Looking for recommendations for backup software for Mac

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Hi,

I'm looking for recommendations for backup software for my Mac.
I'd like some form of data de-duplication.

Time Machine is so far removed from being a usable program that
I'd prefer not to even discuss it ... but I suppose I have to mention some
of its shortcomings to explain why I don't want it:
- no obvious way of saying "restore selected file to original location"
(the choice is "restore to ...", and I have to use Finder to select the
location. Ignoring the time required to do that, Finder will *not* let
me navigate to some directories, like /usr)
- no obvious way of saying "hey, here's a list of files to restore"
- no obvious way of saying "when you restore from that list of files,
don't restore any file that already exists"
- too many secret/poorly-documented/inaccessible ways of excluding files from backup
- arrogance over its files. (If I want to purge backup files, then let me do it!)
- no easy access to developers (if I have a problem or an enhancement request).

I tried using qRecall, which is fast and extremely efficient, but I keep on
butting my head against some of its limitations (including the lack of
the ability to provide a file with the names of files to restore).
I am impressed with the responsiveness with qRecall's developers, and
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it for the vast majority of users.

I suppose that what I want is something like a "tar" or "fbackup" for the
21st century ... the same features as we've had in those backup programs
for decades with data deduplication added.

Suggestions welcome!

thanks,

Stan
 
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SuperDuper is my choice. Back up to an external drive, and the external is then bootable. If you purchase the registered version at $29, a weekly back up using Smart Backup feature will keep the external a cloned copy in about three minutes or so.

The only downside is it does a full clone of your hard drive. Another may be Carbon Copy Cloner, a donation ware program.
 
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I use both CCC and Time Machine in 2 different locations redundancy never hurts.
 
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I'm looking for recommendations for backup software for my Mac.
I'd like some form of data de-duplication.

Time Machine is so far removed from being a usable program that
I'd prefer not to even discuss it ... but I suppose I have to mention some
of its shortcomings to explain why I don't want it:
- no obvious way of saying "restore selected file to original location"
(the choice is "restore to ...", and I have to use Finder to select the
location.

I don't understand your complaint. You go "back in time", highlight the desired file, then select "Restore" down in the bottom corner. The file gets restored to its exact original location.

Ignoring the time required to do that, Finder will *not* let
me navigate to some directories, like /usr)

Finder normally hides folders like /usr. As a result, folders like those are invisible in Time Machine. You can easily turn on the ability to see invisible files/folders with a Terminal command, or just use a menubar extra like DesktopUtility. You can then see those files/folders and recover them.

- no obvious way of saying "hey, here's a list of files to restore"

Does any backup software do that?

- no obvious way of saying "when you restore from that list of files,
don't restore any file that already exists"

It's dead obvious. It'll prompt you if the file exists already, giving you options to "Keep Original", Keep Both", or "Replace". For multiple files, just put a check in the box to "Apply to All" and call it a day.

- too many secret/poorly-documented/inaccessible ways of excluding files from backup

There's an exclusion list in the preferences. What else is there? What's so secret about this?

- arrogance over its files. (If I want to purge backup files, then let me do it!)

Enter the Time Machine. Select a version of the file you want to purge; right-click and select "Delete all Backups of…"

- no easy access to developers (if I have a problem or an enhancement request).

Well of course. This is a feature of the OS. It's not open source software. Look… if Time Machine doesn't meet your needs, then I'm not going to knock you for it. Use what works for you. But most of your complaints are grossly invalid.

EDIT: it's probably worth mentioning that it is very possible to manually browse the backups yourself and manually cull items.
 
C

chas_m

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Beautifully put, lifeisabeach. The "issue" this user has with Time Machine is down mostly to I&A.

However, if one simply doesn't want to use Time Machine for whatever reason, there's cloning as (IMO) the best second option. Two superb programs among several that do this are SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner. I use CCC myself.
 

chscag

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Yes, definitely a great response and very well detailed. I use a combination of Time Machine and CCC (two separate external hard drives) for my backup regimen. And by the way, as an old Windows user for years, and sometime Linux user plus work related Unix user, I find Time Machine to be one of the best backup programs for its simplicity and ease of use. And, you can't beat the price. :)
 
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I don't understand your complaint.

Clearly ... despite my preemptive attempts :(

You go "back in time", highlight the desired file, then select
"Restore" down in the bottom corner.
The file gets restored to its exact original location.

Argh...what developer puts "Restore" in the out-of-the-way bottom right corner like that?

I had done the obvious Mac thing... I highlighted the file and right clicked.
A number of options were shown, including "Restore ..." (which *won't* let you restore back to /usr if that's
where it came from), but the one blazingly obvious option that **** well should be there isn't: "Restore".
Sigh. I'll add it to my laundry list of things that need to be fixed when I get to be CTO of Apple :)

So, thanks for pointing that out for me ... now, to the majority of your post ...

There's a communication problem ... I'm writing from the viewpoint of a *very* experienced
developer of backup products ... and you're answering from an end-user's viewpoint.

You say:
Finder normally hides folders like /usr.
(which I pointed out) and:
You can easily turn on the ability to see invisible files/folders with a Terminal command, or just use a menubar extra like DesktopUtility. You can then see those files/folders and recover them.

Note for those who follow the above link and try DesktopUtility: it isn't obvious, but once you've started DesktopUtility, it won't show up as a program like, say, TextEdit or Disk Utility ... it shows up (if at all) as a small gear icon on the menu bar. Clicking the gear gets you a small menu, of which one choice is "Show Invisible Files". It seems to show up when only when certain apps have the focus ... I didn't experiment long enough to determine which/why. (E.g., active for TextEdit, not active for Safari).

Aside from the above ... there are a number of ways to make files
"invisible" on the Mac. I'm not sure which mechanisms DesktopUtility
(or "inVisibles" utility) can handle ... but it certainly isn't all of them, and doesn't handle things like /usr, as a quick test would have shown.

Note that /usr (and many similar files) are not *invisible* in the normal OS sense. They simply have some attribute that triggers a misplaced sense of over-protectiveness in Finder, and it decides to not display them.

I'm curious: what "easy" Terminal command would make /usr visible in TM?

Does any backup software do that? [accept a list of files to restore]

Heck yes! Good backup software does! For decades, tar, cpio, backup, backup, and a number of other Unix / Linux backup programs have had that ability, as well as every backup program I've seen on mainframes.

Simply put: it's such an obvious requirement for a backup system, I was shocked to not find it in TimeMachine or QRecall.

Note: pointing to something widespread, like, say, Windows Backup or TM, and saying "it doesn't have this capability" doesn't constitute a valid counter-argument. Note that I said "good backup software", not "popular backup software" or "widespread backup software" :)

It's dead obvious. It'll prompt you if the file exists already,
giving you options to "Keep Original", Keep Both", or "Replace".
For multiple files, just put a check in the box to "Apply to All" and call it a day.

I'd forgotten that TM's "Restore" did that ... some other Mac backup products don't.
Thanks for the reminder!

There's an exclusion list in the preferences. What else is there? What's so secret about this?

Sigh ... not even close to what I was referring to. The exclusion list in TM's preferences is used to exclude files to backup ... not to decide which files to restore.

Here's a scenario:

(Terminal)
rm *txt*

then you say "oops..." :)

Now, try to use TM to restore those files ... and as a bonus, let's say you have a file containing a list of the files you just deleted. With TM, The TM "search" facility searches *FAR* too much ... it has no means of saying "files with 'txt' in the current directory. No...entering txt into the search field (and clicking on "titles", not "content"), might get you thousands of files from your entire account ... not just a few dozen from your cwd.

BTW, the easiest, although non-obvious to most users, method would probably be: click on "kind" to sort by file "kind", highlight all the files except for the directories (which will be at the start or end, depending upon the number of clicks on "kind"), click on "Restore" (bottom right corner of screen). Then, when asked about restoring over existing files, check "apply to all" and select "Keep Original". Note: this approach will, unfortunately, also bring in other files you might have deleted in the current directory.

Wow...a lot harder than: tar xvf mybackup -T list_of_files

Enter the Time Machine. Select a version of the file you want to purge; right-click and select "Delete all Backups of…"

Sigh. I know whereof I speak. Try this search with google:

delete timemachine backups

Although a small percent of the hits are for the 'easy' problem you refer to, the majority deal with the fact that TimeMachine is pernicious. It goes out of its way to use obscure and/or undocumented Mac OS APIs to make many of its backup files undeleteable. Indeed, most users who try to delete a TM backup directory usually end up having to "reformat" the entire backup drive. QRecall keeps its backup data in files that mere mortals can delete. (Yeah, that means I can delete my backups ... so what, they're *mine*, and I *should* be able to delete them! If I want to screw up my backups, then let me ... that's why the (original) Darwin is important :)

Well of course. This is a feature of the OS. It's not open source software. Look… if Time Machine doesn't meet your needs, then I'm not going to knock you for it. Use what works for you. But most of your complaints are grossly invalid.

So, we see that (a) most of my complaints are completely valid, (b) I never implied that I thought TM or some other products wouldn't meet the needs of most users (indeed, I recommend QRecall), and ( c) I'm asking for suggestions about *other* backup software I could use. I probably should have used the phrase "backup products" to indicate my willingness to pay for good software.

BTW, here's the Finder information for /usr, as returned by getxattr () for the sole xattr it has (com.apple.FinderInfo):

com.apple.FinderInfo : usr
0000 : 0000 0000 0000 0000 4000 0000 0000 0000 ........@.......
0010 : 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 ................

Stan
 
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I love SuperDuper!

I never miss an opportunity to praise this software. I am not in any way connected with the product except as a very happy customer.

I am usually very quick to criticise software that doesn't do as promised, so only fair to do the opposite where appropriate.

Incidentally, you also get very fast and direct support if you email for help :)
 
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Note for those who follow the above link and try DesktopUtility: it isn't obvious, but once you've started DesktopUtility, it won't show up as a program like, say, TextEdit or Disk Utility ... it shows up (if at all) as a small gear icon on the menu bar. Clicking the gear gets you a small menu, of which one choice is "Show Invisible Files". It seems to show up when only when certain apps have the focus ... I didn't experiment long enough to determine which/why. (E.g., active for TextEdit, not active for Safari).

Of course it's in the menubar. I TOLD you it was a menubar extra. Do you even know what those are? And the rest of your "warning" is wrong on so many levels it's not even funny. It doesn't show up just when certain apps have the focus. It is persistent just as is the menubar. That's the entire point of menubar extras… to be persistent despite what app has the focus.

I'm curious: what "easy" Terminal command would make /usr visible in TM?

Why are you asking? You claim you are a developer and know how to use Google. So Google it. Then write a script to run it for you on command. That's all DesktopUtility and other similar tools do… run scripts to accomplish the task.

then you say "oops..." :)

Why would I do that? You claimed there are "too many secret/poorly-documented/inaccessible ways of excluding files from backup". There are no secret or poorly documented ways of excluding anything. Period. The fact that it doesn't support excluding specific file types using wildcards is another matter entirely.

I'm not wasting my time rebutting the rest of your post. I can't figure out if you are trolling or simply so new to OS X that you are this clueless. We've seen our fair share of arrogant switchers coming in here complaining about this or that in OS X that doesn't do EXACTLY the same things in EXACTLY the same way that they are used to. You obviously have needs in backup software that Time Machine can't meet, and there's nothing wrong with that. But you completely failed to adequately express what exactly your needs were before and how Time Machine failed to meet those needs. Furthermore, your failure to accept responsibility for that and your attempt to actually pin it on me is mind-numbingly bizarre.

A couple others have recommended backup software… SuperDuper and Carbon Copy Cloner. While those are excellent pieces of software in their own right and do meet a need that Time Machine doesn't meet for some purposes, I can tell you that neither offer features like excluding files using a wildcard (EDIT: CCC does have some advanced filters that allow to exclude specific file types). I have little doubt that there is software that will do it, and if there's one thing I'm ****ed good at, it's finding solutions if they exist. But there's no chance I'm helping you unless your attitude changes.
 
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nighthawk4: thanks, I'll check it out.

lifeisabeach: how inappropriate. The small amount of useful information was buried in too much other stuff. Re-read my original post, and you'll see that I carefully qualified my statements so a nice reply could say "you missed such and such". Of my six complaints about TM, you pointed out there were solutions to the first two ... and in each case I said "thanks". My original comment about them, of course, stands uncorrected: those things are indeed non-obvious. My Mac guru at the office said "I wouldn't have known about the Restore button in that out of the way place if I hadn't been watching Steve Job's video introducing TM". That made me feel better about missing it. (Yeah, had I had the chance to ask my guy about this earlier, I'd have left the first two points off ... but that's two out of six :)
Yes, after saying "there's no obvious way to do X", I failed to say "I want to do X". I figured it would be pretty obvious I was looking for something that would let me specify a list of files to restore, so I didn't waste valuable bytes saying that separately ... perhaps I should have.

Oh, lifesisabeach ... sometimes the emperor does indeed have no clothes on. I'm good at spotting that :)

chcag: thanks for the CCC recommendation. My Mac guy here is very happy with it too. However, it seems to be more oriented towards whole-disk backup ... not that that's bad. I'll check into it ... can't hurt to have several backup choices (something I learned the hard way back in the Commodore Amiga days).

thanks,
Stan
 
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I'm another CarbonCopyCloner user that thinks this app incredibly useful. You can even boot up from ther CCC backup HD.

I did a final back up of my whole internal HD with CCC to an external HD,
Did a fresh install of SL,
Completed all the Apple updates (except Java!),
Used “Migration Assistant” to copy my user accounts, applications (had to re-enter serial numbers on some apps) and computer settings from the CCC backup HD,
Copied bookmarks from Safari and Keychain info,
Did another Apple update,
Restarted my ’07 MBP and now it’s faster than ever! Really easy! :Cool:
 

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I use Time Machine and can get it to do everything I need it to do. It's never let me down one time. Hard Drive totally died on my iMac and was back up with a new drive and exactly where I left off in no time.
 
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chas_m writes: ... I&A ...

Ok, I'll byte :) Google thinks that the only instance of "I&A" on this web site is your post above. So ... a Google search gives the following possibilities, none of which look likely:

*** I&A Identification and Authorization
*** I&A Installation and Assembly
*** I&A Identification & Authentication
*** I&A Industry and Applications
* I&A Inventory & Appraisement (law)
* I&A Investment and Advisory (finance)
* I&A Issues and Activities (DoD CINC input to Joint Staff)
* I&A Information and Assistance (program)

Well, the last one isn't too far off the mark ... I was looking for Information and/or Assistance in finding an alternative backup product :)
 
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Never used CCC, so I cant comment on it. But I used to work for an ISP many years back and having to watch over 2 daily backups a day using Slackware Linux and do tar backups over to actual 'tapes', that sucked. Time Machine pretty much rocks.. If you come home, hard drive is dead. No problem, get new drive, install new drive, boot and use com R, Mac: Would you like to restore your system from Time Machine Backup? Click **** yes.. In an hour or two your back up and running like it never happened..

Now the only complaint I have with Time Machine (and this is prob my lack of knowledge on the issue) is it doesnt list my NAS as an optional backup drive.. I would really love to be corrected on this.. :)
 

chscag

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Now the only complaint I have with Time Machine (and this is prob my lack of knowledge on the issue) is it doesnt list my NAS as an optional backup drive.. I would really love to be corrected on this..

Besides tagging on to a two year old post....... Only those NAS devices specifically supported by Apple can be used. There are work arounds which you can search for and find. Lots of threads on this subject. I found several in the Apple Support Community Forums.
 

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