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Get Backup vs. Time Machine: Why Apple Time Machine May Not Be Enough

Mac OS X users might be wondering why they need a backup utility in addition to Time Machine, the backup solution that Apple introduced in Mac OS X version 10.5. While Time Machine does prove to be a user-friendly, useful utility, power users may find that it lacks some features such as bootable backups, compression, flexibility when it comes to scheduling, and more.

Bootable Backups

After the dreaded hard drive crash, wouldn't it be great if you could get back to work right away and avoid the restore process by having an exact clone of your hard disk that you could just pop right in your Mac? You will be glad to hear that Get Backup offers disk cloning that does just that. Just physically install the clone in your computer or use Get Backup to copy the data on the clone to the replacement disk. Could it get any simpler?

The backups created in Time Machine are not bootable and will require you to either reinstall your system and then copy your files over, or install using Time Machine's backup. What does that mean? With a bootable backup, all you have to do is install your clone disk, whereas copying over files means you'll first need to install a clean hard disk and then spend a couple of hours transferring your files over.

Protect Your Archives

If you're a businessman or the person in charge of keeping up with your family's finances, your data is most likely confidential. Get Backup (Pro only) presents you with reliable archive encryption to keep your information out of unfamiliar hands. This keeps you protected even if your external hard drive, DVDs, or CDs are stolen. With encrypted archives you can also upload your backup to online servers with confidence that no one on the other end will be checking out your info. Get Backup offers four different encryption standards — AES-128, AES-256, Blowfish, or Triple DES.

Mac OS X 10.7 introduced disk encryption for Time Machine backups for the first time. However, users on Leopard or Snow Leopard do not have this option and will either have an unprotected backup or will need to search for third-party software that encrypts the hard drive. While this is a feasible solution, it does add another step to the backup process.

Compress Your Backups

Whether you back up to an external hard drive, CDs or DVDs, online servers, or another computer, you pay for each gigabyte that you use. Because of this, an effective backup plan can get expensive if your hard drive contains a lot of information or if you back up more than one computer. Get Backup offers you the option of compressing your backups. This lossless compression reduces file size by 10 to 60% and allows you to get more for your money without compromising your files.

Time Machine does not offer you the opportunity to compress data. As a result, backups created in Time Machine take up the same amount of space as the original files. A person backing up a 250GB hard drive will find Time Machine constantly erasing older backups without warning in order to write newer files. The way around this problem is to constantly buy new external hard drives.

Choose Which Files to Back Up

Backing up unnecessary files may take up a good deal of time and money when it comes to your backup plan. It adds to the total amount of data to be backed up and uses disk space. Get Backup lets you select which files you wish to back up to ensure that your archive contains only the most essential data. The selection process is simple thanks to templates for Apple iTunes, iPhoto, Mail, Address Book, and your documents folder. You can automatically exclude unnecessary files by type or name. This may include applications that you have on disc or movies that aren't so crucial but use a lot of storage space.

Time Machine does not include the option to automatically exclude all files of a certain type or name. It essentially backs up your entire hard drive and excludes only those folders and files that you have found and added to the exclusion list. Though this does essentially solve the problem, finding individual files and folders throughout your hard drive can be quite time consuming.

Set Your Own Backup Schedule

Building an effective backup plan includes backing up your data at the right time. Typically, the right time is at the end of the work day. This is because files should be backed up after editing. Another reason is that backup solutions can slow you down during the work day by loading down your processor. Get Backup solves this problem by offering you customizable scheduling that can be set down to the minute. With Get Backup, you have the option of backing up daily, weekly, or monthly. You can also back up manually whenever you wish. This comes in handy if you want to back up an important file that you've just finished editing.

While it is possible to customize the schedule using third-party software, Time Machine backs up your hard drive every hour and does not offer you the possibility to change the timetable to better fit your needs.

Choose Your Backup Destination

Selecting a backup storage device is a very important part of a backup plan, and the right choice always varies depending on the situation. Get Backup offers you quite a few backup destination options. Like Time Machine, it can back up to any locally mounted drive or device such as an external hard drive. If your company has a server and you have a lot of information to back up, Get Backup can automatically mount network devices and back up to them. You can also back up to CD or DVD without any additional burning software. Burning to optical discs allows you to easily store your backups off-site to protect yourself from theft of natural disaster, as CDs and DVDs are cheap, lightweight, and compact.

Time Machine basically only backs up to locally mounted drives, as the only network drive it can write to is Time Capsule. The major drawback to this is that backing up to a locally mounted drive requires the drive to constantly be together with the computer. Remember that if a thief steals a computer, he will probably take the drives with it too.

Read more about backing up to optical discs.

Split Your Archives Into Volumes

Backing up excessively large archives can be problematic if you store your backups on CDs or DVDs since there is a limited amount of space on them. Storing them online can also be troublesome if you have a slow internet connection. That's why Get Backup comes equipped with the ability to split archives into smaller pieces. This helps you write a large archive on several discs or upload it in segments to an online server.

Time Machine creates one big backup that must be broken up manually. And since Time Machine only backs up to locally mounted disks, writing to CD or DVD requires handling the information twice.

Restore Files Backed Up Years Ago

The second most common cause of data loss is human error. This includes the accidental deletion of files. Get Backup's option to back up to optical discs allows you to archive an unlimited amount of backups in case you need to find a project that you completed (and deleted!) years before.

The essence of Time Machine is to save your files so that if your computer crashes tomorrow, you'll be able to restore your system to the state it is in today, not yesterday or last year. That is why it begins to overwrite older archives as soon as your backup location is full. In addition, Time Machine notifies you of overwritten backups after they are gone.

Create Various Backup Projects

Some files may be of higher priority than others and therefore should be backed up more often, whereas less important files may need to be backed up only once or twice per month. Get Backup offers you the possibility to create multiple backup projects with different settings. This includes the backup schedule, encryption, backup destination, type of backup, and compression.

Time Machine copies your files to a new location without creating any kind of archive. This can cause your files to lose resource forks (icon, color labels, image preview, etc.) when transferred to another operating system.

Transfer Your Files Without Worrying

If you ever decide to switch to a new operating system or care to send your files to another computer via the Internet, you should know that sending them without special archiving can compromise the files. Get Backup creates archives in the tar format to avoid this. In addition to keeping your files from losing any data during transfer, such a format allows you to open your backups on any computer without the help of Get Backup.

Time Machine simply copies your files to a new location without creating any kind of archive. This can cause your files to lose resource forks (icon, color labels, image preview, etc.) when transferred to another operating system.

Synchronize Files on Two Computers

Keeping files stored on both your home and work computers up-to-date can be a challenging task without the help of synchronization tools. Get Backup works as more than just a backup utility. It offers you a powerful synchronization tool that allows you to synchronize both uni-directionally (both versions) and bi-directionally (Pro only). This is an additional function that Time Machine does not possess.

What Does It All Mean?

Time Machine offers your average user a simple and easy-to-use backup solution that can help you in the event of a computer crash. However, many users will find that their backup plan is meant for protection from data loss, archiving, and perhaps even sync purposes.

Get Backup has combined both a user friendly interface and powerful backup tools to create an application that is both intuitive and fit for professionals who in addition to a basic backup need password protection, a flexible backup plan, and long-term archiving.

Download the freeware version of Get Backup today to find out whether Get Backup is the right backup program for you. If you are considering upgrading to the Pro Version, check out the comparison chart.

Read more about data backup and storage.

Ray East III
Published: July 2009
Last reviewed: August 2011