Apple’s Time Machine app does two things to help Mac users backup files in case of drive failure or a stolen Mac. But Time Machine only does one thing well, and even that can be improved to help Mac users overcome a catastrophic failure.
Time Machine backups up files from your Mac to an external disk drive. That’s good, and far better than no backup at all. Time Machine also makes copies of files that get changed so you can back up in time, so to speak, and retrieve a file that’s been lost or deleted. Of course, Time Machine can be used to restore a Mac’s disk drive, but don’t use it for that unless you’re a glutton for punishment and have the time to wait. SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner are better solutions to get your Mac up and running quickly.
What Time Machine is missing is what you find in a useful Mac backup utility known as Arq. Think of Arq as Time Machine without the external disk, which, like your Mac, is subject to disaster, theft, or failure. Instead, Arq backs up your Mac’s files to remote servers online, such as Amazon’s popular and affordable S3 service.
Arq works much like Time Machine and makes incremental backups every hour, every day, and only uploads the files that have changed since the last backup. Arq is smart, too, and lets you set a budget for Amazon S3 storage which automatically drops the oldest backups so you are still covered but within a budget.
Arq’s interface is straightforward and devoid of confusing clutter. Create a backup set, select the folder of files you want to backup, select the destination, and let Arq do its thing.
The beauty of using Arq to backup files remotely is that almost everything is handled in the background so you don’t have to worry about arcane settings or convoluted configurations.
For example, files are encrypted before backup so they’re not accessible by anyone else. And, unlike many other online backup systems, Arq saves and restores both data and metadata the Mac way. Like Time Machine, Arq is mostly set-it-and-forget-it but also keeps multiple backups of your files. You can even control the upload transfer rate, but it works in the background.
Arq requires almost no effort to setup and begin a backup. But you will need an Amazon S3 account, though the latest version of Arq also works Google Cloud Storage and other S3-compatible storage options.