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SuperDuper - Backup made super simple Pick of the Week
SuperDuper imageThe macosxhints Rating:
9 of 10
[Score: 9 out of 10]
[Note: This is the Pick of the Week for the week of March 6th.]

Although I still use the free SilverKeeper for my routine data backup needs, I recently had the chance to use SuperDuper for the first time. I was writing up a few articles for Macworld about the Leap.A malware/trojan, and wanted the ability to easily bring my PowerBook's external FireWire drive back to "normal" mode. Enter SuperDuper, a very easy-to-use cloning and backup utility.

Dan Frakes covered SuperDuper in detail last year (though it's now up to version 2.1), if you'd like a lot more information on how it works. In a nutshell, you see a simple dialog box that asks what you want to copy, and where you want to copy it to. After you make your choices, it tells you in plain language exactly what's going to happen. SuperDuper works quite well in 'free' mode, but registering gets you access to scheduling, smart updates (which only replaces files that have changed), sandboxes, and scripting.

SuperDuper makes it very simple to create backups and/or clones of your key files and drives. And, regardless of which app you choose to use, investing in some sort of backup solution (hardware and software) is a very important thing to do!
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SuperDuper - Backup made super simple
Authored by: SOX on Mar 15, '06 08:32:10AM
Currently I have two favorite backup schema 1) rdiff-backup for remote backups. It's very stable and recovers gracefully when a transmission error borks the backup. It makes differential snapshots too so you can revert to any previous backup. These are backward not forward diffs so the most recent backup is preserved as a mirror copy on the disk easily accessed directly from the OS. It works across different Operating systems. For HFS to HFS backup you need to know two obscure command flags

--override-chars-to-quote '' and --nocarbonfile

Drawbacks are that you need it installed on both machines to work and the versions number must match. It has nice stats reporting and does not fail silently. As fast as rsync but much more reliable and has differential backups. It's in Fink

2) for local or mounted disk backups I use silver keep (or maybe super duper) to the initial copy. Then in the directory holding the backup file system I execute
find -d myBackup | cpio -dpl myBackup`date "+%y%m%d_%H:%M"`
this creates a "zero space" snapshot of the files.

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SuperDuper - Backup made super simple
Authored by: kbradnam on Mar 15, '06 09:39:24AM

The support that I've received from Dave Nanian (creator of SuperDuper!) has been phenomenal. He has been more than helpful with every issue that I've raised with him. It's the kind of software support which more than justifies the cost of the software (which is not exactly expensive anyway).

Another great feature of SuperDuper! is that it will detect new versions and (if you want it to) upgrade itself in place without you having to do anything.

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SuperDuper - Backup made super simple
Authored by: demmons65 on Mar 15, '06 10:23:31AM

I'll second the post on the level of support Dave Nanian has given for Super Duper. I bought it a couple years ago and use it for one purpose or another on a weekly basis.

d a v e

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SuperDuper - Backup made super simple
Authored by: rprather12 on Mar 15, '06 02:32:23PM

I also want to vote for Dave as the Support Person of the Year!

If all software had the support he and his forum provides life would be very easy!

The only time SD! has let me down is when I tried to use it in a way it wasn't intended and after going back to the manual I found a specific reference to the mistake I had made.


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SuperDuper - Backup made super simple
Authored by: da2357 on Mar 16, '06 03:32:04AM

How does SuperDuper rank/compare to Carbon Copy Cloner?

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SuperDuper - Backup made super simple
Authored by: wuf810 on Mar 16, '06 04:45:45AM

I will check out SuperDuper but for a another solution I am currently using Personal Backup X4 from Intego. Clone, Full and incremental Backup, scheduling. Works very well.

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SD! vs. CCC
Authored by: sjk on Mar 20, '06 12:35:42PM
How does SuperDuper rank/compare to Carbon Copy Cloner?
You can find some discussion of that in MacInTouch Reader Reports - Backup (Part 4). It's a bit over a year old, before SD! 2.0 was released, but much of it is still relevant.

I've posted a few comparisons in MacUpdate and VersionTracker comments in the past but don't have time to find exact references to them now.

I used (and paid for) Carbon Copy Cloner before discovering SuperDuper! a couple years ago. CCC can get the job done, but it's "geekier" than SD! and relies on the sometimes-finicky psync perl script for "smart" file syncing. Nowadays Mike Bombich puts more time and attention into NetRestore, which actually is intended to replace CCC. If/when things go wrong with CC you might end up facing a sometimes-feisty forum hoping to find support, possibly from people without the depth of experience and expertise to accurately and reliably analyze/resolve issues.

SD! is Shirt Pocket Software's flagship product, still actively developed and thoroughly tested. Its highly respected support is well deserved, as many comments from satisfied customers here and elsewhere will attest to.

My backups are important. With support for SuperDuper! being (and remaining) as reliable as the software itself it's clearly my choice (and recommendation) when compared with Carbon Copy Cloner.

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SuperDuper - Backup made super simple
Authored by: jeremyrh on Mar 18, '06 07:17:02AM

Another vote for Dave.

I had a problem with a backup and contacted Dave for help. Because of a mix-up with my e-mail (my fault) he was not able to contact me on that address, and Googled me to find an alternative address. Most people would have just said "tough luck". Dave helped me figure out why my files were not backing up properly (it was a problem on CCC as well - a corrupt file).

I felt that was easily worth the shareware fee!

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Outstanding product: Here's how I use it for backup
Authored by: CatOne on Mar 15, '06 03:29:44PM

I have 2 internal drives, and a couple external firewire drives.

3 times a week, I do a "smart backup" from my primary internal drive, to the secondary, using SuperDuper! This is really a "lazy mirror," with the advantage that it's a second, fully live, bootable copy, with everything very close to in sync. Also, if I want to test a new software update, I just install on the "backup" drive first, to see how things work out. Very easy. And of course if something doesn't work right booted from the "backup," then I boot from the primary, and my old changes roll back over the backup. Very handy, very reliable, very non-intrusive (it runs around 7 PM).

I have a second backup which uses ChronoSync to do "update backups" more like rsync to the firewire HD. This update is set to not delete files that are changed/deleted/overwritten, but to move them to an "archive" folder which I can cull when I need the space. This way, if I delete a file that I shouldn't have, and a month later realize this, I can get it back. I actually rotate a couple external firewire HDs in this manner so my monthly "let's clean this stuff up!" prune fests don't bite me too soon :-)

Dave's support is outstanding. Absolutely outstanding.

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SuperDuper - Backup made super simple
Authored by: Alemany on Mar 15, '06 04:52:39PM

OUTSTANDING software, I use it and rely on it all the time. And the support is excellent. ONe of the few I would recommend.

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SuperDuper - Backup made super simple
Authored by: barrysharp on Mar 15, '06 06:11:56PM

On my Power Mac G5 I've been using SuperDuper for some time now and will agree with everything mentioned here so far. I use it once per week on a Sunday at around 2am to clone my internal boot HD to and external FW800 drive. This is my main backup for recovering from fatal boot HD errors. The "smart update" goes super fast. I have SD sleep my computer after it completes. I like the fact that SD can be told to correct permissions before doing the "smart update".

I choose 2am for most backups as I have configured my computer to wakeup at 2am every day and go back to sleep after 1 hour of inactivity.

Each day at 2am I use my .Mac Backup 3 to backup my Home folder to two different FW400 drives. This is recycled once per month as BU3 performs an inital Base followed by Incrementals.

Each week at 2am on Sat I use BU3 to backup my Mail to iDisk and to a FW800 drive. My mail is important to me.

My Quicken is set up to always backup its data to iDisk when I quit. I do this for offsite protection and to recover it quickly if I mess up one day.

One per month I backup my complete iPhoto Library to DVD DLs - so far it takes just one DVD DL at around 8 GB.

Multiple backups of same data to different devices is prudent IMO. Having important data in an offsite location is also important IMO.

I use SD for my wife's iBook to clone its boot drive to an external pocket-sized 40 GB FW400 device each Sunday at 9pm. Wife always leaves the iBook lid open until around bedtime which on a Sunday is normally after 9pm. I chose 9pm as this gives me time to check that it ran (assuming I remember to check it). If lid is closed then automatic backups cannot be run. I use BU3 to backup her Mail every week to her .Mac iDisk and recycle this every 3 months.

Regards... Barry Sharp

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Love it, but have a spotlight problem.
Authored by: foamy on Mar 15, '06 06:22:13PM

I love superduper and use it weekly on my laptop, but what I haven't been able to figure out is how to keep spotlight from indexing the backup drive.

Since I made the backup, I have two of everything when I search in spotlight, even when the drive is unmounted. Also, the mdutil process sucks up CPU after each and every backup by indexing the content on the new backup.

Any ideas on how to turn indexing off for the external firewire?

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Love it, but have a spotlight problem.
Authored by: theocrates on Mar 15, '06 06:57:21PM

Simply add the external volume to the Privacy tab of the Spotlight preferences.

There was a specific discussion about this at Shirt Pocket's web site. Here's the link:

This was a common problem prior to SuperDuper! version 2.0. Prior to that version, Dave had written a "disable spotlight" executable to add to the end of the SD run; that executable is now no longer necessary.

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SuperDuper - Backup made super simple
Authored by: jonbauman on Mar 15, '06 07:34:06PM

Not to poo-poo the pick of the week, but I've been really happy with Carbon Copy Cloner. It's totally free, and very simple to set up. I have it set to nightly synchronize my internal drive to an external firewire disc, and ever morning it pops up the console log to tell me it worked. It's totally effortless backup.


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CCC is considered donation-ware
Authored by: sjk on Mar 20, '06 10:54:30AM
Claiming Carbon Copy Cloner isn't "totally free". Making Donations says:
CCC is considered donation-ware (uncrippled shareware). I worked hard developing CCC and its methodology and documenting it on the internet for the rest of the Mac OS X community. If you find CCC indispensable, please consider making a donation. Please note that if you are using CCC for an educational institution, you should NOT donate to Bombich Software. My heart is in Education and all software that I write shall always be free to Education.

Copyright 2002-2005 Mike Bombich
Site last modified 3/15/06
Plus, AFAIK, the source code isn't available, although the psync utility it utilizes for file synchronization is open source.

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SuperDuper - SuperSupport
Authored by: jeffx on Mar 15, '06 08:41:50PM

Been using SuperDuper for about a year now. Works so well I decided to actually pitch in and buy a license. Prior to reading the review here on Hints, I coincidently backed up this evening to SuperDuper and had a minor issue for the first time. The software generated a window so I could email the issue to Support. I got a helpful, personal reply from the developer himself within an hour. Top Notch! I replied to him that I would recommend the product next time I was in a forum, so here I am. Buy this software. Quite useful.

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SuperDuper - SuperSupport
Authored by: kms007 on Mar 18, '06 05:34:14PM

I concur. SuperDuper's tech support was excellent whenever I had a question about the app. Version 2.0 is superb - I've set it to automatically back-up my data every evening at 9:30PM. Much more versatile than CCC. (I've used both)


Cartoonist, "The PC Weenies"

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SuperDuper - Backup made super simple
Authored by: Han Solo on Mar 16, '06 06:47:27PM

Why only 9 of 10, Rob? I'd have to say that SuperDuper! warrants a 10 — unless you're docking a point for that silly exclamation point in the name.... ;)

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that silly exclamation point
Authored by: sjk on Mar 20, '06 11:29:20AM
Heh, good one. And for those who missed 'Wolf' Rentzsch's witty jab in Hole in the Umbrella: Backup 3:
Update: Dave Nanian of SuperDuper talks about temporal versioning. He sticks to his guns and makes good points. Hey Dave, let's make a deal. I'll concede most of your points, if you drop the exclamation mark from the product's name. Act now! Supplies are limited!

Copyright © 1997-2006 Jonathan 'Wolf' Rentzsch. All rights reserved
Dave's must be tired of being teased about that but it's hard to resist not occasionally doing it.

"Announcing SuperDuper 3.0. We've been working overtime to improve your favorite OS X backup utility, making it leaner and cleaner using clever optimizations such as dropping the infamously superfluous exclamation mark from its name."

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