Blog Post

Backup to Server Based Storage with Chronosync

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

chronosyncRecently the group that I work in was given the opportunity to move from Dell (s dell) laptops to MacBook Pros. Score! Since the business infrastructure has been 100% percent PC to date, we had to develop something of a business plan for how to deal with having Macs in the workplace. Chief among our concerns was how to keep them backed up to protect all of our hard work. Probably not unlike many businesses, we have a NAS that everyone’s machine backs up to, and surprisingly, this is where we [temporarily] came to a bit of a sticking point with our Mac migration.

Some of the more obvious choices (at least to this author) were Apple’s (s aapl) own Time Machine (free with OS X), SuperDuper! ($27.95), and Carbon Copy Cloner (free). It came as a surprise, however, that none of these options seemed to allow for targeting a Samba mounted shared server. Some Googling showed that Time Machine could manage it with a hack, but we were unsuccessful in making this solution work. So the search was on — what could we use as a backup solution to target a password authenticated Samba share?


We tried nearly everything. We Googled until we were blue in the face, but to no avail, which was surprising, as this can’t be an isolated need for Mac business users. So I raided my Applications folder (a mess of apps that I’ve toyed with over the years and never deleted) to see if I couldn’t find something. Luckily, I came across Econ Technologies’ ChronoSync, just lying in wait, right there in my own apps directory!

Chronosync offers the typical options for backing up or synchronizing anything on your Mac. Its superior flexibility of different source and target folders was ultimately what made it the go-to for our scenario at work. One of my favorite features is the ability to do a trial sync, which shows you what files will be copied and how, before committing a full-fledged backup operation. Add to this a myriad of settings for defining rules about what’s synchronized, when, and how, and this is one of the most powerful backup solutions I’ve seen for OS X.

If you’re in the market for a seriously capable and configurable backup solution on your Macintosh — and especially if you’re a business Mac user — I suggest you give Chronosync a try. The demo version limits the number of files that can be synced, but you’ll get a better idea of whether it’s worth you $40 for a single license or not.

17 Responses to “Backup to Server Based Storage with Chronosync”

  1. @JohnO
    Although I’ve not done the exact same thing as you it sounds easy enough to do this with ChronoSync.

    Like Retrospect you’d backup from 1 drive/location to the others. Then you’d change the sync type from backup to bi-directional sync.
    You can also set the option to archive changed and deleted files.

    You could download the demo to try it.

  2. I’m looking for a Retrospect backup replacement. My target environment is 3 Macs, one as the backup server with removable hard drives. It looks like the new Chronosync and Chronoagent might fit the bill.

    Has anyone tried this configuration?

    The typical Retrospect backup starts with a ‘full’ backup of each Mac, then each subsequent backup just grabs changed files. The ‘backup media set’ always has the ability to restore everything to the most recent state, or you can grab older copies of individual files from the ‘backup media set.’

    Does/Can Chronosync work similarly?

  3. I use Chronosync to sync my data onto Time Capsule. Not all backup software can sync (I prefer syncing to backing up). Not all can mount a drive. Not all allow you to pick and choose what you want to sync. That’s why I bought Chronosync. Good stuff.

  4. Hello,

    I’m the QA/tech support guy at Decimus Software. Our product Synk comes in three flavours, all of which can mount and back up to SMB shares.

    One of my favourite things about the Mac dev. scene is that there’s so much shareware—you can download a trial of many developers’ products and make sure that you get the results you want. Always a plus for users (:


  5. Have you tried restoring yet? Simple file restoring should be fine, but whole system-restore might be a problem. I think this is why SuperDuper! doesn’t support it, something to with file permissions, or meta data.

    • Well I’ve booted from the chronosync backup (on the external usb drive), but haven’t copied it BACK across to my internal MBP hard drive. Though since a boot worked, I’m certain copying it back over will work fine too.

  6. Scott Laird

    You might want to take a look at CrashPlan as well; it’s basically a peer-to-peer backup system that runs on Macs, Windows, and Linux. It’s free for home use if your bring your own storage, or they’ll host your backups for a relatively small amount of money. I’ve been using it on my Macs for almost a year with no problems. You can basically just install it and forget about it, and it takes care of all of the details.

  7. Yea, I tried but failed to get SuperDuper working.

    So as well as using Time Machine I also use ChronoSync for a second backup, as well as using it to sync files between another Mac
    ChronoSync is a great app, and that icon is hawt. Who made it?

    d: ǝɯ :ɹǝʍsuɐ

  8. I’m switching my “home based” business over to a Mac mini. Want to also add a MBP, as well as the kids MBP’s to the network. If I want to replace my older Linksys with a Time Machine, is ChronoSync then a good option to store files on the Time Machine that would be accessed by all, as well as allow me to synchronize my (future purchase) MBP and mini?

    Sorry, I know this is a “newbie” question, but TheAppleBlog was very helpful in getting me to “take the plunge” and switch from PC last week….

    • Bill, I’m guessing that what you mean is to replace the linksys with Apple’s Time Capsule (wireless base station with hard drive built-in). In that case, you’d probably be safe to just use Apple’s built in Time Machine backup solution (as that’s what the Time Capsule was ultimately built for. But if you opted to purchase Chronosync, it too would handle the job for you.

      Beware though, backing what sounds like 3 or 4 machines up to the Time Capsule could spend that storage space pretty quickly – you may need to think about adding additional storage, depending on your individual hard drive capacities, and backup setting…

      Hopefully that helps

    • While technically true, I do not recommend it. I use both Time Machine and ChronoSync. Time Machine backups go to my Time Capsule, while Chronosync updates to my file server. You want to have 2 separate backup copies, in case things go wrong.
      Also, I use Chronosync to only back up select files (Documents, email, photos, iTunes). If I need to quickly get a file back, I go to my Time Machine backup. If I need to restore my Apple (as I plan on doing during the Snow Leopard install), I rebuild the machine, re-install the programs and the restore my files from the ChronoSync backups

  9. Uhm… these sound terribly difficult (and not free). I’ve used Unison for a while to sync folders between my laptop (previously a Lenovo running Ubuntu and now a MBP with 10.5x). Set it up and sync when you want. Launch the sync and before you commit it the list shows what will be updated and WHERE. Give it a go and see what you think.

  10. Catmanrog

    I know how wonderful you will feel through my own MBP 2.6, hi res matt screen experiences over the past year and a half. I use Superduper firewired to a partitioned back up drive when my schedule calls. I’ll bet Superduper would work for you if you called them, but Chronosync sounds great. Your MBP office experiences should be reported in future posts…. :-)

    • I hacked away with SuperDuper! (it’s my personal backup app of choice) but could not get it working – though I didn’t call Shirt Pocket for assistance…

      I’ve used my personal Mac in the office unofficially for a while, but when it became official, several potential snags have reared their ugly heads. Been working through them, but LOVING having a work Mac officially. I’ll definitely add more posts about the process.