How to best back up a Mac using a non-Apple solution


The need to protect your Mac’s data should prove no surprise, but there are many options beyond using iCloud and Time Machine. Here are several leading options, should you need an Apple alternative.

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Image: Sikov/Adobe Stock

Backing up a Mac and protecting its data and configuration are usually jobs for Time Machine or iCloud. But for various reasons — maybe Apple isn’t an approved cloud services provider within your organization or your business insists on using Windows-based solutions — Mac users might need to turn to other options. Here are several compelling alternatives, including those that work locally, via cloud-based services or using hybrid models combining the best of both worlds.

Top non-Apple alternatives to back up your Mac

Local applications

There are a variety of Time Machine alternatives for Mac users. Those seeking to back up documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos, videos, email and other information locally, without proving dependent upon a network connection to securely transfer files to the Internet for safekeeping, can choose from a variety of strategies.

SEE: iCloud vs. OneDrive: Which is best for Mac, iPad and iPhone users? (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

For example, Western Digital’s My Passport for Mac products offer USB-C external hard drive options. The external drives are available in sizes up to 5TB — regularly $159.99 but on sale for $117.99 at the time of this writing — and boast built-in 256-bit AES hardware encryption and proprietary software to assist backing up and protecting the data Mac users store on their computers.

Seagate offers Mac users similar options with its Backup Plus drives. The manufacturer offers both USB-C-compatible external drives and proprietary software to assist synchronizing and backing up specific files and information. Both slim and desktop storage drives are available, including in different capacities ranging from 1TB up to 5TB, beginning around $50.

Hardened storage is another option. Mac users may choose ioSafe’s Solo G3, as shown in Figure A. Designed to withstand fire and water damage, the Solo G3 external desktop storage drive can be connected via a USB 3 cable to collect and safeguard a Mac’s data onsite.

Figure A

ioSafe’s Solo G3 permits storing Mac backups locally within a case that protects against fires and floods.
Image: ioSafe. ioSafe’s Solo G3 permits storing Mac backups locally within a case that protects against fires and floods.

While the device can collect Time Machine backups, users can also choose to manually back up Mac data to the ioSafe without employing Time Machine or even create and implement shortcuts that automate the backup process. Simple drag-and-drop operation is among the manufacturer’s recommendations. Should a disaster occur, two years of available forensic data recovery service is but another feature baked into the $299.99 2TB data storage option.

Used in conjunction with a tool such as Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office for Mac, a configuration sample of which is shown in Figure B, ioSafe’s solution can receive and store local image copies of the Mac. The approach enables recovering not just a Mac’s files but also its applications and settings, should the need require.

Figure B

Acronis’ Cyber Protection software features configuration software that permits customizing a wide variety of settings.
Image: Acronis. Acronis’ Cyber Protection software features configuration software that permits customizing a wide variety of settings.

Cloud services

Numerous applications are available for continually and securely backing up a Mac’s files to the cloud. Such providers include Backblaze and CrashPlan, for which a configuration sample is shown in Figure C.

Figure C

CrashPlan features an accessible software interface that simplifies the process of configuring various backup options.
Image: CrashPlan. CrashPlan features an accessible software interface that simplifies the process of configuring various backup options.

Backblaze enables backing up an unlimited number of Mac files and unlimited file sizes, important considerations for advertising and marketing professionals, audio and video producers, graphic artists and others who create large files often.

As is common, Backblaze offers both personal and business backup plans with the Backblaze Unlimited Backup for personal use starting at $7 per month. While files can be recovered over the Internet, the company can ship your data to you on an external hard drive for $189, an amount that is refunded when the drive is returned.

Similarly, CrashPlan offers continuous protection and unlimited storage, as well as customizable retention rules. The company offers both small business and enterprise accounts, with small business pricing starting at $9.99 per device per month.

Still other popular solutions synchronize data between specific Mac directories and the cloud. Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive are two prominent examples.

These popular cloud options, which maintain copies of data locally on a Mac but also sync files whenever changes are detected, offer compelling non-Apple solutions for backing up important files, especially common documents, spreadsheets, presentations, notes, images and videos. Whereas other solutions might prove more adept at backing up an entire Mac and its applications, these alternatives often serve to back up a Mac user’s most important and needed data, especially considering email is increasingly powered by hosted platforms that eliminate the need for making local backups of messages.

Hybrid solutions

Acronis — similar to many vendors — offers a cloud backup option. Thus, with an Acronis software solution in the mix, the corresponding Mac backups can be stored locally as reviewed earlier using a Seagate, Western Digital or even ioSafe device. Or, should a Mac user wish, Acronis images can also be backed up to the cloud or both, kept locally and in the cloud.

The same arrangement can also often be repeated using other cloud vendors. For example, you can add a local hard drive to CrashPlan and many other backup solutions, thereby providing a ready-made hybrid solution by maintaining both local and cloud-based backups.

Should I back up my Mac?

Whichever method you use, be sure to back up your Mac. Hard drives fail. Laptops can be stolen or lost. Coffees get spilled. Protect yourself, and your Mac’s data, from unexpected loss by ensuring you’ve deployed a trustworthy method for safely backing up and safeguarding your Mac’s information in a way it can be recovered according to your unique needs.



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