Back my Mac up online
December 25, 2008 10:46 AM   Subscribe

What's the best software for automated online backups for OSX?

I have a Dreamhost account with unlimited storage and transfer, and I'd like to use that as a place to remotely backup the data on my Macbook Pro (mostly photos from iPhoto). MobileMe is a ripoff.

You'd think there'd be a nice piece of software that runs in the background and allows me to set a few directories to be synced, and any additions to those folders are automatically reflected online. True? Something that uses SSH or FTP, maybe?

I know about rsync but I'm stupid and I want a GUI.

What are my options?
posted by c:\awesome to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The first thing to note is that you only have 50 GB available on Dreamhost for personal file backups, with some limitations, but that's still a lot of space.

For the GUI part you can probably use an FTP client like Transmit that has syncing features, but it won't run invisibly in the background and back things up as you go. For that, your best bet really is rsync launched every now and then via launchd.

Perhaps someone else knows of a GUI app that I don't, or perhaps there's a tutorial somewhere that can walk you through exactly what you need to do.

Good luck!
posted by Xuff at 11:21 AM on December 25, 2008

That 50gb link is interesting, Xuff.

It says, "It is against DreamHosts's policy for you to use your DreamHost file storage for personal file storage that is not related to one of your websites." Fortunately, my own personal website is on Dreamhost, and therefor these files would, in fact, be related to one of my websites, so I don't think the 50gb limit counts.

Thanks for the link, though. Hopefully someone else will chime in with an ideal solution!
posted by c:\awesome at 11:37 AM on December 25, 2008

This recent thread should be useful. I'm using the free version of Mozy right now and think it's the bees knees.
posted by junkbox at 11:54 AM on December 25, 2008

Thanks, junkbox -- I saw that thread -- but unless Mozy (or any of the other suggestions) have the ability to backup to your own server (instead of theirs), it's not quite what I'm looking for. To be ultra clear: I want something I can use with my existing Dreamhost server.
posted by c:\awesome at 11:58 AM on December 25, 2008

mac osx rsync gui - arSynch

FYI, that 'it's my personal website' idea didn't work for me when I wanted to setup a private andromeda server, YMMV. They will notice right away when you start uploading stuff that isn't being served to the general public, and they'll let you know if they think you owe them more money. It was about 2 hours after I started uploading for me....
posted by nomisxid at 12:01 PM on December 25, 2008

seconding Xuff - you can write a simple script that rsyncs on a daily basis (or however). i've done this for syncing between computers and it works pretty well, as rsync only copies what's changed. does require some programming though, and launchd is kinda weird if you haven't used it before.

(the 50GB limit, BTW, is for their Files Forever service. Files Forever is stuff not related to your website and is not accessible through the Web, really. it's also not backed up on their end. I've got DreamHost too, and I use it for certain things that I want to be absolutely certain won't be accessible through my website.)

alternatively, you can do this with Automator, which comes with OS X. combine it with MacFUSE to mount your Files Forever space (or whatever other SCP/SFTP storage) on your desktop, and create a script in Automator that just copies things that were changed in the last X days or whathaveyou. (this is really only 2 actions. it should be really straightforward.) this would also work with things like Dropbox, or Amazon S3 (when you combine MacFUSE with s3fs).

finally, don't underestimate combining your storage space with something like the Backup program that comes with MobileMe or Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper!
posted by mrg at 12:10 PM on December 25, 2008

I've been looking at Duplicity for something similar, but I haven't tried it yet. It does encrypted differential backups to a remote server.

Good luck with Dreamhost. Their prices might look great, but hosts like that make big promises with the expectation that people won't actually use everything promised, and just to be sure, they put up various impediments.
posted by Good Brain at 12:23 PM on December 25, 2008

I've been using Jungle Disk, and it recently saved my bacon.

Lost the hard drive in my Mac Mini about 3 weeks ago, and after getting the unit back from Apple, I was able to restore my ~home directory from Amazon S3.

Program is very easy to setup for backups, and the restore was a breeze. And all of your data on Amazon is encrypted by Jungle Disk, so it's secure.
posted by dirt at 12:34 PM on December 25, 2008

You'll want to encryption if you use Jungle Disk, but be advised it is really slow.
posted by plexi at 2:33 PM on December 25, 2008

I am pretty fond of CrashPlan. I haven't tried it with dreamhost, though.
posted by procrastination at 8:34 AM on December 26, 2008

I've used Mozy for about a year, and at first, I thought it worked great. I had heard lots of negative feedback about Mozy at that time, but decided to try it myself anyway. The free 2GB account worked well, then I decided to pony up the dough for an unlimited account.

You probably know how this story ends. After a few months, I found that Mozy would just stop backing stuff up. The mozybackup process would regularly hang, and even selecting folders and files to backup would cause the Mozy preferences to crash. Turns out, everyone who said Mozy sucked was right. It's fine if you have small amounts of data to backup, but anything larger than a few gigabytes, and you'll most likely have problems.

Thankfully about the same time that I started hating Mozy, CrashPlan for OSX came out. It's absolutely brilliant. And absolutely reliable. I have 49 GB of data backed up using it, and it's been backing up like clockwork with no problems.

What's awesome about CrashPlan is that you dont have to subscribe to their online backup plan if you have your own computer (i.e. at work, your friends house, etc) that you can use to push your CrashPlan backups to. The best part about this is that you can do your initial backup to that computer over a LAN connection, so it doesnt take 4 million years to upload your first backup to the cloud. From then on, CrashPlan will do block-level incremental backups of your system over the internet. You can even use your friends and family's computers to backup your data for free (they dont need a CrashPlan license if all they are doing is acting as a backup host), and since CP encrypts your data before it leaves your computer, you dont have to worry about them snooping on your data.

CrashPlan seems to be doing everything right in my observation. I do wish they had better support for Spotlight, so you can have more granular backup rules. You can't, for example, specify that *all* .DOC or .XLS files get backed up, regardless of where they exist on your system (you have to manually specify specific folders and files to backup, much like Time Machine), nor can you tell it to ignore specific filetypes. But other than that, CrashPlan seems to be the best solution for reliable, secure personal backup on the Mac. I'm totally impressed with it.
posted by melorama at 11:41 AM on December 26, 2008

Oh. Nevermind. I didn't see your followup regarding the Dreamhost requirement. Let's just pretend I didnt spend 10 minutes typing up all that gushing praise for CrashPlan.

It's a bit ironic though. As I was typing that out, I had an FTP download queue running in the background, consisting of about 6 GB of data that Dreamhost was threatening to today (actually, they threatened to suspend my account), simply because they weren't being directly linked to from any of my DH hosted websites.

Dreamhost are a bunch of incompetent, deceptive weasels. Using their servers for backing your data up (even their dedicated "backup" servers, which are not true backup servers, because they dont actually backup those servers themselves!) is a bad idea.
posted by melorama at 11:52 AM on December 26, 2008

"Dreamhost was threatening to delete", that is...
posted by melorama at 11:53 AM on December 26, 2008

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