use either CCC or SD to make the backup so that the rest of the drive is available for anything else I might have. TM is good, but that demand that it have the control of the entire drive would mean that whatever device/partition I give to TM is ONLY for TM.
 
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Reading your comments, this is what I think I should do.
From Amazon ...

Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive HDD — USB 3.0 for PC, Mac, PlayStation, & Xbox -1-Year Rescue Service​

... for $75.

That Seagate drive is a rotating disk hard drive (even though it is tiny and looks like an SSD). These external Seagates are inexpensive because Seagate has saved money by doing just about no testing and quality control. They have a very high failure rate. In fact, that Seagate is such a POS that it doesn't even have an on/off switch. You turn it on and off by unplugging it from your Mac!

I highly recommend this SSD:

SAMSUNG Portable SSD T7 1TB USB 3.2 External - Indigo Blue (MU-PC1T0H/AM)
$89
https://www.walmart.com/ip/SAMSUNG-...1-050MB-s-USB-3-2-Gen2-MU-PC1T0H-AM/787072688

As I read its description, it connects to my iMac with a USB chord (provided). Then drag and drop.

If you use drag and drop, you will not be backing up a lot of what is known as "meta-data". Meta-data is support files for applications. They are important if you want to later restore your applications and have them set up exactly as you had them previously.

I personally recommend this clone backup program:

SuperDuper! (free/$28)
https://shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/SuperDuperDescription.html

SuperDuper! is easy to use, it isn't cluttered up with lots of options that you won't understand, and its proven to be extremely reliable.

TimeMachine comes with your Mac, and it's nice that it is free and from Apple, but I've heard from way too many users lately about it failing for me to be able to recommend it.
 
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TimeMachine comes with your Mac, and it's nice that it is free and from Apple, but I've heard from way too many users lately about it failing for me to be able to recommend it.

Thank you for your comment regarding the dubious reliability of Time Machine Randy as I thought it was just my experience and a few other Mac acquaintances who suffered with just too many goof-ups to rely on it as a proper and reliable backup. Some other local Mac Apple fanboys considered us crazy, and I have never trusted it since.
Carbon Copy Cloner on the other hand has been absolutely reliable for my usage, and SuperDuper! looks like a good alternative.



- Patrick
=======
 

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I echo what has been said: two full backups, one CCC backup to Samsung 2 TB SSD, one TM backup to HDD.
 
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Interesting topic, as I have already mentioned, I back-up (daily) with TM, and my important data (photos) is also backed up to a cloud, every thing else I could live without if lost, so is buying an extra drive, and the programme to carry out the cloning cost effective (I know, only I can really answer that), but it seems this could be an endless circle, will I need another backup incase SD or CC fails. Is TM really that bad, in which case is there any point in using it at all.
 
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... Is TM really that bad, in which case is there any point in using it at all.

Let me talk about this a bit. TM has always been a more complex way to backup than a clone backup. You can do a Web search and see that TM has been popular among users, but occasionally it screws up. It has never, in the past, been "bad" per se, it's an option with advantages and disadvantages compared to going with cloning software.

However, recently things have really changed. First, TM now non-optionally will re-format your external backup drive as APFS. If you choose a backup drive that is a rotating disk hard drive (RDHD or HDD), your backup drive is going to be an extremely lazy performer because APFS is not optimized for RDHD's.

So many folks are buying SSD's as backup drives. APFS is optimized for SSD's. But then another problem has come up. All of a sudden users are reporting that their TM backups aren't performing as they are supposed to. Their backup disk fills up, and instead of then going and deleting older backups in favor of more recent backups, they slow down and ultimately fail. No one has perfectly explained why this happens, or come up with a perfect solution. But I suspect that the problem is that SSD's really, and sincerely, don't like to be filled up.

Some users have used a work-around to avoid the above problem. That is, they get an SSD that is as much as three times the size of their internal hard drive. Thus they avoid ever filling up their external SSD. The only real downside to this is that if you need more than about a 4TB SSD, SSD's start getting unreasonably expensive compared to a RDHD.

A clone backup, using CCC or SD! does not have a similar problem. Generally you get a backup drive, ideally an SSD, that is about the size of your internal drive, or ideally a bit bigger, and things go swimmingly.

It is REALLY important to have a backup of your internal drive. The internal SSD's in recent Mac's seem to be more reliable than internal drives have ever been. But if you like your data, you should back it up. If your data is INVALUABLE, you might want to have TWO BACKUPS or more. It even makes sense to have more than one sort of backup. You have to decide for yourself if that makes sense for your needs. It's sort of like deciding how many locks you should have on the front door to your house, and what kind of lock each should be. You should have at least one, but more than one, and maybe a deadbolt, might be a good idea.
 
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@Randy B. Singer many thanks, my Mac is 500 Gb, my back up drive (TM) is 1 TB SSD, and it is all it is used for. It seems to working correctly, with daily back ups for the last month, then weekly going back to my first back up in Feb last year, and has currently 335 GB free, so I am content with how it is working. As said my important data (photos) are also back up to the cloud. And currently am happy with my regime, and have no intention of buying a second SSD to make a back up clone.
 
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If you want a good review of the latest TM strengths and weaknesses, here is a good article to read about it.
If you want more, search for "time machine" at that website. Howard has written a lot of articles on TM, and has a free utility, The Time Machine Mechanic (T2M2) that can tell you what is going on with your backups. I use T2M2 periodically to verify that all is well.

All users should be aware that none of the "cloner" applications can actually clone the internal drive on Apple Silicon drives. There is a small, hidden, encrypted, and sealed Container in the Fabric Storage that is not accessible to any non-Apple application and which is needed in the boot process. So, technically, because they cannot get to that Container, the cloners don't truly clone, they make backups. That includes both SD! and CCC, as well as the command line tool asr. It's not a failure of the application, it's how Apple has now constructed the Fabric Storage and boot process on Apple Silicon. As a result, the best the cloners can do is to copy the user files and what system files they have access to, but not the full internal storage. Apple has also made it slightly more complicated to boot from an external drive, as the drive has to be designated as a boot drive or it won't be bootable, no matter what files may be on it. Another article on what makes a boot drive:
Read the comments as well as there is more detail from users in various situations.

Finally, while a "clone" can be made bootable, it should not be used to "clone" back to the internal storage to rebuiild the internal structure. The reason for that is how Apple now has checks for the integrity of the system on Mx Macs, using a signed system volume (SSV), encrypted by Apple and made invisible to the user, to hold the verified version of macOS, and then creating a sparse copy of that volume from which the machine is actually booted and run. Trying to clone into the System area will result in security violations and trigger a complete reinstallation of macOS into that SSV, and an new sparse boot copy will be made. Given that sequence, it is better that on an Mx Mac the user should just reinstall the OS through Recovery and then restore from the backup, TM, "clone," or just a simple copy, to get back to where the drive was before the failure that triggered the issue.

Let me be clear, I'm not anti-clone software, I have three apps (SD!, CCC, and ChronoSync) and use two regularly. They work well as tools for large copy and synchronization actions that can be scheduled to occur whenever the user wants. And they are valuable backups. But I also use TM because it's dead easy to set up and works invisibly for a second or third backup.
 
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TM has worked flawlessly for me, for many years. I back up to a RAID array, which is not the cheapest solution, but if any one drive dies, I can pop in a replacement, without losing any data. One box, one cable, tying up only one USB port, and the lack of worries, makes it worth the price (now spread out over four years and counting.)

Less costly (up front, at least) is an external drive using TM, in combination with iCloud as a fall-back. The monthly charges for cloud storage do add up over time, but are small enough to be hardly noticeable in practice for the average user - and both services run autonomously, in the background.

One thing to keep in mind is that we're talking backups, not archives. TM will eventually run out of room, at which point it starts deleting your oldest files. This may not be what you want, if you value photos or videos from years ago. This pruning can be delayed if your TM drive is big enough, but cloud storage, I think, is the better archiving solution, provided only that the file formats remain readable in the future. Media formats change too rapidly for any device to be future-proof. (MacWrite files on a Zip drive with SCSI interface? Good luck.)
 
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One thing to keep in mind is that we're talking backups, not archives. TM will eventually run out of room, at which point it starts deleting your oldest files. This may not be what you want, if you value photos or videos from years ago. This pruning can be delayed if your TM drive is big enough, but cloud storage, I think, is the better archiving solution, provided only that the file formats remain readable in the future. Media formats change too rapidly for any device to be future-proof. (MacWrite files on a Zip drive with SCSI interface? Good luck.)
Though I agree in principle, you should NOT have your back up as the primary location for your valued data e.g. photos. If you have lost or misplaced some data, and you know it is on your back up, replace it in the primary storage area, and pruning your back up will not become an issue.
 

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If you use drag and drop, you will not be backing up a lot of what is known as "meta-data". Meta-data is support files for applications. They are important if you want to later restore your applications and have them set up exactly as you had them previously.

I personally recommend this clone backup program:

SuperDuper! (free/$28)
SuperDuper!

SuperDuper! is easy to use, it isn't cluttered up with lots of options that you won't understand, and its proven to be extremely reliable.

TimeMachine comes with your Mac, and it's nice that it is free and from Apple, and it is excelent here but I've heard from way too many users lately about it failing for me to be able to recommend it.
SuperDuper sounds great. Has anyone tried other backup programs such as Carbon Copy Cloner or ChronoSync?
 

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