Every Mac user should have a comprehensive backup plan. If you do not, then you’re courting disaster. Sooner or later your Mac will fail, all your files will be gone. It does not happen often, but it happens, and usually without any warning. Most Mac backup plans have a couple of holes. There are mine and what I did to plug them.
My home network of Macs have what I thought to be a rather comprehensive backup plan involving multiple external storage units, multiple Macs, Time Machine, ChronoSync, and SuperDuper! Time Machine ensures that files changed on each Mac get backed up every hour. That leaves a hole of up to an hour. SuperDuper! clones each Mac to an external disk drive but the backup is only as good when it’s backed up frequently. ChronoSync copies critical files from one Mac to another for multiple backups, but still awaits a schedule, hence another hole. Finally, all the Macs and external disk drives are in my home office. Theft, hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, fire, or water damage could render every Mac and every backup useless.
Here’s how I plugged the holes.
The first hole was plugged by backing up critical files online, away from the home office. For that I used Amazon S3 and a Mac utility called Arq which does the backups in the background according to a schedule. There are many online backup services, but few do a good job of managing Mac files appropriately, though the major backup services will function just fine. The main idea is to get critical files copied nearby, but also copied elsewhere.
The second hole was plugged by an inexpensive Mac utility called SyncTime. While it has plenty of features to sync files between Macs, remote computers, and attached storage devices, what I wanted was a way to copy changed files automatically. No schedule. No waiting an hour for Time Machine. When I make a change to a file the file then gets copied to a couple of different locations; another Mac, external USB disk drive; that kind of thing.
SyncTime uses the time honored Source and Destination backup method. Select the source file or folders, select the location for them to be backed up, click to backup.
Wait! What? ‘Click’ to backup. The idea is to automate the process, not add on more steps that can be forgotten.
Fortunately, SyncTime does the one thing very well that I need done. It backups up files in the background, unattended. How? By monitoring the folders of files you want backed up. Whenever a file in that folder is changed, added, or deleted, SyncTime makes the changes on the other backup folders automatically.
Other features are included, and for many Mac users they’ll be worthwhile. Files can be excluded, files can synced in multiple directions, and so on, but what I wanted and need is the ‘Once Synced, Keep Synced’ which works in the background.
SyncTime is simple, elegant, but has enough additional functionality to be useful in many situations. ChronoSync, which I use and recommend, can backup on a schedule and is loaded with more features, but is more expensive, and has a learning curve.
If what you want is to automate the file and folder monitoring process to create instant backups of files (before Time Machine gets around to it, before SuperDuper! does the clone thing), SyncTime is a sweet solution for a low price.