Saturday, October 29, 2005 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Backup 3.0: Avoid

Jonathan Rentzsch (based on reports from Erik Barzeski and Michael McCracken) on the sorry state of Apple’s Backup, and Mac backup software in general:

This is why Backup 3 is so damaging: its target demographic is exactly the type of people who don’t know—or lack the hardware resources—to test restorations. Backup 3’s high production values can lull even those who should know better into a false sense of security.

I’d be interested to know to know whether the recent Backup 3.0.1 update fixes the problems, but who’d want to risk their data with it now? Also, the Mac-savvy rsync in Tiger should be great for certain kinds of backups, but it’s still unreliable and slow.

The new Retrospect 6.1 doesn’t seem to be much of an improvement, and SuperDuper seems to be a quality product, but it’s currently too basic. So I use Synchronize! Pro X for hard-disk backups with crude versioning (Unfortunately, contrary to my previous report, the alias logging problem is not fixed in 4.1.1.) and DropDMG for archiving to CD/DVD. I’d like a comprehensive backup program, but how likely is that with Dantz’s patent and Apple’s “free” software:

Unfortunately, the harm doesn’t end just in the black eye for Apple’s software quality-control, the valuation of .Mac, or the users who will lose data. Backup 3 also hurts the market for backup software that actually works.

8 Comments

I use psync. It worked beautifully in the 10.1 to 10.3 era, broke for awhile in 10.4 (I think), but now works great. It creates bootable backups to the second drive in my G5. It's not for everyone, but it could be on the list. Run via a cron job, it seems pretty fast to me. Resource forks, etc. are preserved.

Is there anywhere that says exactly what the Dantz patent is? I went to that page and it's really long- I need a cliff notes version :)

IANAL, but I think the main point is that their patent covers the idea of using a catalog file to keep track of which files were written to the backup media. If anyone knows more, please post a comment/link.

You could try Impression

Impression doesn't seem to match my needs very well. When backing up to a hard disk, I want to be able to quickly restore from the latest backup. I also want to store multiple versions of changed files going backwards in time. Impression does its incremental backups going forwards, like Retrospect, which makes managing disk space difficult. Restoring seems to be clunkier than in Retrospect. Of course, Synchronize Pro! doesn't have an interface for restoring, but everything's clearly laid out in the Finder.

For CD/DVD archives, it seems that the only way to get encrypted, catalogable backups would be to tell Impression to save the files in Finder format on disk images. Then I would have to segment the disk images, burn them, and catalog them with CDFinder. It would be a more complicated way of ending up where I am now.

I'm not sure that I understand what you mean with forward/backward. I switched from Retrospect a couple of year ago (I got really upset when it claimed to backup my data when it actually was trashing my previous backups, when things like that had happened a couple of times I just gave up) and tried many of the programs that was available at that time. Impression was the one that worked the best for me ... but requirements vary. I'm also using ChronoSync for other things and it looks like the latest version could be used for archiving but I haven't had the time to check.

Forward: store a full copy of the oldest snapshot, then add additional copies of newer files as they're modified.

Backward: store a full copy of the newest snapshot, and keep older versions of files that have been modified.

Forward is nice when using removable backup media, because it works like a log: you can keep adding new versions of files to new discs.

But if you're going to store everything on a big hard disk, backward is nice because because (a) it's easy to recover from the latest backup (which is what you're most likely to want), and (b) it's easy to delete the oldest files to free up disk space.

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