Automatic backups using Mac OS X’s built-in tools

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
February 11th, 2004 • 11:49 am

O’Reilly’s MacDevCenter has a good article about creating volume backups using Mac OS X’s built-in tools.

It requires a bit of Unix scripting, but nothing too hard to accomplish. I’ve just gone through the instructions and successfully completed a backup of my startup partition, including all applications, user and system files on an external hard drive.

The column does contain one significant error, which is mentioned in the comments appended to it: The vertical bar at the end of line 21 needs to be removed. The author doesn’t seem to know how it go there, but surely for a web-published article it shouldn’t be too much to ask that O’Reilly’s webmaster correct the error in the body of the article itself instead of requiring readers to read through the comments.

It’s not a perfect solution, because it cannot do incremental backups that only copy files that have changed. On the other hand, it can easily be customized to automatically create a new backup every day or every week with a different name. Of course, this supposes that you have quite a bit of hard drive space, or that you make sure that you erase older backups on a regular basis. But, as the author of the article says, backing up still involves a certain amount of human intervention or attention, if only to make sure that everything is OK.

An alternative to this free solution is another solution based on donation-ware Carbon Copy Cloner used in combination with the open source Unix utility psync. This is the solution I am going to be exploring next.

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