Backup solutions for college bound MacBook

gpspad

macrumors 6502a
Feb 4, 2014
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I have nephew that just got a MacBook for college. I was wondering what would be the best automated way for the MacBook to get backed up on a regular basis w/o a lot of effort on his part. Time Capsules still work great, but I don't think his dorm will have an ethernet connection.

I could get him a portable USB HD, but have a feeling just like my laptop, it won't get done all that often if he has to remember to plug a HD in and manually back it up.

Any suggestions on making this as automated and plug and play as possible?
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
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If you have an external drive set up as the Time Machine backup, then Time Machine will store backups on the internal drive when the Time Machine external is not plugged in. The backup will happen the next time the Time Machine drive is plugged in to your MBPro. Time Machine does that automatically, simply by plugging the dedicated drive into the MBPro.
The nephew just has to remember to plug the external backup in. I might suggest doing that each night, maybe any time the nephew plugs in to the power adapter for charging the battery. He can make sure that "Power Nap" is enabled in the Energy Saver perf pane. With that, you don't even need to leave power on. The laptop will power up as needed, and Time Machine is one of those needs.
 

mpainesyd

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Nov 29, 2008
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I use an Apple HDMI adapter that plugs into the Macbook usb-c port. It has a Usb-a port and an hdmi port (handy for watching macbook output on a tv) in addition to usb-c input for powering the Macbook. I use a Samsung 500Gb SSD drive for automatic Time Machine backups when it is connected to the adapter. It has worked well for 4 years.
I also have Time Machine backup to a Time Capsule when at home. Time Machine automatically alternates between the 2 backup drives and this is a safer strategy than only having one backup drive.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
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1. Get a USB3 external drive. Could be HDD, could be SSD.
2. Download CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper
3. Use either one to create a bootable cloned backup
4. TEACH HIM how to update the backup periodically (say, once a week).

Now he has a SECOND BOOT SOURCE and a "finder copy backup" of his drive.

If the MacBook gets stolen, it will be easy to connect the backup and get a replacement going again.

No, this won't be "automated".
Maintaining the backup requires personal responsibility and awareness.
But if he's smart enough to get into college, he ought to be smart enough to do that.
 
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Weaselboy

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Jan 23, 2005
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https://www.arqbackup.com

I'm using the app Arq to backup online to Backblaze B2 servers. Arq supports other backup destinations also.

You can set this up to backup the entire home folder online however often you want and it will just run in the background on its own. If you are after a set it and forget it solution, this might be a good option for your nephew.
 

kohlson

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Apr 23, 2010
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but I don't think his dorm will have an ethernet connection.
Are you sure? This seems, well, crazy. If my kids were any indication, every aspect of college life was enabled by a network connection.

If there is an actual internet connection (wired or wireless) then I would recommend an online backup. Use iCloud or DropBox or ... to keep all docs in the cloud. This is what I did for both kids.

Most people can't remember to get involved with plugging in a disk on a regular basis. College kids are like most people, only more so.
 

krazykayaker

macrumors newbie
Jun 28, 2010
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I have nephew that just got a MacBook for college. I was wondering what would be the best automated way for the MacBook to get backed up on a regular basis w/o a lot of effort on his part. Time Capsules still work great, but I don't think his dorm will have an ethernet connection.

I could get him a portable USB HD, but have a feeling just like my laptop, it won't get done all that often if he has to remember to plug a HD in and manually back it up.

Any suggestions on making this as automated and plug and play as possible?
I would check with the college to see if they provide any backup services. Many colleges already provide cloud backup solutions like CrashPlan or similar for everyone.

Remember that iCloud or Dropbox are not backup solutions per se, they are cloud storage providers.
 

mpainesyd

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2008
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Sydney, Australia
users.tpg.com.au
I occasionally use Carbon Copy Cloner - such as before "upgrading" the system (macOS) software and making sure I can revert to the original version - but I find set-and-forget Time Machine handy and reliable. I have used it to restore old files, such as previous versions of documents, as well as using it to migrate all my apps and settings to a new Mac. As I suggest above, it is worth having at least two drives for TM backups but fortunately I have never had to rely on this because one was corrupted.
 

gpspad

macrumors 6502a
Feb 4, 2014
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Thanks for all the replies. I am going to suggest all his school work get put into his iCloud files directory.

I'm also going to try and dig up two external USB hard drives and look for USB-C adapters for them. One for school and one to leave at home. If he does a backup at school and at home he will have two copies.

I rely on the TimeCapsules on my home network to do it all in the background. It's the only way to make sure it gets done.

I have a CCC copy of all my drives, but they usually only get made before upgrades and transferring from one HD to another.

I'll try and setup CCC or use TM, but too be honest if I don't plug my MacBook in weekly to back it up, I doubt he will.
 

posguy99

macrumors 6502a
Nov 3, 2004
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I have nephew that just got a MacBook for college. I was wondering what would be the best automated way for the MacBook to get backed up on a regular basis w/o a lot of effort on his part.
<shrug> Buy him a Backblaze subscription. Call it a present. It's $6/month and it'll back itself up whenever it has a network connection. He won't be able to tell it's running.

The whole thread is full of "can't trust him to do anything"... so don't.
 
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PilotWoo

macrumors regular
Jul 14, 2006
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I use Chronosync Express on remote machine and Chronosync Agent on home server to replicate changed files over the internet. Not reliant on plugging anything in. It is reliable and keeps an archive of changed files for me, and best of all, no subscription fee :)
 

mj_

macrumors 6502a
May 18, 2017
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Austin, TX
Thanks for all the replies. I am going to suggest all his school work get put into his iCloud files directory.
He'd be much better off with Dropbox instead, because Dropbox keeps a file history and you can restore deleted or overwritten files for 30 days in the free version and up to one year in the paid-for version.