Monday, May 21, 2012

A New, Easy, Inexpensive Way To Backup Your Mac’s Valuable Files Online

My Mac backup system works well. I clone each Mac to an external hard disk drive. Each Mac also has an external hard disk drive for Time Machine. And, I have a few extra disk drives that also backup each Mac’s valuable files.

So far, so good, right? My most important Mac files are backed up in multiple locations.

The problem with this backup plan is that it’s still not complete. Catastrophes being what they are, my backup plan doesn’t account for fire, flood, tornado, earthquake, hurricane, or theft.

All the files are still right where I use them– on my Macs in my home office.

That glaring flaw in my backup plan spurred me to find an online solution. In this case, there are a dozen online services and apps that automatically copy your Mac’s files to a remote server location for easy online retrieval.

The one I chose is the easiest to use, most flexible, and gives me the most control. The Mac app that does the online backup is called Arq. The online storage system I use is Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).

What Arq does is rather simple. Add folders from your Mac to Arq. Arq automatically backs them up to Amazon S3 (you’ll need an Amazon account for S3– they’re reliable, and inexpensive).

Retrieval of a backup is equally simple. Grab the backed up file in Arq to the Finder and it begins restoring the files.

The reason I chose Arq instead of one of the other online services has to do with Mac files. Arq preserves all the meta data information precisely. Most other services do not.

Amazon’s S3 services also has 99.999999999% durability, with multiple backup data centers for uploaded files. It even comes with five gigabytes of online storage for free. You only pay for what you use.

After the initial backup, Arq makes incremental backups of files that have changed. Then, like Time Machine, it makes hourly backups become daily backups, and daily backups become weekly backups.

The drag and drop setup is remarkably elegant and Mac-like.

Arq Drag and Drop

Arq doesn’t care how big or small your files are (mine is pushing 100-gigabytes). It makes multiple backup versions and can be scheduled (per hour, per day, or manually).

Preferences are straightforward, too.

Arq Preferences

You even control the backup upload speed (Amazon’s maximum, or your internet service provider’s maximum, or slower). Arq saves space by not backing up the same file twice.

The app also has a Menubar icon. Click once to see the current stats and last and next backup. Arq is a nicely done Mac app that works in the background to move your valuable files away from your Mac to a safe and secure and affordable offsite location.