How do I back up on mac SSD – AND external SSD (using two clouds)?
May 13, 2021 10:50 AM   Subscribe

I need to add a separate cloud backup program to my Apple MBP laptop, and it needs to handle backing up an external SSD that isn't always connected to the computer, as automatically as possible. My main data is on Dropbox, this is for stuff I use less often. What are your experiences in this situation?

I bought the M1 MBP which has a 1 tb ssd. The stuff I need to have on hand is more than that, mostly sample banks for music, but also big data collections for graphic design.

I have Dropbox, which would have ample space for all of it, but it only works with one folder, the Dropbox folder, which would have to be on one of the two disks. I need to have my Dropbox data on hand always, and all known dropbox workarounds come with data loss dangers. So this would have to be an additional cloud service.

In addition to Dropbox I subscribe to the Apple iCloud, and I get 1 tb of OneCloud with the Office 365 subscription. I'll probably end up with a Google Business account one of these days, which comes with 2 tb storage. I'm open to other options, but I'd like to keep costs down.

What experiences do you have using cloud services to back up external drives? Is there anything that comes to mind that could be automagic, stable, not too taxing on system resources?
posted by svenni to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You could use Backblaze or iDrive to back up your external drive.

If you need more than 4 TB or so you could look into a Synology NAS and use its backup integration features.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:57 AM on May 13, 2021

Best answer: I'm no expert, but I've handled this by using a local Synology NAS configured to act as a Time Machine backup target. So, when the Mac can see it (i.e., is on the same wifi network), it will backup to it. Additionally, the Synology NAS is configured to backup its data to the cloud (I use Backblaze for cloud storage) using Synology's Hyperbackup app.
posted by SNACKeR at 12:08 PM on May 13, 2021

So the problem is that a lot of (all of?) the cloud services don't have all of the data from the cloud on your local disk, so the backup service doesn't have as much to back up. For example, checking my ~/Library/Mobile Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs folder versus what iCloud Drive says I have, I only have 11 of the top level folders out of 26, so anything that I haven't downloaded from the cloud doesn't exist locally, so the Backblaze client hasn't picked it up and I can't recover it. I suppose the argument could be made that anything that you have edited will be held locally and therefore backed up, and anything you haven't edited is only off in the cloud, so blissfully free from user error?

I'm not sure if there's a way to really resolve that without downloading everything in your clouds locally, either. I know some of them have a recently deleted sort of trashcan / snapshot service that you can recover out of, but that's not entirely guaranteed.
posted by Kyol at 1:06 PM on May 13, 2021

Best answer: I use Arq to backup to the cloud - it has come in useful a few times. It runs every hour on each computer in the house. It does external drives as well. When they're are not connected I believe it just skips them.
posted by homesickness at 1:33 PM on May 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have been using Crashplan for this purpose for the last 10 years, and chose it because they don't care whether your external drives stay disconnected for more than 30 days. Last time I checked, Backblaze and other services required that your external drives be connected at least once a month or data would be deleted. Caveats: Crashplan is maddeningly slow at times, the Mac app is poorly designed, and it costs $11/month. I have tried to leave them several times but still haven't found anything better for my needs. Maybe I will check out Arq again.
posted by oxisos at 2:29 PM on May 13, 2021

Best answer: Seconding Arq.
posted by dmd at 6:10 PM on May 13, 2021

Best answer: Backblaze does delete backed up data from an external drive if it’s not connected for 30 days, unless you add on the Extended Version History option. That gives you 1 year or “forever”.
posted by fabius at 5:32 AM on May 14, 2021

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