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SilverKeeper - A freeware GUI backup tool Pick of the Week
Silverkeeper imageThe macosxhints Rating:
8 of 10
[Score: 8 out of 10]
There are many backup options for OS X -- everything from Retrospect to CCC to the command line, and probably seven other apps I've not listed. I won't claim to have tried them all. I own a couple of them, and have used a number of others. This week's Pick is yet another option in the category, and I picked it because (a) it's free, (b) it's relatively easy to use, (c) it seems to do the job quite well, and (d) (very cool!) it will wake your Mac to run your specified backups.

I was looking for a quick and simple way to back up key directories on my machine to my backup hard drive, and I wanted to be able to keep multiple aged copies of some of those directories. Although I could've used one of the solutions I already own, or rolled my own via cron and the command line, I like to try new stuff, so off I went in search of alternatives. I'm not sure where I found it, but I stumbled on LaCie's SilverKeeper after some Googling. The SilverKeeper interface is quite clean, with a left-side pop-up for the backup set name and source, right-side pop-up for the backup type and destination, and a window below with four tabs for Status, Schedule, Options, and Exclusions.

You use SilverKeeper by creating a new set and giving it a name ('robg_home'), then pointing to the source folder. On the other side of the screen, you choose the type of backup -- I'm simply using "Backup Set," which is a standard backup, but you can also synchronize or compare the source and destination. In the tabbed window below, the Status tab starts blank, but will show log information after a backup run. The Schedule tab lets you set the schedule for the chosen set. This part of the interface is a bit unwieldy, as it uses a pop-up for Daily and each day of the week. The default is Daily; if you want a backup only on a particular day, you first click the pop-up and uncheck Daily. Then you have to click the pop-up again, and click (or unclick) each day you do (or do not) want seen. So if you want only a Thursday backup, you click the pop-up something like eight times. This would be much better handled by a checkbox arrangement, but you really only have to worry about it once for each backup set. There's also a lock icon here which you can use to prevent the machine from waking from sleep to run its backups, as well as a "Backup on startup" checkbox.

On the Options tab, you can create multiple backup copies -- I have checked "Copy set to folder" with three copies for my Home folder; this basically gives me three complete daily "look back" backups to pick from, if I ever need them (also remember to check Never Remove Files if you use this option). Finally, the Exclusions tab lets you specify portions of the source that you don't want backed up. On my Home folder backup, for instance, I have excluded the Library -> Caches and Library -> Icons folders.

Although SilverKeeper runs from the Finder, it copies invisible files (all the dot files in my home directory are backed up daily), and handles ownership and permissions as well (I backup my Webserver folder, and all the root/admin permissions are kept exactly as they should be). Each backup set can have separate schedules, which lets you easily customize your backup routine -- I back up my web server and home folders daily, my less-often-used data storage drives every other day, and my major applications and video editing drives on a weekly basis. Since the machine will wake itself up to run the backups, I have them all set to run at 2:00am, when my machine is (usally!) not doing anything other than sleeping.

SilverKeeper isn't perfect, but given that it's free, it does an amazingly good job at what it does. It's not for everyone -- if you need to backup to tape, for instance, you'll need a more full-blown backup program. But iif you have a need for hard drive copy of your key data files, it's probably worth a look-see.
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SilverKeeper - A freeware GUI backup tool | 25 comments | Create New Account
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Incremental backup is really not ...
Authored by: alexmathew on Apr 21, '04 12:32:23PM

Incremental Backup is really not that with SilverKeeper. It makes full copies - which means a 2 GB backup will bloat to 6GB if 3 copies are backed up. Incremental should mean "only those that have changed since last backup". SK's current method of incremental just wastes disk space.

Otherwise, SK has a clean and intuitive interface.

Synk does Incremental backups well - by keeping only copies of files/folders that have changed separate from the full backup.

However, Synk has problems with Exclusions, it only accepts text for exclusions - so if I dont want to backup Images folder, and I use "images" as a text match for exclusion, it does not backup any other folder or file using images in the name.

Synk development also has stopped. So I hope SilverKeeper gets Incremental backups right and then I can switch over.



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Incremental backup is really not ...
Authored by: silverkeeper on Apr 21, '04 02:11:45PM

Here is what SilverKeeper tries to accomplish with subsequent backups whether using the folder option of not:

- as each file/folder is processed, we look to see if the file/folder already exists on the destination; if so, it is not copied, as it is already there; we look at modification date and file size

When Folder Option is set, previous backups are renamed to another folder, and the current folder contains a complete mirror. Again copy time is minimized by:
- files no longer present in the source are moved to renamed folder
- unchanged files remain
- new files are copied

So that destination folder always has a mirror of the source.

So...why are files sometimes always copied? If modification dates or size changes, we copy it.

Thanks for the "Pick of the Week"

Comments/questions are always welcome to silverkeeper@lacie.com


---
SilverKeeper



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Incremental backup is really not ...
Authored by: alexmathew on Apr 21, '04 03:57:15PM

Silverkeeper,
Thanks for the clarification - though perhaps I am not yet completely clear on the files moved to Backup 01, Backup 02.

So lets say I want to backup Doc folder with two "copies"
The first backup - Doc is backed up completely to Doc (Is Doc 01 and Doc 02 created now?)
the second backup - Complete mirror to Doc, only changed files to Doc 01?
the third backup - Complete mirror to Doc, Doc 01 to Doc 02 and only changed files to Doc 01.
Is this how it works? If so, then you do have true incremental backups.

Thanks
AM



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Incremental backup is right with SilverKeeper!
Authored by: alexmathew on Apr 22, '04 06:01:40PM

After a few e-mail exchanges with SilverKeeper author, I find that Incremental Backup IS done right. I have immediately dumped Synk for SK!!
Great App and Great Support!
Thanks
AM



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Incremental backup is really not ...
Authored by: sizzla on Apr 21, '04 03:58:37PM

Can SilverKeeper backup to non Mac (i.e. FAT,NTFS) partitions over SAMBA?



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Incremental backup is really not ...
Authored by: rhowell on Apr 21, '04 04:21:07PM

It can back up to any volume that mounts to the desktop or can be found in the Network Finder window.



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Incremental backup is really not ...
Authored by: leenoble_uk on Apr 22, '04 11:13:35AM

This may have been fixed by the OS recently but when I used to use SilverKeeper backing up to an NTFS volume over the network it would always hang when it found a file with [square brackets] in the name or s/ashes and I think que?tion marks too.

---
So, I said ... well, I can't actually remember exactly what I said. But it was one of the most enormously cruel and frighteningly witty put downs ever.



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Incremental backup is really not ...
Authored by: silverkeeper on Apr 22, '04 07:17:57PM

There are many limitations when backing up to shared volumes. Mainly due to problems dealing with:
- different character sets supported
- Mac OS files with resource and data forks
- OS X writes two files for every one file on the Mac, so potential for many hidden files that are important

If you are backing up data files only with no resource forks, and the filenames are simple, then yes it works.

There is no real easy way to do this right.



---
SilverKeeper



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Incremental backup is really not ...
Authored by: fprefect on Apr 25, '04 12:19:14AM

A frequent solution to storing HFS+ metadata on non-HFS volumes is to create a sparse .dmg on that volume, then mount it from the Finder.



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Incremental backup is really not ...
Authored by: connell on Apr 21, '04 09:13:38PM

Synk development has not stopped.

http://www.decimus.net/synk/



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Terminology: Full, Incremental, Differential
Authored by: paco on Apr 25, '04 03:39:05PM

From the sound of it, they use the term "incremental" correctly. What you want is a "differential" backup. It may be the case that SK doesn't do differential. What they're doing and what they call it, however, follow industry-standard conventions.



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SilverKeeper - A freeware GUI backup tool
Authored by: raider on Apr 21, '04 05:38:54PM

I have purchased LaCie FireWire drives (I currently have two) and I use SilverKeeper. I really like it, and the drives have been top notch.

The support from them during the whole FireWire firmware/ OSX issues was great! I highly recommend LaCie products.

We have a friend who has a 40GB iPod and Windows boxes at two offices, and Macs at a third office and home. He needs to keep all of his documents and such syncronized.

He uses SilverKeeper on the Macs for this purpose, but what about the PC?

I know that it's off-topic - but does anyone know of an application like SilverKeeper for the PC?

Thanks,
R/\|DER



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SilverKeeper - A freeware GUI backup tool
Authored by: thebimbo on Apr 22, '04 03:19:50AM

Check out http://www.yousoftware.com/products/synchronize.php
&
http://www.yousoftware.com/news/press/040106synchronize.php - BTW, this used to be called ExecutiveSync.

Of interest to you is the time and state sync and support for MacOSX and Windows NT/2K...

Rgds, thebimbo

---
=mak



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SilverKeeper - A freeware GUI backup tool
Authored by: raider on Apr 22, '04 11:42:04AM

Actually, it only supports Windows "Servers" as the location to backup *to*.

The solution we need is for a program like SilverKeeper that will run *on* Windows to copy files to an iPod, just like SilverKeeper does *on* OS X.

:)

But YouSoftware is in Portland... I wonder if they are hiring. :) I sure would love to *work* on a Mac....



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Synchronize Pro X
Authored by: Handycam on Apr 22, '04 08:19:46AM

I realize it's not free, but I use Synchronize Pro X. It has a similar GUI and far more options. I use it to quickly backup only changed files to our server.

Worth a look.



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Backup Options - freeware GUI backup tool
Authored by: matx666 on Apr 22, '04 11:38:57AM

At work I use Bombich's excellent Carbon Copy Cloner and NetRestore.... http://www.bombich.com. A real good combo for making clones, syncing to a clone, and restoring a complete image, but what else is there?

Backup options worth considering:

1. PsyncX: To local volume, easy GUI

http://sourceforge.net/projects/psyncx

2. RsyncX: More complicated, but backups anywhere, even over a network, with new GUI tools for making cron jobs and more.

http://www.macosxlabs.org/rsyncx/rsyncx.html



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Backup Options - freeware GUI backup tool
Authored by: Phorne on Apr 23, '04 04:18:13PM

I have not had success with SilverKeeper and scheduled backups.

Manual sync seems to work fine.



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Backup Options - freeware GUI backup tool
Authored by: LouieNet on Apr 25, '04 01:23:20AM

Make sure you have version 1.1. From the release notes:

Scheduling now available under OS X (V10.2 or newer). Backups may be set for a specific day and time. Additionally, can also set backup to occur at next startup. You cannot schedule backup to occur at shutdown, as OS X has specific limits as to what can be done at shutdown time.

---
G4 cube, 1152M RAM, OS X Server 10.2.8
17" Powerbook G4, 1G RAM, OS X 10.2.8



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SilverKeeper - A freeware GUI backup tool
Authored by: rpitcairn on Apr 24, '04 12:23:10AM

I used SilverKeeper for several months after purchasing a LaCie 40 gig portable firewire drive. I had a continuing problem that if I backed up my Aps it would always freeze at the end and I would have to force quit. Talked to them about it and no solution.
I changed to Switchback for OSX and no problems. Does incremental backups. Does cost but not much.



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SilverKeeper - A great way to crash your system
Authored by: garroth on May 23, '04 04:24:32AM

I know this isn't exactly what SilverKeeper is intended for, but from it's description and help pages it should work fine. I'm trying to unify two 10.2 installs, from my iMac, and iBook. I used Carbon Copy Cloner to clone from one to a firewire hard-drive, then use silver keeper to add the apps and all items from my home directory to the cloned Applications and Home on my firewire drive, checking the never delete target option, which should add those from the source without removing those from the target. All it ever does is crash my system though. Grey screen, Power symbol, and message saying you must hard reboot in about three languages. Not good. I know several other people who use commercial apps to do exactly this, backup changes to several systems to one identical backup, so all machines have identical installs if restored from backup. If Silverkeeper would accomplish this, I'd gladly pay, but for all the trouble it's caused me, free is too much



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I get error: -1712
Authored by: edbolson on May 23, '04 11:44:37PM

I suppose I'm doing something wrong, but I get this consistently.
When I attempt what appears to be a simple backup from one folder to another disk, I get:
Last Backup: Sun, May 23, 2004 8:43 PM

Items Copied: 0 of 1 Data Copied: 0 KB of 212 KB

Available: 4.255 GB
System Err (-1712): Backup incomplete!

Sorry, process unexpectedly quit.

In console:
2004-05-23 20:38:36.735 Fish[18259] init FishManager.m
2004-05-23 20:38:36.944 Fish[18259] NSOpenGLView pixelFormat RendererID = 00021600
2004-05-23 20:38:36.945 Fish[18259] init Aquari.m
2004-05-23 20:38:37.235 Fish[18259] startAnimation
2004-05-23 20:38:37.470 Fish[18259] Reading Default File
2004-05-23 20:38:37.471 Fish[18259] readFile Error!
2004-05-23 20:38:37.472 Fish[18259] AwakeFromNib FishSharing
TEXT LOAD ERROR shadow



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I get error: -1712
Authored by: edbolson on May 26, '04 03:22:56AM

Whoops, copied the wrong console output.
Try again:
Last Backup: Sun, May 23, 2004 8:43 PM

Items Copied: 0 of 1 Data Copied: 0 KB of 212 KB

Available: 4.255 GB
System Err (-1712): Backup incomplete!

Sorry, process unexpectedly quit.

In console:
May 26 00:21:04 localhost /Volumes/**********/Users/bolson/Library/Application Support/SilverKeeper/LaCie Backup Support.app/Contents/MacOS/LaCie Backup Support: LaunchApplication(/Volumes/*********/Users/bolson/Library/Application Support/SilverKeeper/LaCie Backup Support.app/Contents/Resources/CopyTool.app)



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I get error: -1712
Authored by: taylorprewitt on Jun 02, '05 03:05:58PM

I got the same message when trying to back up files. Did you find an answer?--Taylor Prewitt



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SilverKeeper - A great way to drain your battery!
Authored by: greenbike on Dec 04, '04 12:46:52PM
I've been looking for a backup utility that will wake my computer from sleep. I downloaded silverkeeper last night to try it out. I created a backup > tested it > scheduled for 2 AM. Got up this morning and backup successfully ran. Checked /var/log/system.log to see how it woke my computer. Saw multiple entries like the following:

Dec 4 03:17:02 Computer kernel: System Sleep
Dec 4 03:17:04 Computer kernel: System Wake

So, it looks like silverkeeper's trick to "wake" the computer is to never let it sleep! I would not recommend this utility for laptops. Other suggestions for backup utilities that really wake the computer.

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SilverKeeper - A great way to drain your battery!
Authored by: momerath on Feb 04, '05 07:30:08PM

Those two lines don't mean that your computer actually went to sleep and woke up at those times.



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