SuperDuper! – Backups the easy way


SuperDuper is fast becoming everyone’s favorite backup utility. I have been using it on a constant basis for the last few months, and it has definitely earned its place in my must-have apps list.

The most impressive feature of SuperDuper is the ease-of-use that is evident throughout the app – something that is necessary for a backup application. Backing up data is one of the chores that you have to do, but at the same time, would not want to mess up in the slightest – after all it’s your data. And SuperDuper intends to make backing up your data a no-brainer – you always know, in plain English, what’s going on.


The main window is pretty minimal though it does hide quite a bit of tweaking that is available behind the scenes. The destination for the backup could be an internal or external hard drive, a network location, or a disk image. As you can see, I use an external USB drive for my backup.

A backup routine is directed by a script, a set of directions which can be customized. For example, I use my own custom script which, among other things, does not bother to backup my movie folders. The verbose “What’s going to happen?” informs you exactly the steps and the details that will happen next – handy for people like me who always want to make sure that they are not overwriting or erasing important files. Using Options, you can specify what kind of backup you want – a full erase and copy, to copy newer files to destination, to copy different files, or to do a Smart Update. Smart Update is the option you are most likely going to use after you have created an initial backup and want to do only quick backups after that. This makes the destination identical to the source with the minimal effort necessary, sort of like “Erase then transfer” but much quicker.

During the actual backup process, you are again told exactly what’s going on – amount of data analyzed for transfer, how much has been actually backed up, and the backup speed, which is usually quite impressive. After the backup wraps up, you have a choice to let your Mac sleep or shutdown or just quit SuperDuper.

Another nice touch is letting power users run their own shell scripts before and after a backup. These could by anything useful – from deleting your own temp folder before the backup begins, to sending you an email that the backup was done.

A Sandbox is another feature that can prove very useful. It keeps an identical bootable copy of your main drive’s system files which shares all your other data and apps from the main drive. It can be handy in certain scenarios, such as when you want to make a major update to your system. You can always boot from your previous Sandbox, apply the updates there, check if everything is working fine, and then resync the Sandbox to the original system.

SuperDuper comes with a handy scheduler as well.

The only thing it may lack is support for incremental backups where you can go back to different versions of the data you have been backing up in the past – something Leopard’s Time Machine is supposed to take care of. Read up on this topic at ShirtPockect’s blog.

So what is the final verdict? SuperDuper behaves like a first-class Mac application, gives you clear instructions about what’s going to happen at every step, has a very well done manual, has plenty of options to play with if you want to get your hands dirty, and does the whole job with the least intervention. If you have spare $27.95 buy this app.


Kevin L

Is it possible to do this back up without overriding the data I already have on an external drive? Or will it erase everything and start from scratch?

Lex Python

I use an external hard drive to back up both Mac and PC. For the PCs I have a lot of options for free backup software.

I purchased SuperDuper to back up the Macs. However, after shelling out my $28, I discovered that the back-up disc MUST be formatted to Mac-specific, which of course my PCs won’t read.

I’m sure it’s a fine product for Mac-only people, but seemingly useless for me.

If anyone has a solution besides re-formatting my backup drives, I’d love to hear it.

Carol Baier

I have a question for Mac (Intel )users. SuperDuper! (which my computer guy downloaded for me a few days after I got my iMac — about a month ago) quits about every 3 days. The message on the computer reads “SuperDuper unexpectedly quit. ” I copy it again and works another three days, etc. The SD tech tells me that Apple has a bug in 10.4.8 (Intel only) and hasn’t fixed the problem. Apple tells me that SD needed to write its software to their specs, not the reverse, and there’s nothing they can do to help.

I’m a cyber dunce so am hoping one of you guys can come up with a solution. SD says the only option is to roll back to 10.4.7 and Apple says my tech guy needs to run a disc utility (which SD says is ludicrous).

Jon Thaler

Without archiving, this utility is only doing half of the job. Here’s a scenario (yes, it happened to me):

* Address book becomes corrupted, but I don’t notice for 1-2 days. (I’m out of town.)
* Backup is performed: The backup now contains *only* the corrupted file.
* I return to find that no uncorrupted version of my address book exists any longer.
* BAM!!! I’m toast.

Chris Holland

Karsten: yup, it’s totally possible. I do nightly backups of both my powerbook and my fiance’s ibook to an external firewire drive hooked to my mac mini, over AFP and WiFi!!! All you have to do is pick the option to save to a disk image on the target back-up volume. So your backup volume may have any number of disk images, corresponding to the various backups you’ve got going-on. On my setup, the disk images are “sparse images”, so they can be overwritten each night. I use the “Smart Backup” option, so the update process only takes an hour over WiFi.

Demers Designs

Super Duper is truly a great program! I have been using it for a few months to do three types of backups to the same partitioned drive. It does a great job of maintaining a daily, weekly, and monthly backup all in the background. I was also able to find a coupon code that made it extremely affordable as if it wasn’t already… Five stars for sure!


Karsten, as I briefly mentioned above, I use SuperDuper! and an external USB/Firewire 300GB Maxtor drive partitioned in half. I use one partition for my Intel iMac and the other for my iBook G4. So, the answer to your question is yes, you can back up 2 (or more) different computers using SuperDuper!. Keep in mind, PPC will only boot from an external “Firewire” drive. I have heard, but not tested, that Intel Macs will boot from either? Still, I use Firewire on both my Macs to the external Maxtor 300GB drive. The Maxtor is configured for both (USB and Firewire). Hope this helped?


I give SuperDuper! 5 out of 5 stars. I use it to back up my iBook G4 and my Intel iMac – complaints? Nada, zilch, none :)! How could it be better? If it were “FREE” *LOL!*


The last time I tried, this app didn’t work with USB 2.0 drives, or wasn’t guaranteed to work on them. Has this been changed?


I’m also looking for a backup solution, for two Macs. Is it possible to backup 2 different computers on one external drive, using Superduper?

Mike Scott

We’re hooked on it. IMHO, the “Copy Different Files” or “Copy Newer files” seems to function as an incremental backup system.Although this might not have the granularity found in Retrospect, it does work nicely. Most of our folks use the “Copy Different…” option to ensure files don’t migrate out of the backup set. We do this to a network drive, unattended at night. Very nice app!


I am an IT professional, working in a big institution where we manage Po (Petas, yes thousands of Teras…) of data. Backing up is a familiar issue. Last year, for weeks, I have been evaluating all data backup solutions for my pessonal PMG5. SuperDuper came first with no difficulty. Even read a test that showed it was the only backup utility that respected and kept fully all the properties (Unix & OSX) of all the files. I have been using it for months. Incremental backups might be an issue, but I can deal with it. SD is a formidable product.


I’ve been using SuperDuper! for months as my primary backup solution, and I couldn’t be happier. I evaluated several different products before finding that SuperDuper! does exactly what I want! When I find well-written, full-featured software at a good price, I don’t hesitate to purchase it. This is one of those applications, and I rate it 4.9 out of 5. (They’re off by 0.1 just because Smart Backup sometimes is a little inconsistent.)

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