Modern Backup Techniques

I know this has been discussed many times since the introduction of the separate system volume (in Catalina), but now that the dust has mostly settled I’d like to see how MPU’ers are doing backups of macOS, and the tools that are being used to accomplish it.

I’m interested in whether you are backing up both volumes, the tools and techniques you are using, and your rationales for using those tools and techniques.

Personally, I’m still using old-school methods: Time Machine with an Apple Time Capsule, plus complete bootable clones (that is, the system volume and the data volume) using SuperDuper. I have two pairs of clone discs, each pair cloning the two Macs in our household (both of which are Intel machines). One pair is at home, the other in a safety deposit box at our bank. At “significant” times (e.g. completion of a big project or returning from a trip), the pairs are swapped.

I’m looking forward to hearing your approaches.

I backup data-only, to Backblaze, and to two separate SSDs using Carbon Copy Cloner. I backup Photos to Synology daily with CCC. I backup Documents and iCloud daily to Synology with Arq.

I have never on any Mac had long-term success with Time Machine. No matter what Mac or version of OS X or macOS I’ve used, I get to about month 8 on TM backups and it freaks and tells me it is corrupted and has to start over. Maybe the electrons where I live are just poor quality – who knows, but I’ve avoided TM as a realistic backup solution.


I have similar setup, but using Backblaze plus TM. Also backing up important data to my Synology NAS

I use Backblaze as my cloud copy of everything.

I also mirror my documents folder to iCloud Drive and an external SSD.

I also use restic on my Documents Folder, Obsidian Vault, and Development folders and it was wild how fast they were restored when I got a new computer.

The mirroring and restic backup occur every hour my computer is awake.

I’ve pared down my former backup plan by removing duplicacy. Nothing wrong with it, and deduplication is nice, but it was all overkill. Also not using CCC as much, and ChronSync just copies a folder for DT access.

I’m using Backblaze for my offsite backup.
I use Arq 7 to backup to my Dell server running TrueNAS in a QEMU VM, and to my Synology DS918+ I use sftp to back up to both, and had to install OpenSSH on the Synology, as theirs sucked.

I also back up monthly to a couple of WD Passport drives, alternating each month.

Finally, I back up just my iMac Pro (not my striped 2x2T of SSD where my research lives) to what may or may not be a bootable SSD every week or so.

My wife is super happy now, as I installed Backblaze and Arq on her new M1, so she doesn’t have to think about doing backups. (I do make sure they’re happening.) Arq runs at 4am each day, and Backblaze is continuous, of course.

My research data, Obsidian notes, and some folders that were DT databases (now just folders) get copied by ResilioSync to my NAS and selectively to my M1 MBP.

I don’t do any creation on my MBP, so don’t back it up. I’ll probably install Arq on it soon and back up 1/day to my Dell.

I have an expendable Windows box, and will probably install Arq on it at some point.

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I have 2 Arqback jobs, one to B2 and another to OneDrive. And I backup to a time machine volume, in the off chance that it might work when needed. And I use Chronosync to backup everything to an offline usb drive that I connect once a week.

I’ve given up on bootable clones and just use CCC to make clones I can use to quickly restore a system. Also use Time Machine locally and BackBlaze for offsite.

Also don’t use bootable clones anymore…rebuilding a Mac from scratch it quick. All data is backed up multiple ways;

  1. using 2 clone SSD drives for the home folder which alternate live offsite (weekly clones)
  2. Full backups to Backblaze in the cloud and Time Machine on Synology NAS (real time backups)
  3. Full Dropbox sync with Synology NAS using CloudSync and selective syncs powered by Maestral on Mac Mini, MacBook Pro and server at MacStadium (which gives me a headless remote Mac desktop on my locked down Windows work machine)
  4. All music on NAS has a cloud backup in VOX, which I can use on the road as well. Found a lifetime unlimited deal years ago and have been a happy user ever since. It gave me high res music on the road years before streaming did
  5. All photos live on Mac, NAS, a clone drive in a secure location, and in a backblaze b2 bucket (incl. all unedited raw files)
  6. Movies are the only single digital copy I have on the NAS/Plex. Have a few old hard drives around with copies, but these are not up to date and I haven’t found an economical way to store them in the cloud yet. If something happens to my archive, I still have the physical discs or alternatively access to a streaming service to watch them in higher quality as most of them are DVD
  7. I do always have 2 empty spare NAS drives at hand in case I need to swap a faulty drive out. I do spin them up on a regular basis in a HDD docking station and make copies of the SSD clones, but they can be safely wiped when I need them

The only manual thing I have a reminder for is to swap the physical drives in the weekend for scheduled CCC cloning. All the rest just humms happily along ….


Just want to add. Amongst various things in my digital inventory, photos are the most valuable asset. Music, documents, apps, etc can be re-downloaded, re-purchased or even buy again. Photos of families and friends are hard to replicate once they are lost. Hence I have multiple tiers of backup for photos


My backup plan needs some updating - definitely trying out Backblaze for offsite.

I agree with you @fuzzygel, photos are my most precious data so having multiple backups (including, in my case, a more reliable offsite) is so important.

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