Most Mac backup plans are not secure and have a fatal flaw that fails when catastrophe strikes. Catastrophe? Run down the list. Fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, theft. Any one of those can render a Time Machine backup or an external backup clone useless. Somewhere in your Mac backup plan there needs to be an offsite, off premise component.
In other words, get your most critically valuable Mac files out of the house or office, and stored somewhere– safe and secure– online.
Kudos to Apple for providing Time Machine free with each Mac. But Time Machine has the same flaw in the ointment that a standard external cloned disk backup has– it’s subject to catastrophic events. The only way around that is to copy critical Mac files somewhere else.
What about iCloud? Apple’s own online storage service isn’t really bad, so much as it’s expensive and the Mac maker’s record for reliability of anything online is subject to some much deserved criticism. I use a mixture of backup routines, from clones to Time Machine to network backups to online backups. iCloud is reserved for basic settings, not critical files.
My favorite online backup tool is one that I get to control; not one of the commercial apps and services that have become popular. I use Arq on my Macs and backup critical files to Amazon’s Simple Storage Service– Amazon S3.
If you have an Amazon account then you’re little more than a few clicks from getting yourself an Amazon S3 account. Arq backs up files from your Macs to Amazon S3. Fast. Silent. Encrypted. Easily restored.
To be fair, there are plenty of other online services from iCloud to Google Drive, from Dropbox to Microsoft OneDrive, and many others. I chose Amazon because it’s inexpensive and reliable. I chose Arq to do the backups for similar reasons, but there are other options.
One is called Freeze and it works somewhat like Arq, but a bit less expensive, fewer features, but with a focus on Amazon’s Glacier storage. Translated: less expensive, more storage, slower retrieval.
Freeze works by creating secure vaults of your Mac’s files on Amazon Glacier; easy to browse and search. If bandwidth is an issue, Freeze can throttle itself and yet transfer multiple files in parallel. Folders on your Mac can be synchronized to Glacier. Drag and drop, if you prefer the simplicity.
There’s an option to manage multiple accounts, each with their own keys, and Freeze does not use a proprietary encoding so your files are accessible, even with other applications or a web browser.
Unlike Arq, Freeze is all Amazon Glacier and not Amazon S3 and that’s OK. Arq and S3 give you more options, but collectively more expensive. Glacier and Freeze are dirt cheap, relatively speaking, and you only pay for the storage you use.
My recommendation is to try it out on your Mac’s Documents folder, then add other critical files as you become comfortable with the process. That’s the same recommendation I make with Arq, which also works with Amazon CloudDrive, Amazon AWS, GoogleDrive, Google Cloud, Dropbox, and Microsoft’s OneDrive. Oh, and Amazon Glacier.
I don’t know of a better, less expensive, easier to manage online backup system that you control (as opposed to turning over your files to an online backup service and pay by the month– forever).