Best way to backup your Mac

This is a tested and foolproof plan for automatically backing up your hard drive, so you never have to worry about data loss again.

iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini
Automatically backing up iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini

Like most people, I’m lazy about backing up my data. If it’s remotely inconvenient, I won’t do it. Fortunately, there are now several things you can do to back up your data, all without having to lift a finger. Smart Wi-Fi 6 access points and cloud storage services have changed how easy it is to backup your hard drive.

Best disk storage device for Time Machine automated backups

When Apple released Time Machine, they introduced a dead-simple way to backup your Mac. Just plug in an external hard drive, and let it do the rest. While it’s a great solution, I still have to remember to get my hard drive out on a regular basis, hook it up, and let it do its thing. I’m too lazy for that, or at least too lazy to do it frequently enough.

My solution was to get a Synology DiskStation. It’s a network-attached storage (NAS) device that supports Bonjour and Time Machine backups. When used at home, it will backup your MacBook Pro and any other Mac computer, including the new Apple Silicon (M1 chip) Macs, on your local network without having to do a thing. Time Machine automatically detects when you’re on your home network and then determines when it’s time to backup your computer. All of it is done in the background. It’s beautiful!

Synology DiskStation NAS
Synology 2-Bay NAS DiskStation DS218

Synology also supports dual disk redundancy. I use the Synology DS1520+ with five WD Red NAS SSDs. It operates silently, and if two hard drives fail, I won’t lose any data.

The Synology NAS is also easy to set up and manage thanks to its browser-based web app called DiskStation Manager (DSM). The DSM is like using a mini operating system (OS) via your browser, and it can also be accessed remotely, away from your home.

Synology operating system
Synology is controlled by a web app called DiskStation Manager (DSM) which mimics a browser-based operating system (OS)

Best automated backup to cloud solution

Unfortunately, relying on one backup is not the best backup plan. Especially if you lose your computer in a house fire, which happens to be the same location as your Synology DiskStation. For that reason (and others), I use a cloud computing service for backups.

Just like Synology DiskStation with Time Machine, these services can be set up to run automatically in the background. The cloud computing service I use and recommend is Backblaze.


Backblaze Backup
Backblaze Backup in macOS System Preferences

I’ve tried several cloud computing backup services on macOS, including Mozy (now Carbonite), but Backblaze was the service that worked the best and was also the most unobtrusive. Like Time Machine, Backblaze automates the backup of your hard drive, or the folders you specify, and saves them securely in the cloud.

The price is incredibly cheap. It only costs $6/mo for unlimited storage. One of the things I like the most about Backblaze is that it allows me to specify the backup speed. I can either choose better network performance (slower backup speeds) or faster backups (full throttle backup speeds).

Backblaze Speed Throttle Preferences
Backblaze has flexible backup performance settings to optimize uploading for any network

Backblaze provides four options for restoring files. The first option lets you find and select files to download instantly. The second option has the same functionality, but instead of downloading the files, it saves a copy of them in Backblaze’s B2 Cloud Storage service. The third option will send files on a USB flash drive if the size of the files is 256 GB or less. And the fourth option will send you a hard drive if the size of the files is 8 TB or less.

Backblaze restore options
Backblaze provides multiple restore options, including instant downloads, saving to B2 Cloud Storage, or copying to a USB flash drive or hard drive
5 out of 5

What I liked most

  • Unlimited files
  • Affordable
  • Unobtrusive – runs in the background
  • Fast online backups
  • Multiple restore options
  • Well maintained by developer

Could be better

  • No known shortcomings

How to create a redundant backup with Synology and Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage

Since I’ve experienced catastrophic data loss before, I go one step further with my backups. I use the Hyper Backup app that comes with Synology to automatically backup my Time Machine backups once a week to Backblaze’s B2 Cloud Storage. That way if my daily backups somehow get corrupted or my Synology goes up in smoke, I’ll still have a recent copy of my Time Machine backup on B2.

Synology Hyper Backup
Use Synology’s Hyper Backup to backup Time Machine backups to Backblaze B2 cloud storage

I’ve tried many backup solutions over the years, and Synology and Backblaze are truly the best automated backup solutions I’ve found for the Mac.

Jon is the founder of Coywolf and the EIC and the primary author reporting for Coywolf News. He is an industry veteran with over 25 years of digital marketing and internet technologies experience. Follow @henshaw