Feb 08, 2021
6 mins read
Any Computer user is aware of the need to backup … but it's amazing how this gets forgotten sometimes, or gets pushed down a list of to do’s. Whether backing up sample library’s, live sets or your actual system software, there are apps that make this a simple operation and can schedule the process, or even do it in the background. So really there's no excuse not to have your data safely stored somewhere!
Especially with OS 11 now becoming increasingly more adopted, having the ability to roll back your computer OS in the event of a Big Sur nightmare, could be a real life saver.
In this post we’ll ID some of the software out there that can make reliable backups possible and in a future post we’ll identify suitable storage media and some of the different backup roles they are best suited to.
Software / Mac OS.
There are several applications available that will allow you to copy data safely, We are going to quickly look at 2 favourites here – ‘Carbon Copy Cloner’ and ‘Chronosync’.
(At the time of writing both are now OS Big Sur ready so ready to backup data on the latest release Apple computers)
Why Dedicated Software?
Yes, Apple's Time Machine exists (See below) but cloning or copying drives using dedicated applications has its advantages, especially over simple copy/paste methods, not least because the copying or cloning ‘setup’ can be saved as a file, that can be recalled, every time you need to backup. This therefore speeds up the process and saves from having to think about it in detail, each time you need to backup stuff. You can exactly clone a system or external drive, enabling boot from these drives in the case of emergency.
Note - Time Machine : Cloning Software is not a replacement for Apple’s ‘Time Machine’ rather a supplement. Time Machines’ nature means that references to older, deleted files are retained as well as current ones and therefore are recallable from the TM history. Whereas the 'clone' is a more of ‘snapshot’ in time, of a drive or folder at the time of backup/clone. As Time Machine is not a direct reflection of the computer folder structure it’s backing up, it is not bootable. A combination of the two therefore makes sense when planning a backup strategy.
Recalling a previously saved backup schedule, would mean that running it a second time, would only save any changes made since the last backup, rather than copying everything again (if that’s what you want). In the case of large folders containing significant amounts of audio / data this could be massive time saver.
Other reasons for using backup software could be:
Set it up to automatically backup certain files or folders at a particular time, like when its quiet in the studio or at the end of a busy session (when you are tired!).
Begin a backup when a particular drive is plugged in (useful to backup to a second drive quickly when working on a main drive or in dual laptop situations for copy between them)
Make periodic safety backups of Sample or Instrument library’s, as they constantly evolve, only updating new additions since the last backup, therefore saving space.
Make bootable clones of your computer so that even a failed internal hard drive isn’t a session stopper.
Backup software could also create a ‘Disk Image’ for you to save or archive data but also potentially reduce the amount of storage space required for the backup. A useful method to store data longer term without taking up valuable GB.
Because backups themselves can fail so backups of backups are easily made!
Carbon Copy Cloner - https://bombich.com
'Carbon Copy Cloner' is simple to understand and use and has recently introduced new features like ‘Snapshots’ (Time Machine like restoration of deleted files) and ‘Smart Updates’ where only the files that have been modified or changed are updated and backed up to external drives or other Macs. Also, backups can be scheduled, clones can be made bootable and there’s even a guide to help you restore files, if you ever boot from a CCC drive.
Another great feature is the ‘Cloning Coach’ a kind of inbuilt support portal if you need help on any of CCC’s aspects. Simple mode is really useful too, just de-cluttering the screen and making it super obvious what is the ‘source’ and ‘destination’ when performing backups. If you want something not too daunting then CCC is a great option.
Chronosync - https://www.econtechnologies.com
Like CCC 'Chronosync' can schedule backups, make bootable clones and sync files across folders easily. Also, in a similar fashion to CCC, there are ‘Source’ and ‘Destination’ areas where you specify items to be cloned or backed up and where that backup will be written. There’s a slightly more complicated look to Chronosync though, so it could be intimidating to newer users. It has certain advantages though.
There are useful features like ‘Trial Sync’ that lets you essentially do a dry run of a backup and visualise a synchronisation before actually doing it. Plus swift bootable clone options, for cloning your entire system or external drives easily and quickly.
One feature that’s really useful with Chronosync which stands it apart, works in tandem with another product they provide, ‘Chrono Agent’.
Chrono Agent is an invisible app that runs silently in the background providing ChronoSync with a direct connection to a remote Mac. What’s so great about this?.
Well, if you are ever programming Audio Playback Systems with A/B computers, then you’ll be aware of the constant updating required to keep a ‘B’ machine in sync with machine ‘A’. Backing up to an external drive, unplugging it, plugging into 'B' and then recloning or updating from the drive to 'B' internal drive etc, can get very tiresome and time consuming.
Running Chrono Agent allows you to backup to a second Mac over a network as if the computer were another drive connected to the A machine. No more unplugging, re-plugging, just super quick re-run of your saved schedule over a network and boom, ‘B’ is up to date. it’s a total hassle saver and a massive tick for using Chronosync.
This is of course by far a definitive list of Cloning / Backup software. Other notable options include:
Super Duper (https://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/SuperDuperDescription.html) currently compatible up to Catalina OS. Another simple to understand front end and great supplement to Time Machine.
Backblaze (https://www.backblaze.com/home-1.html) A cloud based backup option that’s seamless and happily runs in the background, backing up your entire computer and connected drives over your network.
Also find some backup alternatives here, including IOS ideas:
And this from Macworld, where they ID useful free options and some of the best cloud based backup alternatives:
With this variety of backup choices there’s no excuse for not saving data, whether to safeguard against theft, guard against drive failure, or share/clone data to B laptops.
Also, if there’s a go-to backup option you use personally, that we didn't mention, we’d love to hear about it and welcome any feedback ref this or any other MuSOS posts.
Plus for direct support regarding all things Mac visit - https://musos.tech for direct 1:1 tech assistance from the MuSOS hive :)
//MuSOS - 'We Can Help'