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Staxman 04-02-2004 11:10 PM

SuperDuper! as backup/restore program?
I've perused the SuperDuper manual and the forums a bit and seen some references to using it as a backup/restore program, but the emphasis in the manual seems to be pretty much on the Safety Clone. The Safety Clone sounds like a great idea--if I ever get a 2nd hard drive or work up the initiative to partition my internal hard drive.

I'm currently backing up my system with Dantz Retrospect and finding it OK but not great. I'm interested to know if SuperDuper could replace Retro for me. I use Retro as follows:

Over a period of a week to a month, I make 2 full backups--OS, apps, data, the whole 9 yards--to CD-R. The CD burner is my only backup device, and I trust CD-R more than I do CD-RW. At this writing it takes 7 CD's and then some. After 17 years with computers, I'm not taking a chance on having just 1 backup! Then I make weekly "progressive" backups (Retrospect-ese for incremental backups) to both backups. IOW, I back up files that have changed since the last backup. When the 2 stacks of CD's start getting too tall, I start the cycle over again with full backups.

Could SuperDuper fill this role? If so, I'll have some more specific questions.

dnanian 04-03-2004 09:24 AM

Hi, Staxman -- welcome to the forums.

SuperDuper is definitely not designed to back up to "removable media" (tapes, CDs), and also doesn't do "incremental backups" in the traditional sense: that is, you can't access the "older" files once you've replaced them with newer versions. (Smart Update will update the clone with anything that's changed, and remove things that are no longer there, but it doesn't keep an archive of the items replaced on the clone -- it just endeavors to make it identical to the source again, as quickly as possible.)

Most people, though, don't require multiple levels of archive retrieval -- mostly, they're trying to keep another version of their drive (and, therefore, their data) around, in case something unexpected happens.

Since SuperDuper is designed to create and update full or partial clones, it's ideal for this "full copy" style. Given the approach you've elected, though, I think you'd find SuperDuper wouldn't work.

However, if you decided that CD-based backups were becoming too much of a pain (or that you didn't really need all the past versions of your files), you could move to a HD-based system (and, these days, FW hard drives are quite reasonably priced) and significantly speed both the creation and updating of your backups. (Of course, you can store Retrospect backups sets on the HD too, if you want to maintain your "archive".)

If you're using the CDs are "adjunct storage" so that you can erase the files from the HD without fear of losing access to them, that's a different story, but one where'd I encourage a larger drive, internal or external, rather than CDs, to allow for more convenient and immediate access.

Personally, I wouldn't have the patience for CD backups, and would consider a faster medium -- whether tape or HD -- regardless of the backup software selected. But you've been doing this for a long time, so I wouldn't want to change a good habit -- backing up is an excellent one to get into!

Staxman 04-03-2004 11:54 AM

SuperDuper! as backup/restore program?
Yep, the CD backups are a PITA. I would have liked to get my Mac w/a SuperDrive, but money was a bit tight when I got it. I'm leaning towards (one of these days) getting a FireWire DVD burner.

I could see an external hard drive to fill some needs, but I wouldn't want it to be my only backup. My feeling is that if hard drives were bulletproof, we wouldn't back them up to tape/CD/DVD in the first place!

Thanks for your response.

dnanian 04-03-2004 12:55 PM

I understand your feeling about hard drives, and those that are in constant use definitely run into their MTBF zones. But, given the right hardware (perhaps a RAID setup with auto-failure detection), they can be quite reliable.

CDs, unfortunately, don't last terribly long either before they start to generate unacceptable and uncorrectable error rates. If you're really concerned about long-term access to the data, you should definitely consider using tape... not cheap, but fast and much more stable.

rcatrambone 06-02-2004 11:24 PM

I just purchased SuperDuper! but am concerned that I can't do with it what I want to do. I want to use SD! as a backup program in the following way:

After working at the office, I want to transfer my files (documents) from my office computer's hard drive to my external hard drive (a firewire device) in a "smart" way (i.e., have just the files that have been changed get copied to my external hard drive). All the files of interest are in a single folder on my computer's hard drive and on a single folder on the external hard drive. I want to carry the external drive home, hook it up to my home computer, and transfer the files to my home computer's hard drive, again in a "smart" way. The next morning, before I head to work, I want to transfer the files from my home computer's hard drive to my external hard drive, again, not surprisingly, in a "smart" way. And so on.

I am not interested (right now) in cloning or making bootable cds, etc. All I want to do is to be able to take files in-between work and home via my external hard drive and to keep things up-to-date in a "smart" way rather than having to copy all files each time.

I can't figure out how to make SD! do this; I can't get it to choose a particular folder or choose the computer's hard drive as the destination. I bought SD! based on the recommendation from an Apple discussion group although the responder to my question might have misunderstood my goals (or I explained them poorly....).

If SD! can do what I want, would you tell me how to do it? Thanks.

dnanian 06-03-2004 07:51 AM

Sorry it took me a little while to respond to this, rcatrambone: it hit the board a bit late last night, at least in my timezone.

Anyway, it sounds to me like you want to "sync" a specific folder, using Smart Update, between two computers.

At present, SuperDuper doesn't let you "restrict" a Smart Update operation to only affect a given folder on a drive. While this probably isn't a big deal when you copy *to* the external drive (since you can have it copy /Users/rcatrambobe/Documents), it matters a lot when you copy to the home computer.

Here's why: Smart Update is defined to accomplish the same thing as "Erase, then copy", except by performing as few copies and deletes as possible, rather than by actually erasing and re-copying the entire drive. Anything that wouldn't be on the drive after an Erase, then copy will be erased.

That means that restricting the clone to a given folder (or folder hierarchy) will cause all the other folders on the drive to be removed. Which probably isn't what you want.

So -- how can you accomplish what you're trying to do?

Well, there are two other "During copy" choices that might work for you: Copy Newer and Copy Different. Those do pretty much what they say -- copy newer (or different) files from the source to the destination. What they don't do is erase. So, you can take a given folder hierarchy and "merge" it, copying only changed files.

Two things, though: files deleted on one device won't get deleted from the other, and the folders (and userids) would have to be named the same, from the root on down, on both machines.

There are other options, of course, including editing directly on the external drive (and making that a bit more transparent with an alias/symlink)... but I don't know exactly what would be acceptable to you, so I don't want to suggest something without knowing a bit more about your workflow.

There are some changes planned that would allow you to use Smart Update in this kind of situation, but I don't know when those are going to actually be released... as you might expect, the list is pretty long, and time is short.

Hope that helps!

rcatrambone 06-03-2004 08:33 AM


Thank you very much for your quick response (I had read somewhere that you provide fast feedback!). I do not think the Copy Newer/Different options will work for exactly the reason you point out: they will not remove files/folders from the target that are no longer on the source. Over the course of a work day or work evening, I do delete and move files and folders as well as edit files, so it is important the the target's file structure be forced to match the source's file structure.

While I have already paid for SD!, I don't think I can wait until a Smart Update function has been implemented; that's a little too risky! I can poke around for other programs. If you have any advice, I'd be grateful to hear it. I imagine you are pretty knowledgeable about the competition... Frankly, the simpler the program (or at least the interface), the better. I really don't want to do more update-wise than what I described in my original post. Thanks.

dnanian 06-03-2004 08:41 AM

What I'd really recommend for this kind of thing, given what you're attempting to do, is .Mac and its auto-synchronizing iDisk.

Basically, for the $99 or so .Mac charges, you get 100MB or so of storage that's backed up for you. It appears as a volume on your drive, with the directory structure you're used to (Movies, Music, Documents and the like). When you make changes, those changes are *automatically* synchronized to any other computer you've got associated with the .Mac account.

So: any changes you make would be available on all your computers with no manual intervention at all. It's really a pretty ideal situation.

If that doesn't work for you, you could take a look at You Synchronize, Synchronize Pro or one of the other "synchronization-focused" solutions. I truly wish that I could endorse one or more of them for your situation, but I have no direct experience with any of them.

Another possibility is Dan Kogai's "psync". It's a command-line utility, but it will do a synchronization between two arbitrarily rooted directory hierarchies. "rsync", or "rsyncx" will also do the same kind of thing, and I believe there's a UI version of it.

Save for .Mac, which is very easy, most of these solutions are significantly more complex than SuperDuper!, but given your situation you may need something more complex to fit your needs (at least until SuperDuper! makes it easy).

Hope that helps.

norman harris 07-17-2004 12:58 AM

Back up Strategy
I have used SD to create a safety clone of my primary drive and I am currently booted from the safety clone. If I wish to have a back up on an external drive I should back up my primary drive. Corrrect? If I am compulsive about updating the primary drive with any new apps or updates, this should give me the most up to date copy. Correct? I have been doing this on a scheduled basis daily using Retrospect. Any fault with this logic?

dnanian 07-17-2004 08:25 AM

Hi, Norman!

Yes, there's nothing on the Sandbox volume that's really worth backing up -- that's why it's a Sandbox! So, when you want to back up, just back up the "original" (Macintosh HD in my manual examples). That's got all your user files on it, as well as the "safe" version of the OS and applications.

If you're updating the main drive with new apps and updates (after testing them on the Safety Clone, of course), then you should be good to go.

Scotti 05-27-2005 03:11 PM


Originally Posted by dnanian
SuperDuper... doesn't do "incremental backups" in the traditional sense: that is, you can't access the "older" files once you've replaced them with newer versions....

Most people, though, don't require multiple levels of archive retrieval -- mostly, they're trying to keep another version of their drive (and, therefore, their data) around, in case something unexpected happens.

Hi Dave. I was just wondering if you have any plans to either:

A) Add incremental backup to SuperDuper!, or
B) Write a backup utility offering incremental backup. :)

I love SuperDuper!'s speed, features, and interface, but I need a true backup program, too. I had an unfortunate experience with bad RAM, such that when I booted from the cloned drive I'd been using as my "backup," the clone was corrupted beyond repair and I'm still putting the system back together.

I've moved away from Retrospect and am trying Tri-Backup, and while it's serviceable the interface is cluttered and confusing. I'd love to see Shirt-Pocket's take on what a backup utility should be, notwithstanding your blog comments knocking SuperDuper!'s current interface (the new one looks great, by the way). Thanks for your thoughts.

dnanian 05-27-2005 03:32 PM


I don't have any plans to turn SuperDuper! into what you're calling a "true" backup program, at least in the near term. Adding that type of thing adds complexity without necessarily adding a lot of value for most users. (Not all, but most.)

I think the experience you had with bad ram would be as likely to corrupt any backup media, really. In general, the solution to this type of ultra-catasrophic situation is to have more than one clone, and rotate between them once a week or so. That protects you even more, and still provides you with a mechanism to do a quick, painless recovery -- something no backup program that provides "archived" backups can really do.

Another technique is to do both. Have a full rollback-style backup, and ALSO have a clone. Best of all worlds...

Scotti 05-27-2005 03:46 PM


Originally Posted by dnanian
Another technique is to do both. Have a full rollback-style backup, and ALSO have a clone. Best of all worlds...

I'm considering exactly what you suggest using both SuperDuper! and Tri-Backup. SuperDuper! I use enthusiastically, Tri-Backup sort of by default after much searching. It's a workable setup, but I love your philosophy and approach and thought I'd check before plunking down the cash for Tri-Backup.

Thanks for your prompt, courteous, and engaging reply (as usual). Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

dnanian 05-27-2005 03:48 PM

Thanks, Scott. Enjoy your weekend as well!

macfeller 05-28-2005 03:50 PM

For folder level syhronization ...
I can recommed Synk. It is very similar to SD! I used Synk until my daughter showed me SD!. SD! is way faster and handles various situations much more effortlessly. The one thing I still use Synk for is folder level backup. If you are associated in any way with education the developer gives a free license.

I wouldn't normally plug another app on a forum unless I really had a problem with that forum's app. But, Dave, being the all around good guy he is had already plugged other apps.

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