Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Applications Folder: SuperDuper!

SuperDuper

Okay, chances are if you’ve been a Mac user for any length of time, you know about Shirt Pocket’s SuperDuper. And if you don’t, well, consider this a public service announcement: you need SuperDuper. You might think you don’t, but you do. Because, simply put, without a backup of your Mac, your data is all worthless. And trust me: having spent the last couple months bringing a Mac mini back from the dead, I know of what I speak.

Sure, Macs have come with Time Machine built in for many a year now, and that’s all well and good—it’s certainly better than nothing when it comes to backup. But Time Machine’s utility is limited, and there are cases where even it isn’t enough to get your data back. Plus, it has more than its fair share of unreliability, which is really the last thing you want in your backup software.

Whereas Time Machine operates on the level of files, tracking changes as you make them and updating the backup accordingly, SuperDuper is designed to clone your drive, bit-by-bit. That means that you end up with an exact copy which not only has all the same information but is also—and this is the clutch part—bootable on its own. Which means that when your computer goes down, as mine did a couple months back, all you have to do is restart from the clone to be back up and running and ready to start the restore process (which SuperDuper can also handle).

SuperDuper offers a variety of other features to improve your backup experience. Its Smart Update functionality speeds up backups, only copying files if they’ve changed. If you have somewhat more limited space on your backup drive, you can back up just your user files, rather than the whole Mac, or exclude certain files. You can back up to a disk image if you don’t have another disk handy. And, of course, you can schedule backups to happen at a certain time or only when you connect your backup disk.

SuperDuper was instrumental in getting my Mac mini back to life, as was its creator Dave Nanian. (Full disclosure: I’ve known Dave for a number of years, and consider him a good friend, but I used SuperDuper long before we’d ever met.) You can download SuperDuper for free and use it to backup your drives without restriction, but to unlock the more advanced features, it’ll cost you $27.95—a price well worth paying since all subsequent updates are free, and have been since before I bought the app back in 2006(!).

I’ve now got SuperDuper clones running for all three of the Macs in my household, which is in addition to Time Machine backups and Backblaze for offsite backups. In the era of cloud storage, it might seem like backup software is an added luxury, but frankly it’s protection and peace of mind that you can’t afford not to have.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at dan@sixcolors.com. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]


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