There are nearly 100 Mac OS X programs one can use to back up a hard disk. On an almost daily basis, I find updates and entirely new backup programs, and developers seem intent on inventing entirely new ways of approaching the age-old problem of keeping your data safe. In Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac, I go into great detail about developing a backup strategy, selecting media, setting up a backup system, and recovering data when the need arises. And I also discuss the criteria you should consider when choosing backup software. But there’s no way I could keep the book even approximately up to date with details of every Mac backup program, so instead I’ve listed them in this online appendix. My intention is to update it regularly so that it will be a reasonably comprehensive and reliable resource.
Because I know people will ask, I want to say a few words about what is, and is not, in these lists:
- Backup vs. synchronization software: Most of these programs focus entirely on backups, though some are primarily synchronization tools or remote copying tools that include backup capabilities. With only a couple of exceptions, every program in these tables claims to be usable for backups. As it turns out, some "backup" programs are really synchronization programs, and some "syncing" programs are excellent backup programs! How can you tell the difference? For starters, ignore the name—names are often misleading! In this appendix, I’ve divided each table into two broad groups: programs I personally classify as “backup software,” meaning they’re able to create bootable duplicates, versioned backups, or both; and everything else, which I lump together under “Synchronization and Copying Products.”
- Backup software vs. backup services: These tables include quite a few online backup services, most of which include their own software. There are a few cases in which multiple backup providers use the same software, and those are listed separately by provider, rather than by program. Some online backup software can also be used to make local backups, and some conventional backup software can be used to store backups online. So I’m no longer breaking out online backup services as a distinct category.
- Features aplenty: Some backup programs have hundreds of features, and it’s not feasible for me to list every one of them here. If you discover that your favorite feature from your favorite program is missing, please understand that there are limits to how much testing I can perform and how many columns I can put in a table! The features I list here correspond to the discussion in the book; they're the ones that I think are most critical to know about when deciding on backup software. However, having more features doesn’t necessarily make a program better. In fact, some of the programs with the fewest entries in these tables are among my favorites. Look for the features that are most important for your needs.
- Enterprise-oriented software: Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac is for people who are backing up a single computer or a small network—a handful of Macs at most. If you need to back up dozens or hundreds of Macs, you need some heavy-duty software (and serious hardware to go with it). I don’t discuss these situations in the book, and as a result, I don’t cover enterprise-grade backup software in these feature comparison tables either. Nor do I plan to in the future; I don’t have the time or equipment necessary to test and evaluate such products properly. Examples of enterprise-oriented Mac backup software include:
- Playing favorites: Astute readers will notice that I simply list and describe features here. I don’t rate or rank programs here. I do make some specific recommendations in Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac, but I’m trying to keep this appendix fairly objective.
Although I have made every effort to be complete and accurate, mistakes are possible. I will make every effort to correct errors I discover, though please keep in mind that some elements in these tables are open to interpretation, and your mileage may vary. Always try out backup software thoroughly before making a decision to use something long-term.
To make the data more easily digestible, I’ve broken it down into four tables, which you can access from the tabs above, and which I list below.
- Basic Features: price, main backup capabilities, compatibility
- Destinations (Targets): what media you can back up to
- Versioning Features: rolling versioned backups, snapshots, exclusions, etc.
- Other Features: compression, restoration, metadata, etc.