Mac backup apps come and go but it’s the good ones that stick around. Through the years I’ve used most, but settled on the most popular cloning utility for my Macs while ignoring the glowing reviews of a few others.
This week I tried ChronoSync just to see why a few co-workers are so high on this famous Mac backup app. Unlike SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner, which are setup to do easy and near perfect clones of your Mac’s disk and little else, ChronoSync is something of a Swiss Army Knife backup utility. If you’ve ever used a Swiss Army Knife then you know there’s a learning curve. That’s the case with ChronoSync.
My expectations for a Mac backup app are simple. Select what to backup. Select where to back it up. Click start. Eat lunch. Shop awhile. Backup done. ChronoSync is different although it does the typical Source target and Destination target so you can select which files to backup from your Mac and where to send them to be backed up.
Here’s what I found. Select files as the Source target. Then select the Destination target. Then check to see the Trial Sync before the actual sync takes place.
That’s not exactly the Cubs winning the World Series but it deserves an amen. You see exactly what gets backed up before it gets backed up.
ChronoSync is packed with features, hence the slightly more than delicate learning curve.
Sync – Sync files from here to there; Mac to Mac, Mac to storage. Sync one way, two ways, or mirror.
Backup – Sometimes I wonder what the difference between a sync and a backup really is, but in this case a backup means keeping critical files away from your Mac and on another storage device.
Clone – ChronoSync calls it a bootable backup which may differ a bit from a fully cloned backup but the result is the same; an easy way to get your Mac up and running after a disaster.
Archive – This is like a backup but more for version and archival purposes, especially useful to get files out of the home or office.
Scheduler – Oh, please. This is the coolest feature in ChronoSync. Set up a backup document of any kind and use the scheduler to have it run whenever. It. Just. Works.
Monitoring – ChronoSync can send you an email message of the results of a backup (clone, sync, whatever) so you can rest assured that all went well (or, rush home to see what went wrong; that hasn’t happened yet).
Filters – Most clone backups are an all or nothing issue; everything gets backed up. ChronoSync has all kinds of filters and exception options available so you can backup certain files, exclude others, and get downright granular with an automatic backup.
Now, back to that learning curve. It’s not as bad as I expected after starting up ChronoSync. There are many, many options, but start simple with a backup of, say, the Documents folder on your Mac to another Mac or an external disk. Use the monitoring and scheduler functions after that. From there on it’s easy to see why ChronoSync is so revered among smart and experienced Mac users.
It took some effort to wrap my head around the backup document feature. Basically, you create a document which holds all the backup details, whether sync, mirror, different files, or whatever options you choose. That means you can create multiple documents for different backup scenarios and use the Scheduler to ensure they run at particular times. Even better is the option to stack backup documents into a container of documents and have the scheduler run multiple documents, one after the other.
That’s efficiency, folks. You’ll need to devote some time to setup ChronoSync but it’s actually more logical and straightforward than all the visible options would make it seem. Highly recommended for experienced Mac users, but recent switchers might want to start with basic syncs then move to more esoteric functions. Other ChronoSync users have similar experiences to mine.