Back Up Solutions

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Gixene, Oct 29, 2016.

  1. Gixene macrumors regular

    Gixene

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2016
    Location:
    Indiana
    #1
    Mods: Not sure where the best place for this post would be. It's a mixture of Mac Basics and Help, Mac Accessories and Mac Apps and Mac App Store. Please move if not in the right area.

    Hello MacRumors community,

    Long post, I apologize. The first 5 paragraphs can be skipped.

    During the summer, the MacBook 7,1 I have started showing signs of what I believe to be hard drive failure. I'm not 'tech savvy' and have never experienced hard drive failure before mind you, though the machine's performance has dramatically decreased and there's been abnormal noises coming from the location where the hard drive is located.

    I suddenly became worried about losing the contents on the MacBook. For the past 6 years, I've always been unorganized in regards to these contents. I had attempted to organize these contents throughout the years by copying and moving, etc. File structures were unorganized, etc.

    I created a file and began creating a organized file structure. I realized that overtime I had created a duplicate, triple, quadruple, etc. of the same content. One by one, I sorted and organized everything in a file into seperate files. Financial, Employment, College, etc. Then further breaking it down to banks, employers, etc. into seperate files. I even learned how to create an encrypted file (basic to most) to store sensitive information such as tax returns, W2s, etc.

    I then learned about iCloud (I promise, I'm not a caveman). Though I wanted everything on iCloud, but couldn't put the file in the iCloud folder. So I learned about creating an alias (no longer an issue with Sierra). I'm not your average Apple consumer, but I've always admired the OS for the ecosystem.

    However, iCloud really has made me more responsible in terms of the personal data I keep. I've even scanned and uploaded the majority of the file cabinet documents I had and allowed me to shred these documents. I also learned about Hazel and it has allowed me to download retirement statements, pay stubs and other documents from the source to the file of choice with ease.

    Though after becoming organized and using iCloud as a backup, I began learning that iCloud should not be considered as a 'backup' but more as a 'syncing' tool. Furthermore, I've learned that there should be 2 backups.

    I then began researching, but in the meantime I had put that file on a flash drive. I believe the 10 GB SanDisk is 12 years old (which is worrisome and doesn't include photos). Yes, you read that correctly. I only have 4 GB of content between the MacBook and iPhone. Now that I have ordered a 2016 MacBook with Touch Bar and Touch ID, I would prefer to have this in place when I receive it.

    I don't use Time Machine, but would be open to using it. I have only deleted or lost content on a few occasions, but each occasion was while writing a paper for college and I'm sure this issue could have been prevented using a setting on Pages and/or Word. Time Machine's full back up could prevent this I'm sure. However, I do not feel comfortable having a back-up of something older than a week (if that makes sense?). I would prefer that if something was deleted, then a week later it is deleted.

    I don't use File Vault, though I would prefer to use this once receiving the MacBook Pro. I'm unsure how this would effect Time Machine or the back-up methods I choose.

    NAS: If I were to use a NAS, it would be Apple's Time Capsule only. Simply because of the ecosystem. Though for someone with only 4 GB of content, I find it difficult to justify Apple's Time Capsule that starts at 2 TB. Furthermore, I'm not sure if I feel comfortable with the content being on a hard drive. Even more, the MacBook is at home 90% of the time. So if theft, fire, flood, tornado, etc. we're to occur, both the MacBook and NAS could be destroyed. However, it could be backed-up more often.

    External Hard Drive: If I were to use an external hard drive, I would be able to place this outside of home. I believe it would be placed in a relatives home who is 6 miles from home. I could also open a safe deposit box at the bank I'm employed at and place it there, which is 7 miles from home. I don't feel comfortable keeping this in my workstation at the bank. This is due to the information I have access to and would prefer not to have this in my possession to avoid any possible repercussion. Either in a relatives home or safe deposit box, I would not back up the content more than once a month as it's inconvenient. I would need the information encrypted and would keep the external hard drive in a sealed container to avoid any harmful elements.

    Cloud: I would really prefer to have all contents backed-up between two other providers (technically, not including iCloud) and avoiding a NAS or external hard drive. I haven't seen any negatives in regards to this, but could see internet being the only negative (which would be a rarity of itself).

    I know I have a unique situation (small storage) which is why I wanted opinions and suggestions.

    Thank you, Gixene
     
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #2
    How to back up 101:

    - get one or more external drives. They can be platter-based drives, SSDs, whatever you want.

    - get either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper. CCC is FREE to download and it's FREE to use for the first 30 days. SD will do a "full clone backup" FOREVER without having to pay a registration fee (but to do incremental updates, you need to register).

    - connect backup drive to Mac and initialize with Disk Utility to HFS+, GUID partition map

    - launch CCC. Choose to backup the recovery partition, too (already selected by default). Your "source" drive goes on the left, and your "target" (backup) goes on the right.

    - let CCC do its thing.

    When it's done, you'll have a fully-bootable cloned backup of your internal drive that will look EXACTLY like the original, and work EXACTLY like the original.

    If you want an "off-site" backup as well, repeat the process with another external drive.
    You now have an immediately-bootable cloned backup "at your fingertips", AND another stored offsite if there's a disaster where the Mac is located...
     
  3. Gixene thread starter macrumors regular

    Gixene

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2016
    Location:
    Indiana
    #3
    Is there any positives or negatives to incremental backups? Does Carbon Copy Cloner allow incremental backups as well?

    Okay, you lost me at "Disk Utility to HFS+, GUID partition map" Do you mean something similar to the sparse bundle I created for sensitive content (mentioned above)?

    After this I'm not understanding the instructions, but I imagine there is a YouTube that explains the steps.
     
  4. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    #4
    Incremental backups only write what has changed since the last one. So they are smaller and take (much) less time. Also, if there's just one file you need restored, it may be simpler or at least no harder to restore from an incremental. The main downside is that if you are doing a full restore, e.g. if your original drive crashes, you have to restore the full backup and then all of the incrementals on top of that, taking much more time in total.

    The HFS+, GUID instruction meant that you are to use Disk Utility to initialize the new external drive(s). Tell Disk Utility that you want GUID partitioning (this is an option somewhere, I don't recall off the top of my head where, and it might possibly be the default.) Also tell it that you want the drive set up with HFS+ which is the Mac file system with journaling, that is another selection in Disk Utility.

    I don't know if Carbon Copy does incremental backups. I've used (and paid for) SuperDuper and it's worth the small amount of money. CCC probably is too, I've just never used it.
     
  5. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    Location:
    Between the coasts
    #5
    I don't get the allergies to Time Machine, other than a systemic distrust of anything Apple creates (other than Mac itself). There's also the assumption that third-party apps must be superior. It's true, third-party developers compete against Apple's built-in apps - that may spur innovation, but sometimes it just spurs feature bloat. Other times, it's a matter of delivering features that are needed by a relatively small group of users.

    My feeling is, if you know you need more than Apple provides, then by all means, get the tool that does the job. But don't assume that following another user's recommendation, based on needs you may not share, will necessarily give you a superior experience. It could also end up in unnecessary expense, and/or unnecessary complexity. The third-party app may integrate with the rest of the OS as well as Apple's native apps, or it may not.

    CCC is especially well-suited to full-machine backup/restores. People who need to erase and reinstall the full contents of drives and/or partitions on a relatively frequent basis swear by CCC. Of course, making (and storing) those frequent, full backups also consumes time and disk space. They need to do that, so they do it. Cost of doing business.

    Time Machine is not optimized for that purpose. It's intended for the "average" Mac user, who may encounter a major disaster once or twice in the life of the machine (hard drive replacement, corruption of disk directory, migration to a new Mac, etc.). Time Machine is not optimized to do that on a time-is-money basis. It has to reconstruct the state of the machine from a variety of incremental backups, to match the chosen date. People tend to trust the notion of, "Put this full machine clone back onto the machine" compared to, "Reconstruct the state of the machine to match this date and time" (even though that reconstruction is fully automated). However, compared to keeping periodic, full backups, Time Machine very economical with disk space.

    Time Machine really begins to shine when it comes to "turning back the hands of time." Whether it's for one file, or many, one can enter the Time Machine graphical interface to locate and recover older versions of revised files, as well as restore accidentally deleted or damaged files.

    Restoring from a Time Machine backup does not require going back to a full backup and then restoring subsequent incremental backups. Time Machine is capable, in one step, of restoring to the machine's state on any given date or time. Need to erase and reinstall your HDD contents? Simply select the most recent date in Time Machine. Need to roll back to the previous OS? Select the last date prior to the OS update.

    Now, this process won't go as swiftly as a CCC whole-disk restore, but unless you make and save those CCC whole-disk restores, you may not be able to swiftly restore things to any given date and time with CCC either.
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    Both CarbonCopyCloner and SuperDuper do incremental backups, but you have to register SD to get this to work.
    CCC will do incremental backups in trial mode, as well as after registering.

    The intial cloning will go slow, as the entire drive is being copied.
    Subsequent incremental backups will go quite fast.

    When you buy a new drive, chances are it will not come in Mac OS format.
    That's why you have to first:
    - connect it to Mac
    - open Disk Utility and select the drive
    - re-initialize it to "Mac format" (which is "HFS+", with a "GUID" partition map).

    There's nothing to the above procedure, anyone can do it.

    I always always ALWAYS recommend CCC (or SD) instead of Time Machine because I've read (right here on MacRumors) of too many disasters when a user -- in a moment of extreme need -- tried to access a TM backup and....couldn't.

    I've never had a CCC backup fail, ever.
     
  7. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    #7
    I've never had a Time Machine backup fail, and I suspect that at least some of the mishaps are caused by either a) people not noticing that the backup disk is full and older backups get deleted, or b) people not noticing that a backup drive is failing. I tend to replace my Time Machine drives every 8-12 months whether they need it or not, the old drives go into a drawer.

    Time Machine and CCC/SuperDuper serve slightly different purposes. I myself use TM for pseudo-continuous incremental backup, and SuperDuper for cloning, occasional full backups, and sometimes an incremental backup before I do something significant to the machine.
     
  8. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Location:
    Always a day away
    #8
    I don't agree with the need for two backups, unless you're talking about government-secrets-level failsafes. The backup, if you think about it, is also backed up - on the main computer itself. If they're kept in two locations, you're pretty damn safe with such a setup.
     
  9. Gixene thread starter macrumors regular

    Gixene

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2016
    Location:
    Indiana
    #9
    So after researching Time Machine as well as Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper, I believe I have an idea of the best solution. Please correct me if I'm misinformed on any of the following.

    Time Machine seems great, depending on your situation. As I've mentioned in the original post, I've never deleted content that I didn't intend to or altered content that I didn't intend to. I've never had the desire to return to a previous version of OSX due to the simplistic needs I have from OSX, as opposed to many others who have more complex needs from OSX.

    I thought about this. Today, if my hard drive were to fail and I used Time Machine as a only backup, what would I do? Well, I would hope I have the ability to purchase a new MacBook, but maybe I lost my job a couple of months ago and I'm living on an emergency fund. I may not be able to purchase a new MacBook while in this financial state.

    So, what if I do have the funds to purchase a new MacBook and I use Time Machine and a cloud provider? Well, I don't want to entertain the idea of moving all of the clutter from the old MacBook to the new MacBook. So I wouldn't use Time Machine in this situation here. I'd much rather download from a cloud, no matter how time consuming it would be.

    Carbon Copy Cloner and/or SuperDuper seems to be a better solution for the needs I have. I doubt I would ever need to use the clone, but I know that I can retrieve the same content I could with Time Machine. However, at least Carbon Copy Cloner and/or SuperDuper would allow me to boot from the drive as opposed to Time Machine. If I can't purchase a new MacBook at that time, then at least I would be able to continue meeting the computing needs I require whether I'm financially able to purchase a new MacBook or not.

    I do have some questions regarding Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper.

    1.) Can I choose to backup only certain things? I feel confident in Carbon Copy Cloner's abilities to encrypt (not sure if SuperDuper encrypts), but would I be able to avoid backing up bookmarks, internet browsing history, etc.? I don't want to compromise the integrity of the clone, though I would prefer to avoid cloning certain content.

    2.) I'm unsure of what I will do with this current MacBook. I would prefer to hand it down to my mother who uses a Dell notebook from her employer. This would allow her to use the MacBook more personally. Though if I would love to keep this MacBook.

    Regardless, if I were to need to use a clone and the MacBook was in a fire, flood, etc. and completely useless. The most viable solution would be to continue on a Windows machine as many friends and family have them. Would it be possible to boot a clone on a Windows machine?

    3.) Is there an external SSD that can directly contect using Thunderbolt 3 without the need for attachements or dongles? I looked and I don't believe I cloud find any, then again, Thunderbolt is a whole new concept to me.

    Based on your wonderful explanation of a incremental backup, it sounds as if incremental would be the best option for me as opposed to the other option. As I've mentioned in the original post, I've never deleted content that I didn't intend to or altered content that I didn't intend to.

    I do share the same sentiments as you do regarding software from third party developer(s). I believe Apple's software to be superior, typically. Typically, is the key word here. Take the example of Hazel I mentioned in the original post.

    Before discovering Hazel, I read about Automator and scripts. Let's be honest here, this is for advanced OSX users. The average user would not use this. Hazel has changed file management for me, in a positive manner. While I believe Apple has my best interests at heart, clearly Apple can fail in some aspects.

    While on the subject of Time Machine, we should look at iCloud. Apple clearly intends users to use this as a backup. I should know, I had that mentality. Thankfully, I'm here, searching for a solution. I would absolutely love if I could trust iCloud with preserving every irreplaceable digital content I own. Though it only requires on experience with iCloud or any backup solution, then you've not only lost trust but also your precious digital content.

    I know you are providing an open mind approach to helping those on MacRumors and I appreciate that. It's a rarity in and of itself and something you should continue to do.

    I appreciate your explanation. I believe Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper is the best option in this situation. I'm unsure which to choose, but will need to do more research before deciding. From first glance, Carbon Copy Cloner seems more user friendly while SuperDuper seems more complex. If I had to choose, it will most likely be Carbon Copy Cloner.

    I also believe Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper would be better with this situation.

    I also believe that two backups could be unnecessary. I say that meaning two external drives. I wouldn't do this personally. Though a second backup could be with another cloud provider besides Apple's iCloud. Which I may do, but I guess I'll cross that bridge after establishing the first backup solution.
     
  10. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    #10
    SuperDuper allows you to exclude files and/or folders from a backup. I don't know about CC.

    Whatever you end up with as a backup strategy, just remember that backup devices fail. The situation today is generally better than the "bad old days", when I used to fairly regularly run into tape drives that would happily write tapes that were unreadable (!); backup disk drives usually either work, or not. It's the "not" that can get you. I like to buy a cheap disk every 6 months or so, maybe even a flash drive; I'll do a separate backup of my most important stuff and throw it into a drawer. (Some people will tell you to keep it in a safety deposit box! that depends on how important your data is to you.)
     
  11. Gixene thread starter macrumors regular

    Gixene

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2016
    Location:
    Indiana
    #11
    Thank you. I believe I'll be choosing Carbon Copy Cloner. Seems more user friendly. I just really hope you can exclude certain files and folders with this application. Hopefully someone can answer this for me.
     
  12. CoastalOR macrumors 68000

    CoastalOR

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2015
    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    #12
    Yes, you can exclude files and folders with CCC.
     
  13. Gixene thread starter macrumors regular

    Gixene

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2016
    Location:
    Indiana
    #13
    Thank you for answering! I appreciate it! In the event I need to boot and there is no Apple machine nearby. Is it possible to boot from a Windows machine?
     
  14. CoastalOR macrumors 68000

    CoastalOR

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2015
    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    #14
    No.
    The cloned disk must be formatted for Mac, so it would not be readable on a Windows system unless additional software is installed on the Windows PC to allow it to read Mac formatted disks. Windows PCs can not boot from Mac formatted disks and OS.
     
  15. Gixene thread starter macrumors regular

    Gixene

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2016
    Location:
    Indiana
    #15
    I really appreciate your knowledge with this. I thought, in the event the MacBook was in a fire, flood, etc. In this event, I know of a couple people who have Apple machine who I imagine would allow me to use it if needed.

    Do you have any portable external SSD recommendations? Coming from a MacBook 7,1, I'm not knowledgeable on the newer ports. I plan to use it with the 2016 MacBook Pro. If I understand correctly, Thunderbolt 3 is Apple's term for USB-C and USB-3.1. Do I understand this correctly?

    So, if I want to take advantage of the port. I should purchase a portable externals SSD that uses USB-C/USB 3.1?
     
  16. Gixene thread starter macrumors regular

    Gixene

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2016
    Location:
    Indiana
    #16
    Never mind, I the following drive that Carbon Copy Cloner endorses. It seems that I will need to purchase a certified cable to ensure I can take advantage of the 10 gbps. Likely I will get 250 GB SSD to match the 256 GB SSD in the 2016 MacBook Pro.

    Samsung T3 Portable SSD - 1TB - USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PT1T0B/AM) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AVF6UO8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_QcPgybMVKJ8JA

    Thank you everyone for helping me find a bootable backup solution! You all here at MacRumors are wonderful!
     

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