Best Backup Solution: Time Machine vs Carbon Copy Cloner (or a combination)

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Arty Tales, Nov 9, 2014.

  1. Arty Tales macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2014
    #1
    I need to come up with a robust backup solution for 4 Macs, a lot of media and a large photo collection (stored separately). I recently bought 2 4Tb external hard drives and had planned doing as follows:

    - Using 1 of the drives as my main backup drives with 8 partitions: one time Machine backup drive for each Mac, and the 4 other partitions for other purposes.

    - On a regular basis (weekly?), I would clone the first external hard drive to the other using Carbon Copy Cloner (the drives are stored in separate locations).

    I have now discovered that Carbon Copy Cloner doesn't seem to handle cloning time machine backups smoothly so it might be easier to skip Time Machine altogether and instead simply backup from each of the Macks to the first HD using Carbon Copy Cloner (and then Clone to the other External HD separately)

    What do you think? Would there be a big disadvantage to skipping Time Machine?
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #2
    Sounds like you may be better off with a NAS. Use Time Machine to back up to the NAS (each computer would have its own account/share area for back ups) and then you can use the NAS' tools to back up that onto an external drive.

    I have a QNAP, though most people recommend Synology here. With my QNAP, I plug in the external drive to the NAS's USB port, and hit the backup button and it backs up my NAS so I have a second copy.

    This sounds like a solution for your needs as well (either Qnap or Synology)
     
  3. mac8867 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2010
    Location:
    Saint Augustine, FL
    #3
    Personally, I prefer to think of Carbon Copy (I use SuperDuper, but same idea) as my backup, and Time Machine as the incremental backups. Consider the scenarios:

    1. Machine "dies" and complete restore is required, CC restore gets the machine up, sync from Time Machine restores the latest files

    2. Upgrade to OS is performed, but you find it isn't working well for you. Again, a restore from CC and time machine file update and you are back to where you were prior to the upgrade.

    3. You buy a new machine to replace an existing one. Time Machine restore and all your apps and files are put in place.

    With this thinking, a CC clone can be performed as rarely as every 6 months (I perform them once a month). The Time Machine left to it's own devices gives you the incremental up to the hour (within the last month).

    So with your configuration, if your partitions are big enough, CC each machine periodically to their own partition. For the time machine, you only need one partition for all your macs, each machine has it's own sparsebundle (directory if you will) to which the backups are stored.
     
  4. mic j macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2012
    #4
    I agree with Mac8867.

    I look at Time Machine as a file rescue system. Somewhere to go if you accidentally delete a file or you need to quickly look back in time to the way something was a few months ago. It's more of a fine grained "file" system.

    Whereas, CC (or SuperDuper, which I use) has the ability to easily boot from a different disk. I look at it as more of a coarse grain (monthly) "system" backup. I backup up monthly, rotating between 2 drives, one of which I keep in a bank vault.
     
  5. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #5
    There is one feature of Time Machine that CCC and "clone" apps just cannot handle, and that is to restore to a previous version of the system.

    You can configure CCC to keep file versions so if you need a specific document from last Thursday, that is relatively easy to find in CCC. But if you want to roll the system back to a previous date there is no way you will ever get that done with CCC. This is good feature to have if an OS update breaks compatibility with an important app you have for example.

    My personal preference is Time Machine for backups and also CCC for a clone. IMO CCC is not as effective as your only backup solution.

    I also backup to Amazon's S3 servers with the app Arq if you are looking for cloud storage.
     
  6. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    #6
    This. Although I use CCC at work, I have not found any particular need for bootable backups at home (which to me is its 'feature' over Time Machine).

    Also this, thanks to Weaselboy mentioning it in the past. I use Arq to backup critical data offsite daily.

    A.
     
  7. shaunp macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010
    #7
    Buy either a NAS or a time capsule and configure all your macs to backup to this. Then use the external disks to copy data from the NAS/time capsule for offsite.

    I personally backup to a NAS and then us Amazon S3 (backup from the NAS) to store my most important data - business docs that have to be offsite. This costs around $0.60 per month as there is very little data.

    I also sync my photos offsite with Dropbox. I just exclude that one folder on my other machines so I don't duplicate my entire photo collection (500GB) everywhere.
     
  8. nightlong macrumors 6502a

    nightlong

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2012
    Location:
    Australia
    #8
    On a large partitioned usb3 drive that stays at home, I do both CCC and TM FOR MY MBPr. On a small portable drive that always travels with me, just TM.

    JJust TM on a large drive for iMac. And media archives on another.
     
  9. Partron22 macrumors 68000

    Partron22

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    Apr 13, 2011
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    #9
    Bears repeating.
    My Time Machine BU went south with the Yosemite update; completely inaccessible.
    SuperDuper! left me with a complete backup of everything just prior to Yosemite install on one of my ext drives.
     
  10. ItWasNotMe macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2012
    #10
    Seconded - Time Machine on Yosemite is a shambles.

    Always use at least two methods, independently update them and test them both after every update.
     
  11. mic j macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2012
    #11
    I have to comment that the problems you are experiencing with TM and Yosemite are not universal. It's been working fine for me after installing Yosemite. That said, TM is a lot more finicky as a backup method than CCC or SD and because of that, having a second backup method is just "best practice".
     
  12. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    #12
    I find this difficult to digest. I have an office full of folks merrily backing up (and restoring, as need be) their stuff with Time Machine, and I would not dream of trying to walk any of them through the installation and configuration of either Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper. I expect that on a per-capita basis, there are a lot fewer problems with Time Machine.

    A.
     
  13. mic j macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2012
    #13
    Office use of TM is a more unique use of the system than most Mac users and may fit your situation and needs better. Not saying not to use it but my guess is that if you do a search, you will find a lot more people have glitches with TM than making a backup clone. I've done both for years. Certainly for office use, the ability to recover items created just minutes ago is it's forte and something CCC or SD are not suited to. However, for a full system recovery, e.g. disk failure, TM is rather awkward and very slow. With CCC or SD all you have to do is plug in the drive, boot the computer using that drive and copy it contents to the failed computer (with a new drive, of course). And if you can do firewire instead of USB it's even way faster. I thinks that's why we are all saying, both methods TM and cloning have they're place. That may not fit your particular situation, but it fit's most user's situation.

    As for the installation of CCC or SD, it's really very simple. From a cloning standpoint it can be as simple or as complicated (using scripts) as you would like to make it. For myself, I plug in my small USB drive (it won't do networked drives...again, strengths and weaknesses), launch SD, hit Copy answer Yes to "Are you sure you want to copy and it just cranks until it's done. Eject the disc and you're all done.
     
  14. Partron22 macrumors 68000

    Partron22

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    Apr 13, 2011
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    #14
    Whole heartedly agree. However, I do wonder what percentage of TM only users have actually checked whether all is well.
     
  15. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    #15
    Well, if you think that office use of Time machine is any different than how most Mac users use it (not to mention "unique"!), that would explain why we do not see eye-to-eye on this issue.

    A.
     
  16. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    Apr 27, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    #16
    I have. If you haven't tested your backup on a regular basis then you don't have one. In my case I have an unused drive in my Mac Pro 3,1 that I use for test restores of our systems. Just do a fresh install of the OS and migrate from the TM backup.

    The best backups are the ones that require no user interaction/involvement. A NAS or server is one of the best solutions as it can be placed remotely from the Mac making it less subject to fire, theft, or other disaster.
     
  17. mac8867 macrumors 6502

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    Apr 5, 2010
    Location:
    Saint Augustine, FL
    #17
    Seconded. Just configuring backups makes you feel safe. Testing them insures you are safe.
     
  18. ItWasNotMe macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2012
    #18
    Still a shambles (this is a qualitative term). :(

    Time Machine in 10.10.1 just failed first test.

    If you have an external disk that is dismounted when Time Machine runs, next occasion that Time Machine runs and the disk is mounted - Time Machine uses total space on that disk as part of the requirement.

    This is what wipes out backups even though there really is enough space.

    If Apple was prioritising on quantitive basis then it would focus its billions on the corners of the volume icon.;)
     
  19. octothorpe8 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2014
    #19
    Don't put your eggs in one basket. Ask yourself what would happen if your office caught fire right now or your boot drive or any of your externals took a huge dump. What would have have at this moment, data-wise?

    I do:

    - Time Machine for on-site continuous backup with versioning.
    - a monthly Carbon Copy Cloner clone I keep OFFSITE.
    - a lot of smaller and frequently updated files are continuously uploaded to Dropbox.

    So if my apartment got sucked into the earth at this moment I'd have all my files as of a week ago when I did my most recent offsite clone, plus everything in Dropbox would be current. Any drive in this system could die right now and I would lose very little. Only if my home and office were both destroyed would I lose everything (besides, I guess, what's in Dropbox). And if that happened, I suppose I'd have much bigger problems...

    ----------

    Given my relatives/friends/coworkers ability to break much simpler things, I have to go with Time Machine on this one. "Plug it in and click OK" and know that on SOME LEVEL, they're backing stuff up. That alone is a huge step.
     
  20. 370zulu macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2014
    #20
    I use CCC with SafetyNet enabled to write only the home directories from each of our machines to a Synology DS213J (2x4TB RAID1). I replicate (rsync) this to another Synology DS213J (2x4TB RAID1) at another location.
     

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