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If the data is important to you, make a couple of backups and keep at least one set off-site. The importance of said data dictates the number of copies you should make and how often you back up / rotate said copies. See the 3-2-1 guide at Backblaze for background, if interested.
  • For many people, automated backups to off-site backup storage (Carbonite, Backblaze, et al) are a great option to ensure the data is actually backed up regularly.
  • However, I'd still make local backups, as the transfer time to get off-site data back can take a while.... the local backup covers the usual suspects (drive failure); the off-site backup covers the catastrophic (house fire, theft, etc.).
Despite [criticism and issues], Time Machine has simplified and automated backups for millions of Mac users. Getting users to back up in the first place was not particularly sexy but a really good habit to establish. Too bad that iCloud Drive prices itself out of the market - $120/year for up to 2TB vs. $60 / year at Backblaze for unlimited data. (I'm not affiliated with Backblaze, FWIW).

While some folks seem to think that SSDs / AFPS will lead to life without bad blocks, etc. I'm still a firm believer in spinning media for bulk data, especially for long-term storage. I use a ZFS-based alternative to APFS, HFS+, etc. called FreeNAS for local server storage because:
  • Bit rot is detected, and may be fixed automatically or you'll get an alert to find a backup and replace it that way (not part of macOS either in HFS+ or APFS).
  • excellent performance even on low-power server boards
  • inexpensive hardware (server chassis pop up on eBay all the time for ludicrously little money and will last decades).
  • You can set up off-site backups, FreeNAS-FreeNAS backups, or even backups to local storage devices that you manually rotate. It's a very flexible system.
  • no data loss despite multiple disks and motherboards failing over the years
  • great support for SMB as well as AFP protocols
However, it's not all fluffy unicorns and rainbows:
  • There is a steep learning curve, setting up FreeNAS. Thankfully, FreeNAS has an amazing community that has been extremely helpful.
  • some implementation delays (i.e. FreeNAS only recently began official support for Time Machine via SMB, because Apple documents just about zilch for the developer community, just like with APFS)
  • Motherboards should be server-grade (i.e. Supermicro, etc.), use ECC RAM, be fed with quality power supplies, etc. This can get expensive if you want the latest and greatest.
The FreeNAS forums have extensive guides re: inexpensive hardware builds to get into the game, or you can buy a pre-built system from iXsystems, like the Mini or the Mini XL.
 


Code42 just "resent" a notification (which was never previously sent) saying that, with no prior warning, sometime this month they changed CrashPlan from unlimited backup to "we're only backing up limited documents", just like the other backup services...
I will have to look into why I never saw this notification or the resent one. My heart skipped a few beats when you said they changed from unlimited. Got screwed on that with Mozy some years ago.

Personally, not affected by anything other than possibly the disk image files. I wonder if they are deleting the backups of image files previously uploaded....
 


My heart skipped a few beats when you said they changed from unlimited.
... now they're like the other services that may advertise unlimited storage but then put forced restrictions in the fine print to limit the backup. They are eliminating what's left of CrashPlan's market differentiator.

The lesson is that the only backup service you can count on is one where you pay directly for your own storage, such as Arq backing up to Backblaze B2, Wasabi, Amazon AWS, or another cloud storage provider.

And, there's a bonus. If you're paying for your own storage, you're not limited to using that storage for Arq. There are recent comments about Dropbox's new 3-device limit for the free tier. To lift that limit you'd need to at least pay $8.25/month for the 1TB tier or $16.58 for 2 TB. But Wasabi also has sync clients, so you can use as much of the Wasabi storage as you want for synching, at $6 per TB*. (I haven't tested the sync client yet.)

* I'm waiting for someone to ask why I said Wasabi is being disingenuous with their advertised storage fee.
 


Local snapshots is a scenario where APFS shines. APFS's "clone" feature allows the file system to maintain multiple versions of the file by sharing their common blocks and storing their differences. This allows the system to store these snapshots in a space-efficient manner. (This isn't quite like ZFS's de-duplication, which actively seeks out duplicate blocks to eliminate them. It only kicks in when you make copies of a file – which is what incremental backups require.)

This illustration may help explain:

Of course, that doesn't help with true off-machine backups. Retrospect used to be the bee’s knees for storing and retrieving versions. Probably still good… anyone in the MacInTouch community a current Retrospect user?
I still use Retrospect. I like it as the second leg of my recovery strategy:

1) Time Machine
2) Retrospect backup of critical files
3) Volume duplication (formerly SuperDuper, [now] Carbon Copy Cloner)

Recent versions of Retrospect are much faster, and do support backing up only changed blocks for large (configurable size) files. I back up to 24GB disk images, then burn them to Blu-Ray disks (except Toast has stopped successfully burning Blu-Ray disks for me).
 



... now they're like the other services that may advertise unlimited storage but then put forced restrictions in the fine print to limit the backup. They are eliminating what's left of CrashPlan's market differentiator.
The lesson is that the only backup service you can count on is one where you pay directly for your own storage, such as Arq backing up to Backblaze B2, Wasabi, Amazon AWS, or another cloud storage provider.
And, there's a bonus. If you're paying for your own storage, you're not limited to using that storage for Arq. There are recent comments about Dropbox's new 3-device limit for the free tier. To lift that limit you'd need to at least pay $8.25/month for the 1TB tier or $16.58 for 2 TB. But Wasabi also has sync clients, so you can use as much of the Wasabi storage as you want for synching, at $6 per TB*. (I haven't tested the sync client yet.)
Unlimited ≠ unlimited

Code42's CrashPlan for Small Business Overview, dated May 10, 2019, says:
Truly unlimited
CrashPlan for Small Business does not limit the size of your backup and there are no overage charges, so you can protect all the files on your devices. Furthermore, with a subscription to the Code42 cloud, we don't care if you're backing up 5 GB or 5 TB, and we don't place limits on individual file sizes. Plus, we'll never charge you extra to restore your files.
So it looks like we are still getting unlimited storage, just not unlimited filetypes.
 


I updated my 2011 Mac Mini over the weekend with a new 1TB SSD. To my surprise, I got hit by Dropbox's new 3-device limit for basic accounts. Apparently, any changes to the drive, OS, or even their app will negate the previous device link.
I missed the three-device-limit news.

My primary use of Dropbox is to share my 1Password vault with my wife. Between us we have 8 devices using the same Dropbox login.

When the time comes, I'll have to move the Vault to the 1Password subscription model at either $3 or $5/month, depending on whether I can log into 1Password as me on my wife's devices) - either way, cheaper than the cheapest Dropbox plan.

I don't need a TB of Dropbox space; the free 5 GB is more than enough. I would be happy to pay $1/month. After all, iCloud costs $1/month for 50 GB. I think Dropbox is [making a mistake].
 



As a license holder of both [SuperDuper and Carbon Copy Cloner], I'm curious: what prompted your switch?
I also keep both up to date, but Carbon Copy Cloner clones the recovery partition and SuperDuper doesn’t. FWIW, I had the impression that Carbon Copy Cloner may be faster.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I also keep both up to date, but Carbon Copy Cloner clones the recovery partition and SuperDuper doesn’t.
Carbon Copy Cloner also offers a Time Machine-like Safety Net feature. The two apps use different Unix utilities under the covers: rsync for Carbon Copy Cloner and something else for SuperDuper (cp ?).

A critical difference for me has been Carbon Copy Cloner proceeding past disk errors to complete a backup of the other files, while SuperDuper would stop the backup on encountering an error and not copy the other files.

Carbon Copy Cloner also lets you select/exclude folders and files to back up, and it offers integrity checking.

SuperDuper offers a "sandbox" feature:
SuperDuper users guide said:
A Sandbox is a bootable copy of your system, stored on another hard drive or partition, that shares your personal documents and data with the original. In the past, you might have stored this copy away in a drawer as a backup. With SuperDuper, you actually use the Sandbox as your startup volume.
Their user interfaces are quite different, and a good friend of mine once accidentally deleted his original files with SuperDuper when he confused source and target devices (Carbon Copy Cloner is clearer about that).
 


I missed the three-device-limit news. My primary use of Dropbox is to share my 1Password vault with my wife. Between us we have 8 devices using the same Dropbox login.
One alternative is to share an iCloud account and have 1Password use iCloud synching.

Another may be to sync most clients with Dropbox, iCloud or the folder option, and then sync one or more of the mobile devices to one of the desktops using the WLAN server.
 


I missed the three-device-limit news. My primary use of Dropbox is to share my 1Password vault with my wife. Between us we have 8 devices using the same Dropbox login.
When the time comes, I'll have to move the Vault to the 1Password subscription model at either $3 or $5/month, depending on whether I can log into 1Password as me on my wife's devices) - either way, cheaper than the cheapest Dropbox plan.
I don't need a TB of Dropbox space; the free 5 GB is more than enough. I would be happy to pay $1/month. After all, iCloud costs $1/month for 50 GB. I think Dropbox is [making a mistake].
If you have the 5GB free iCloud account, why not use that? I would think Apple's iCloud is more durable long-term (whereas Dropbox could get bought up... think Adobe or other interested party).
 


Of course, that doesn't help with true off-machine backups. Retrospect used to be the bee’s knees for storing and retrieving versions. Probably still good… anyone in the MacInTouch community a current Retrospect user?
I came back to Retrospect about 2 years ago as a primary tool for backup. I pretty much skipped versions 8-13, as they left much to be desired.

I've found that versions 15 and up are a good solid product.

I use it for server backup of Macs, Windows (7 & Server) and have installed their Linux client successfully on a number of different Synology NAS units.

I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have to the best of my ability.
 


I also keep both up to date, but Carbon Copy Cloner clones the recovery partition and SuperDuper doesn’t. FWIW, I had the impression that Carbon Copy Cloner may be faster.
I keep both up to date, as well. FWIW, I've proven, through testing many times, to myself that Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) is definitely faster backing up by a magnitude of two or three times. As always, your milage may vary, but my personal test results have been consistent over many months, under varied hardware configurations.

Another advantage of CCC is its ability to perform scheduled backups without launching the main application window during the process as SuperDuper does. It simply, discreetly, performs the backup(s) at the scheduled time "behind the scenes". This is a very helpful feature to me, as I share my Mac Pro with another less tech-savvy user who becomes concerned when an app window opens automatically while he's doing other computer work.

CCC also doesn't require the user who set up the backup schedules to be logged into their user space at the scheduled backup time as SuperDuper does. CCC uses a Privileged Helper Tool, com.bombich.ccchelper, to perform the actual backups. In Mojave, at least, the tool is located in the root Library folder (in the appropriately named "PrivilegedHelperTools" folder), so it's active for all users whenever the computer is booted.

I personally think both applications are excellent backup tools, which is why I hold licenses for both. But for the reasons above, I've come to prefer CCC over SuperDuper for my needs.
 



I missed the three-device-limit news. My primary use of Dropbox is to share my 1Password vault with my wife. Between us we have 8 devices using the same Dropbox login. When the time comes, I'll have to move the Vault to the 1Password subscription model at either $3 or $5/month, depending on whether I can log into 1Password as me on my wife's devices) - either way, cheaper than the cheapest Dropbox plan. I don't need a TB of Dropbox space; the free 5 GB is more than enough. I would be happy to pay $1/month. After all, iCloud costs $1/month for 50 GB. I think Dropbox is [making a mistake].
I had an email on April 12th from Dropbox that said "You’ve exceeded the linked device limit for your current Dropbox Basic plan", but when I searched on their site at the time, I couldn't find anything about a limit. So, thanks everyone, for posting about their Dropbox experience.

I also use Dropbox to share/sync password files between my three computers and my Android phone and tablet and to upload a few files from elsewhere to the website to use at home or on my phone. Time to make other arrangements, as I also don't need the premium plan.
 


I missed the three-device-limit news. My primary use of Dropbox is to share my 1Password vault with my wife. Between us we have 8 devices using the same Dropbox login. When the time comes, I'll have to move the Vault to the 1Password subscription model at either $3 or $5/month, depending on whether I can log into 1Password as me on my wife's devices) - either way, cheaper than the cheapest Dropbox plan. I don't need a TB of Dropbox space; the free 5 GB is more than enough. I would be happy to pay $1/month. After all, iCloud costs $1/month for 50 GB. I think Dropbox is [making a mistake].
1Password also supports iCloud syncing. Why not use that instead of Dropbox, unless you're subject to any of the following constraints?
  • iCloud is only available on Mac and iOS.
  • iCloud can only sync your Primary standalone vault.
  • iCloud requires 1Password 5 or later on all your Mac and iOS devices.
  • iCloud requires OS X 10.10 or later, and iOS 8 or later.
 


I've been a Dropbox user since their inception and have amassed the maximum free storage in return for helping them acquire new customers. So much for loyalty. I just created a Sync account. Buh-bye, Dropbox.
I mostly have used Dropbox for distribution of large files, so Sync sounds like what I need. I signed up to test how it works. I only have three devices hooked up to Dropbox now but plan to buy a new machine soon, so I want to be prepared.
 


Carbon Copy Cloner also offers a Time Machine-like Safety Net feature. The two apps use different Unix utilities under the covers: rsync for Carbon Copy Cloner and something else for SuperDuper (cp ?).
A critical difference for me has been Carbon Copy Cloner proceeding past disk errors to complete a backup of the other files, while SuperDuper would stop the backup on encountering an error and not copy the other files. Carbon Copy Cloner also lets you select/exclude folders and files to back up, and it offers integrity checking.

SuperDuper offers a "sandbox" feature.

Their user interfaces are quite different, and a good friend of mine once accidentally deleted his original files with SuperDuper when he confused source and target devices (Carbon Copy Cloner is clearer about that).
I think that Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper are critical programs, ensuring that when disaster strikes my iMac’s internal SSD, I have local clones of my data and apps. I update backups using both programs nightly. Why both? Since their operation is so important, by running both programs, a flaw in one hopefully won’t also be present in the other.

I think this behavior has roots in my experience with file systems back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. GE 430 and Sigma 7/9 OSs file systems had bad reputations for fouling file directories and files. (Besides, my iMac doesn’t have anything else to do overnight once Backblaze has finished its cloud updating.)
 


Multiple users have said:
I've hit the Dropbox free device limit so I'm switching to Sync.
Sync isn't the only option. iCloud Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Backblaze B2, CloudMe, and IDriveSync all have free storage tiers. There may be others.

And, there's the odrive client, which can unify your cloud storage.
 


Have you considered using iCloud instead?
Several have suggested this. There is no way to share iCloud files between two Apple ID accounts (except as described below).

If I created a new Apple ID and logged all our devices into it, then all the non-1Password files in our original accounts would essentially be orphaned. This is not to mention the hassle of
1) forwarding our respective emails into the new account and,​
2) each having all our respective emails in both our iCloud mailboxes.​

I don't want to wade through her emails, and she doesn't want to wade through mine.

I could put the 1Password vault file in a folder on a home server, but that means it would only be updated while at home.

I explored putting a file on iCloud Drive and then creating an alias (or symbolic link) to a folder on my Mac. Theoretically, I could share that link to my wife's Mac and put it in her iCloud Drive, and she could use that for her 1Password vault. However, aliases and symlinks don't seem to work on shared volumes.

There is a way to share files from iCloud Drive to another user that includes giving "make changes" permission.
MacRumors said:
I did that with an .rtf file shared to my wife. When she clicked on the notification email, it opened her iCloud.com login page and then added the file to her iCloud Drive. For unclear reasons, the file didn't appear on the iCloud Drive folder on her iMac (running El Capitan), though the rest of her iCloud Drive files are there. If I click on the file in iCloud.com, it downloads to her computer.

The .rtf file shows up in the Files app on her iPhone. If I open it in iOS Pages, it opens a copy for editing. This wouldn't work for the 1Password vault file, where you have to be able to read/write to the same file.

I think I'm back to the same solution. When I'm forced to, after buying new hardware, I'll just subscribe to 1Password.com.
 


Code42 just emailed a notice that:
  • The reason customers didn't receive Code42's April notice about CrashPlan changes was they only sent it to people who opted in to receive marketing communications.
  • They thought they could get away with putting .sparseimage on their hard exclusion list, because they believed the format was obsoleted by the .sparsebundle format. After customers, including me, complained that it was still in use, they changed their decision.
 


I missed the three-device-limit news. My primary use of Dropbox is to share my 1Password vault with my wife. Between us we have 8 devices using the same Dropbox login.
I had another thought about the 3-device limit:

If you have more than three devices but don't need a lot of storage, you can use a shared folder with multiple accounts. Just create as many new free accounts as you need, each with 2GB and up to 3 devices.
 


I had another thought about the 3-device limit:
If you have more than three devices but don't need a lot of storage, you can use a shared folder with multiple accounts. Just create as many new free accounts as you need, each with 2GB and up to 3 devices.
Interesting thought. I tried to find a free version (like the one most of us are using) to create a new account to test this out. However, I don't think they offer it anymore. The only account types I could find are the Standard (3TB/$12.50/mo.) and the Business (unlimited/$20/mo.). Unless they have it really well hidden, I think the only 5GB/free/3-device accounts are the ones that existed when they changed their pricing in March.
 


Interesting thought. I tried to find a free version (like the one most of us are using) to create a new account to test this out. However, I don't think they offer it anymore. The only account types I could find are the Standard (3TB/$12.50/mo.) and the Business (unlimited/$20/mo.). Unless they have it really well hidden, I think the only 5GB/free/3-device accounts are the ones that existed when they changed their pricing in March.
[See:]

Are you sure that free accounts were ever 5 GB? My plan history implies they have always started at 2 GB.
 




I keep both up to date, as well. FWIW, I've proven, through testing many times, to myself that Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) is definitely faster backing up by a magnitude of two or three times. As always, your milage may vary, but my personal test results have been consistent over many months, under varied hardware configurations....
Interesting. I've been using SuperDuper for years, and it's saved me on several occasions, but I have noticed it getting slow. Not sure why. An incremental backup of an internal drive is pretty slow now, even if only 2-3 GB of data is updated. (I assume the comparison process takes the most time, rather than the actual transfer.) However, I recall it being much faster. I don't generally schedule backups, so that's not a critical issue for me. However, I've heard lots of good about CCC and may try it, if only to improve backup speeds. I'm backing up from a 5400-rpm internal drive to a 7200-rpm external over USB 3 on my iMac (fairly recent vintage).
 


I keep both up to date, as well. FWIW, I've proven, through testing many times, to myself that Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) is definitely faster backing up by a magnitude of two or three times. As always, your milage may vary, but my personal test results have been consistent over many months, under varied hardware configurations.
That is so weird; my experience has been exactly the opposite. I have both, and SuperDuper is significantly faster for me. I've tried backing up the same disk to two different destinations with both applications, and the results are consistent. I must be using the wrong settings for CCC - any suggestions on what I could be doing wrong? Thanks.
 


That is so weird; my experience has been exactly the opposite. I have both, and SuperDuper is significantly faster for me. I've tried backing up the same disk to two different destinations with both applications, and the results are consistent. I must be using the wrong settings for CCC - any suggestions on what I could be doing wrong? Thanks.
Perhaps one factor would be my disks are all SSD. Also, all my external backup disks are Thunderbolt 2 drives, SoftRAID 5 configurations.

One advanced setting option in CCC (that isn't the default setting) is to "Find and replace corrupted files <every time / once a week / once a month>". If you've activated that setting, it will significantly slow down CCC copying, as it checks each and every file for comparison. If that advanced setting isn't selected, it will only check those files that have changed since the last copy (what SuperDuper calls "Smart Update").
 


Interesting. I've been using SuperDuper for years, and it's saved me on several occasions, but I have noticed it getting slow. Not sure why. An incremental backup of an internal drive is pretty slow now, even if only 2-3 GB of data is updated.
Have you considered the disk might be failing? Check the SMART status and maybe run DiskWarrior and check all files.
 


Have you considered the disk might be failing? Check the SMART status and maybe run DiskWarrior and check all files.
Well, not that slow, but there has been a gradual slowdown of about 10 minutes. Could be because there is more data on the drive, of course. I may try CCC on an extra external drive I have, but it has a slow drive inside, only 5400 rpm.
 


An additional reason to choose/prefer CCC is that, after a successful backup, when booting from that backup you are presented with a nice dialog from the app which indicates it has noticed you've started up from the backup drive and offers restore options.
What are those restore options? I have used SuperDuper for a long time, and to restore a corrupted startup disk (volume), I just wipe the bad disk (volume), copy the SuperDuper backup and continue working.
 


What are those restore options? I have used SuperDuper for a long time, and to restore a corrupted startup disk (volume), I just wipe the bad disk (volume), copy the SuperDuper backup and continue working.
CCC auto-launches upon booting from the backup drive. It also brings up an on-screen prompt to optionally guide you in setting up a restore task. I would think this would be a wonderfully reassuring interaction if I were a novice Mac or CCC user. Since SuperDuper does not offer this, users must know what to do all by themselves, which in my opinion is clearly less friendly.

Similarly, during an initial clone, SuperDuper does not alert the user that the Recovery Partition is missing and needs to be created (still a thing for those of us who have not consciously moved to APFS or been moved to APFS by the Apple OS steamroller). Same mindset — CCC is nice and helpful and instructive in prompting the user and in creating the Recovery Partition; SuperDuper is not.
 


Still, when I found a user was working on an external drive with no clone/backup, and that drive failed (notorious LaCie firmware/bridgeboard, combined with a Seagate drive), they lost it all. Always have some backup. Even if its a month old, you only lost a month. (I just ordered a 16TB hard drive. I just can't fathom losing that....)
And a gentle reminder that backups are not archives. No matter to which media or method you backup your content, there is a need to revisit these to test for viability. CDs, as an example, do not last forever.
The Verge said:
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
And a gentle reminder that backups are not archives. No matter to which media or method you backup your content, there is a need to revisit these to test for viability. CDs, as an example, do not last forever.
Speaking of archives and CDs...
Variety said:
Universal Fire Plot Thickens as New York Times Uncovers List of Affected Artists
Lawsuits have been filed asking the Universal Music Group to come up with a complete accounting of recordings lost in the 2008 fire on the studio lot that destroyed untold thousands of master recordings, and UMG is unlikely to comply with those requests soon, for any number of practical or legal reasons. But the New York Times may have just provided a lot of the affected artists — and their attorneys — with a head start.

In a follow-up to the Times’ original investigative piece of two weeks ago, journalist Jody Rosen has dug deeper and reported a list of more than 700 additional artists whose tapes were destroyed, culled from UMG’s own “Project Phoenix” effort to assess what was lost in the months and years following the devastating blaze.
 





... I'm still doing both Time Machine backups and Carbon Copy Cloner cloning.
Please continue to do both Time Machine backups and Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) cloning. These two backup types serve different purposes.
  • Time Machine backups provide easy restoration of files deleted or corrupted by local software or user errors. Time Machine backups are often used to migrate or restore user accounts, less often for full system restores. They are not generally used for off-site backups, thus not effective in local disaster scenarios.
  • Carbon Copy Cloner backups (bootable, that is) most often provide instant recovery from hardware or update failures, using either the current hardware or a substitute machine. Using CCC backups is quite effective for offsite backups, preferably using one or more media sets in rotation, and also for archiving complete system configurations. CCC backups also work well with Migration Assistant, removing the need for slow Thunderbolt 2/Thunderbolt 3 migration.
  • Another distinction between Time Machine and CCC backups is that Time Machine volumes are normally mounted 24/7/365, while CCC backup volumes are normally unmounted, disconnected ("air gapped", in security parlance) and isolated from many possible problems from system failure, power failure, human failure, and malware.
 


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