Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to get back to your backups. This week we’re having one of our rare Mac features, thanks to feedback from readers and a little research. If you’re not a Mac user, you may want to skip the contents—but don’t skip the backups.
Mac backups used to be a very simple thing—you could just drag and drop your entire hard drive onto another drive (or, once, a floppy—I remember those days). But with the advent of OS X, things have gotten more complicated, so making a backup which includes program files as well as documents and data is more difficult.
The main commercial software for making complete drive mirrors (along the lines of Ghost or TrueImage for PCs) is Dantz Retrospect. Some version of Retrospect is bundled with many external hard drives, and there is a Windows version in addition to the Macintosh version. You can compare the features of different versions of the product on the Dantz website. (Retrospect will also work with earlier versions of the Mac operating system, if you’re one of those who hasn’t migrated to OS X yet.)
I also found a great review of three Mac backup products on AppleLinks.com. The author discusses Synk 5.0, Prosoft’s Data Backup, and LaCie SilverKeeper in depth, with screenshots. All of these utilities allow you to schedule file backups and to make drive mirrors. At least one of our readers has used SilverKeeper, which is freeware, with good results. All three of these products get positive reviews. Most require Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
Readers of the article also recommended the following Mac backup software:
Carbon Copy Cloner (donation-ware from Bombich Software)
YouSynchronize ($49.95 from You Software)
iMsafe (free beta until September 2005, $19 after that)
I’m not in a position to recommend any one of them above the others, but would recommend trying the freeware products first. Some of the others have free trials, so you can check them out before deciding whether to purchase.
And remember, the most important thing about any backup system is that you USE it!
More backup news next week,