From manually dragging and dropping the Documents folder to an external disk, to a full on, totally bootable clone of your Mac’s hard disk drive or solid state drive, there are dozens and dozens of methods; all better than not backing up at all.
Today I want to explore something beyond Time Machine and SuperDuper! The former simply stores changed files on an external disk, while the latter creates the aforementioned clone of your Mac. In-between you’ll find Mac backup utilities which are more focused and actually easier than drag and drop.
What are the major categories of important files that should be backed up? Documents? Sure. The Mac’s entire system? Easy in a clone backup. What about Calendar, Contacts, iWork app documents? All backed up to iCloud. Mail comes to mind as an issue because everyone does email. So, here’s a Mac backup utility that backs up Mail.
It’s called Horcrux Email Backup and the title pretty much says everything you need to know. It’s not expensive, especially considering the value of email, and it works differently than merely copying files on your Mac. Horcrux logs into any IMAP email system and makes an ongoing backup of stored email.
All you’ll need to get started are your email credentials. Horcrux works with Gmail, Microsoft Exchange, iCloud and should work fine on any up-to-date IMAP system.
The app resides in the background and just works. But it has standalone features which let you change the backup frequency, setup automated backups to multiple locations, add email accounts, and even browse specific accounts to delete or undelete email messages.
If email is a big part of your life, and if so, you have my condolences, Horcrux gives you a bit more peace of mind. Messages can be archived and stored elsewhere. The restore process skips over messages already in Mail on your Mac. And messages can be stored in the standard .mbox format so be transportable to other email apps.
The real question here is this. Do you need a specialized backup up which backs up only one thing, or would a complete bootable clone of the Mac itself be a better option. That will depend upon your requirements but it is difficult to argue with multiple clones, yet archiving massive amounts of email and moving the archives offsite preserves the messages making them less vulnerable to a catastrophic failure of your Mac and backups.
You know, different strokes for different folks. Clones are great to get yourself back online if your Mac fails, but I see an advantage in being able to backup Mail, Music, Pictures, and Documents away from your home or office.