Types of Backups


Today’s Question: Over the years I have used several different backup approaches, but more recently everything is backed up via Time Machine through my iMac desktop. Can you comment on the differences between Time Machine and other backup options you’ve recommended?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key difference in Time Machine compared to the synchronization backup solution I prefer (http://timgrey.me/greybackup) is how the data will be recovered in the event of a failure. Time Machine requires a little more effort when it comes to recovering large amounts of data, while a synchronization backup provides a backup that is easier to recover from.

More Detail: One of the key advantages of a synchronization backup, such as the GoodSync software (http://timgrey.me/greybackup) that I use, is that the backup is an exact copy of the original. This makes recovering from a data loss much faster and easier.

For example, my primary photo storage is on an external hard drive. I use GoodSync to back up that photos drive to a backup drive (and a second backup as well). The result is that the file and folder structure on the backup drive is an exact match compared to the primary photo storage drive. So, if my photo drive fails, I can simply make sure that the volume label (on Macintosh) or drive letter (on Windows) matches that which had been in use for the primary drive.

With Time Machine you would generally need to go through a restore process in order to recover the files that had been lost. This would require additional time, in part because you would need to copy photos from the Time Machine drive to a replacement drive for the original that failed.

I still consider Time Machine to be an excellent backup solution, just not as a primary backup solution for photos. With Time Machine, for example, you can go back and find earlier versions of files, which can be very helpful if you had accidentally deleted files or made unintended changes to files.

I use Time Machine as a backup of the internal hard drive on my computer. I then use GoodSync (http://timgrey.me/greybackup) to back up my photo and other data storage on external hard drives. I also use an online backup (https://timgrey.me/onlinebackup) to provide an additional layer of offsite backup storage for my photos and other important files.