Data storage is crucial to keeping your work and personal life flowing smoothly. The scary part is, even a problem as minor as a bad sector on the hard drive can cause you to lose all your data. This is why it is essential to back up every piece of data that you’re sure about needing in the future.
The Time Machine was designed to help you back up data on your Mac and but it has several flaws and weak points. Examples of such weak points are its inability to work offsite, clone a hard drive, or create bootable backup. All of which are deal-breakers for someone who wants complete control over their data and personal files. Of course, you don’t have to take out the Time Machine completely, you can use an alternative as a complement.
With the release of macOS Ventura recently, Apple has given more power to the users, allowing manual backups to be created. Earlier, if you wanted to create a backup using Time Machine, you would need special tools to change the backup plan. However, macOS Ventura is still in the beta phase, and while the feature is being welcomed by many, it might push you to delete older backups.
Regardless of the new update to Time Machine, macOS users have preferred third-party apps over Apple’s very own backup software. Fortunately, we have so many alternatives today and here’s a look at our top 7 favorite ones.
7 Time Machine alternatives for Mac backup
Carbonite is a software that allows you to easily backup your documents, photos and other important files in an online database. The security provided by Carbonite to protect your data is also quite good, so if you use this method to backup your data, make sure to enable the Private Encryption option.
The exact features you get using Carbonite depend on the price plan you choose. You can get the option to back up your Mac, external hard drives and servers. The procedure to set up your backup is very simple, but that does lead to quite a rigid system with very little space for customized options. You can only select a backup option from the choices provided.
Even though Carbonite is a good backup option, it does happen to lag a bit behind other applications in terms of features offered. Also, the download speeds are not that good, but then again, they do offer a courier recovery service.
- Very easy to use.
- Carbonite mobile is also available.
- Has pre-planned options for backup.
- Has a courier recovery service to combat slow speeds.
- Has a great security system.
Price: Starting from $4.20/month
Why Carbonite is a good alternative to Time Machine:
Time Machine only keeps daily backups for around 30 days before deleting them, and the hourly backups are only kept for a day. Using Carbonite allows you to keep your backups secure for longer periods in case you want to recover an older backup.
ChronoSync, a software developed by Econ Technologies, is arguably the best syncing tool for any Mac system available. The latest version of ChronoSync, called ChronoSync v10, offers support for both Intel and Apple Silicon-based macs. The biggest feature of this update is that it not only is compatible with Monterey and Big Sur but also offers you the ability to sync your System volume.
Since Big Sur came to macOS, people lost the ability to sync or copy their System volume and could only backup their Data volume. Even though ChronoSync did offer a way to create bootable backups on Big Sur, the whole process was a bit convoluted and could only copy the Data volume. So the ChronoSync v10 is a really good option if you want to backup your System and Data volume.
ChronoSync also allows you to sync directly to your iCloud and Google Drive, so you can even backup your cloud storage to another medium and vice versa. The ChronoSync v10 takes advantage of the AFPS replication utility by Apple to create clones of your System volume and then handle only Data volume in later syncs. That way you won’t need to create backups of the System volume every time you sync your Mac using ChronoSync v10.
- Works only on macOS 10.12 and later.
- Can clone System volume even on Big Sur and Monterey.
- Can sync on iCloud and Google Cloud.
- Supports both Intel and Apple Silicon-based systems.
Price: Starting from $49.99
Why ChronoSync is a good alternative to Time Machine:
Unlike Time Machine, ChronoSync v10 allows you to sync your system volume; plus it also allows you to sync to your iCloud and Google Drive to backup and restore files directly to and from a cloud-based backup.
Get Backup Pro is a really good option for anyone looking to back up their important data. This tool has a lot of exciting features that make it one of the best options for backing up your important files. Apart from the standard full backup option, you can also choose to set up an incremental backup option. This means that only the files that were created after your last backup will be backed up instead of the whole data in your system.
Additionally, you create bootable backups for when you update your system and get a new Mac. This can be done via the cloning feature that creates a clone of your disk volume that you can use to boot up your new disk using either APFS or HFS+. Since the cloned drive is bootable and keeps the data transferred onto it, you can use it even in case your new disk dies, which is a great safety net to have.
Not only do you get the option to archive your data onto external drives, network volumes, CDs or DVDs, but you can also encrypt the data using AES-128, AES-256, Blowfish or Triple DES. There’s also the option to synchronize files and folders on your Mac with another computer or mounted drive using the Get Backup Pro.
- You get incremental and compressed backups
- Bootable backups can be created.
- Encrypted backup options are available.
- You can backup to any external or network drive.
- You can set up automated backup and sync.
- Folder synchronization can be enabled.
- You can transfer data to any computer.
Why Get Backup Pro is a good alternative to Time Machine:
Time Machine limits its backups to the traditional HFS+ file system, but Get Backup Pro allows you to use even the new APFS. Get Backup Pro also offers bootable backups which is a feature not available in Time Machine.
Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) is a software that allows you to create backups of your important documents in an easy and simple way. Using the Carbon Copy Cloner you can back up either your individual folders or your full hard drives to any external drive, bootable drive or another system on the network. By using the Carbon Copy Cloner you can choose how you want to back up whichever files you want.
The CCC 6 has been created using a next-generation file copier that allows this software to work at extreme speeds while creating or downloading backups. Not only does this all software backup new or edited files but it also offers quick updates that can be installed without having to do any complicated changes.
You can also recover files that were either accidentally deleted or corrupted by malware using the Snapshot feature in the CCC 6. The company also offers strategies and configuration tips to help you make the most out of the backups you make using the CCC 6. They also have a great support team that can be reached with just a single click in the Copy Coach window of the software.
- Snapshot Navigator to help explore older files.
- Bootable backups to use wherever you want without losing your files.
- Carbon Copy Cloner Dashboard gives ease of access to all features.
- Backup for new and modified files after the initial backup.
- Copy Coach to help you out with your backup.
- Free 30-Day Trial.
Price: Starting from $39.99.
Why Carbon Copy Cloner is a good alternative to Time Machine:
CCC 6 allows you to back up either your individual folders or your full hard drives to any external drive, bootable drive or another system on the network. Time Machine, on the other hand, only allows backups to official apple network destinations. The Snapshot feature of CCC also doesn’t have any analogue in Time Machine.
SuperDuper is a widely known and liked software that allows you to create backups and restore data from them in a hassle-free manner. The interface of this software is really simple and easy to use, so no one faces any issue in creating a backup of their crucial data. It’s a great software to use in tandem with Time Machine because it covers any problems that Time Machine may overlook.
SuperDuper also allows you to create fully bootable backups that can be used either on another mac or your system in case of a disk failure. It also has a scheduler function built in that makes it really easy to set up an automated backup schedule. The bootable backups can also be made on macOS Big Sur and Monterey.
This software also boasts Smart Wake and Smart Delete features. The Smart Wake feature allows your mac to back up whether it’s awake or asleep and doesn’t turn on the screen in case the mac is awake. The Smart Delete functionality minimizes any possibility of disk full errors, and using it doesn’t come with any drawbacks on speed. SuperDuper also allows you to create backups from snapshots, so using an APFS backup drive will allow you to restore to any recent Smart Update.
- Widely acclaimed software
- Easy-to-use interface
- Can create bootable backups
- Smart Wake and Smart Delete features are available.
- Can schedule backups for automatic backup
Why SuperDuper is a good alternative to Time Machine:
SuperDuper overcomes many deficiencies in Time Machine. This backup tool allows you to make bootable backups of your System volumes even on Big Sur and Monterey. SuperDuper also allows you to automate or schedule your backups in an easy way.
Retrospect is an old name in the backup software industry, and has earned its top-tier reputation due to its solid features and support system. Using Retrospect, it’s super easy to automate your backups. Just choose your compression and encryption options, define when you want the backup to run, and select your destination. You can even create disaster recovery media using this software.
Retrospect also allows you to create progressive backups which are a combination of incremental and differential backups. That way, you can rest easy knowing all your data is safe and accounted for. The backed-up data is also protected by backup, archive and duplicate features that come with Retrospect.
The ProactiveAI feature present in Retrospect allows the backup window to be optimised for the whole network environment to ensure that every source is protected. Numerous other features such as Geo Tracking, Monitoring, Security Reporting, Ransomware Protection, Cloud Data Protection etc make it arguably the best backup software in the market. It does have a bit of a learning curve, but the benefits outweigh this teensy little problem.
- Jam-packed with awesome features
- Data encryption is also available
- Plans for both solo systems and enterprises are available
- You can create progressive backups so only new or edited files will be backed up in the future.
- Quite easy once you get used to the interface
- Can backup all media types
Price: Starting at $3/month or $49/year
Why Retrospect is a good alternative to Time Machine:
Retrospect allows you to create incremental backups, which is a feature missing in Time Machine, plus you can choose the encryption you want your backup to have. The ProactiveAI feature of this software provides many security features which are not available in the native Time Machine app.
Backblaze is a software native to Mac and PC and doesn’t use Java in its processing. It is a great option for online cloud backup storage for a single PC – it’s unlimited, easy to set up, and backed by everything approach that will appeal to newcomers. You can access the files anywhere, even on Android and iOS. However, more advanced users may want more control over the backup selection, as it is missing a folder-syncing option.
Backblaze allows you to restore your data from the web, or get an external drive with your data shipped to you. You’ll need to pay for this method, but you’ll get a full refund upon returning the hard drive. You can use this software to restore backup versions that are up to 30 days old. You can choose to automate or schedule your backups and get notified of your backup status too.
Additionally, all your files are encrypted before getting transmitted, and you can also use a private encryption key for additional security. That way, you will be the only one who’ll be able to unlock your backup. You also get the choice to opt for a Two-Factor authentication via ToTP or SMS no matter which backup plan you choose.
- Unlimited backup size offered
- Mobile Apps for iPhone and Android are available
- You can get a USB drive with your data shipped to you to restore your data.
- You can schedule backups and automate them
- You can also share the files that you’ve backed up.
- Two-factor authentication can be enabled.
- You can set up a private key for securing your backup.
Price: Starting at $7/month
Why Backblaze is a good alternative to Time Machine:
If you want to restore an old backup, you can use download it from the web; or get Backblaze to ship an external drive with your data to you. You can even use a private encryption key for tighter security. Also, you can access Backblaze even on your mobile phone, which isn’t possible in Time Machine.
What to look for a Mac backup software?
This is a very important question we need to answer else none of these alternatives is worth mentioning. The simple answer to this is to be able to back up your files properly. No one wants that feeling of insecurity or uncertainty about backup especially when you are working on an important project.
There are several features you should look out for before choosing a backup application. We have put together a list of some of these key features you should watch out for. They include:
Backup types: Your backup app should be able to provide you multiple backup types. For example, with local backup, you are able to make copies of folders and files on an external HDD. This way, even when you lose the file on your computer, restoring it is very easy. Disk images or bootable clones allows you to boot from a backup drive when your hard drive has issues. Finally, cloud backup functions gives you insurance regardless of what happens to your physical location.
Syncing files: While syncing files is not considered as a true backup, it is a very helpful feature. It is great when you work using multiple devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Synchronizing your documents across all these devices makes it easy to work remotely. It also means that if one of your devices is damaged, you can continue on another device and work on your data from any location.
Interface: While reviewing the apps, one of the things we paid attention to was the interface which accounts for how easy it is for the user to navigate the app and also if the aesthetics are pleasing to the eyes. Let’s face it, backups can be time consuming and you don’t want an app that makes it difficult to accomplish. In the case of SuperDuper, although it is not as colorful as Backblaze, it is still quite easy to navigate. Carbonite is also another app which leverages on its user interface to improve its functionality. At a glance, you can see the features of the app and easily access the preferred solution.
Should I use file backup or cloning?
To help you know which one to use, it is important to distinguish between them by way of definition.
File backup means you create an image file used in backing up your data for easy recovery. Disk cloning, on the other hand, moves all the contents of your drive to an HDD. You should understand this better when you know how each of these processes works. File backup carries all the contents of the partition or disk you are backing up. This includes applications, folders, files, and the OS and you can store everything on a separate storage device.
Disk cloning on the other hand copies all the contents of the disk to a new disk which means both disks have the same content. With this, it is clear that disk cloning is only necessary when you need to move to a larger disk drive.
File backup or imaging will ensure that you get back to work faster in all circumstances. This is because it is very similar to creating a zip file, only this time, it is without the zip extension. Basically, file backup compresses the files and stores them away. The only challenge is that if your original drive fails, you need a new drive before you can restore your data.
Looking beyond this, we will always recommend file backup because it provides you more versatility. It is a more economical backup option and it allows you to save different versions of the same files or disk.
What my backup strategy should look like
A sound backup strategy is very important for the purpose of safeguarding and storing data so that it can be easily accessed when you need it. There are many ways to shape your backup strategy, but we would recommend you to follow the strategy outlined below. This way, if you were working on an important project, you’ll be able to get your backed-up files and continue your work promptly and easily.
Incremental or Versioned Backups: Use a tool that allows you to backup only the edited and new files instead of the whole volume every time you back up your Mac.
Offsite or Cloud-Based Backup: Make sure to keep a copy of your backup offsite. This will allow you to have a secure and complete backup on hand in the case of an accident (fire, flood, robbery etc.) in your primary backup location.
Backup Mac or iOS Device: You should also have a backup Mac or MacBook on which you can use to restore your data on and keep working if you’re on a deadline for a project. For this purpose, you can use an old Mac or even an iPad that you’ve got lying around.
Bootable Backup: It is important to have a bootable version of your System volume so that you can get a new or restored mac working in a very short time. Again, this is very handy especially if you’re on a deadline, or just don’t want the hassle to setup you Mac again.
Don’t lose your data, backup now
Having a good backup software, especially one that can create bootable backups, is a really handy safety net that should be utilised by everyone who uses a computer. Having a backup and not needing it is always better than not having one in case your disk dies on you at a crucial time. Hopefully, after reading this post, you’ll have found the solution that is just the right one according to your specific need, which you can use to create Mac backups of your important data and files.