My company runs Mac workstations (mainly laptops) for most of its infrastructure, and we would like to have the workstations backed up periodically. While our staff are 'trained' to store work files on the server there is always the possibility that they have WIP which gets lost or they need to roll back etc.

We have been using Time Machine with a MacMini Server, however this has been a bit flakey, and after I moved the backups storage location (due to running out of disk space) and re-created the share the backups don't seem to want to complete verification and its been overall unreliable.

I am wondering if there are any other solutions out there which will offer something similar to Time Machine, even an appliance like the SonicWALL CDP, but will be more reliable and transparent as to what is happening?


5 Answers 5


It's kind of hacky but you can purchase a higher end (i.e. not Apple) network storage device and use it to backup using Time Machine. Lifehacker has a tutorial on how to set it up and it's nice because you don't have to worry about extra software licensing costs and time machine is almost dead simple.

  • Regrettably, that link to Lifejacket is dead. Commented Jan 5 at 6:00

We use Crashplan Pro, it works well for the laptops and road warrior types.

  • Thanks, but I'm not really looking for an 'online' backup service, but more something which can use our server as the backup destination Commented Nov 20, 2010 at 2:32
  • When you buy the Pro version, you get server software that's managed in house. The online is just an option.
    – erimar77
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 19:28
  • Thanks for pointing this out - I only had a cursory glance :) Commented Nov 24, 2010 at 12:50

A Unix-wizard solution similar to Apple's Time Machine is rdiff-backup, which can be run periodically with the right entry in the crontab.

If you do not need to keep historical revisions, an even simpler solution is rsync (which is installed on OS X), coupled with crontab entries for periodic runs (this is what I've been using for years).

If you want, say, daily backups from laptops, the crontab might miss the backup time; in this case, a solution is to install anacron, which runs tasks that are overdue

PS: I wonder whether backuping a Time Machine drive does not require some special care: in fact, Apple uses hard links to directories, which might not be correctly handled by all copy methods (because they might allow infinite directory hierarchies through loops).

  • If you are taking this approach, also take a look at rsnapshot.org . Commented Nov 19, 2010 at 16:00
  • @Clinton: Thanks! rsnapshot looks great. I'm curious about how it differs from rdiff-backup. Commented Nov 20, 2010 at 9:44
  • My Mac keeps suspending when unattended, preventing cron jobs from running. Help? Commented Jan 5 at 6:03
  • Maybe Apple > System Settings > Battery > Low Power mode > Never (macOS 14)? Commented Jan 6 at 10:12

If you have a mac mini server already then how about using network home directories to backup user data from client to server and then using a simple incremental rsync script to backup the data from the server to a 3rd party storage device.


We use Roxio's Retrospect and it works fairly well. It has a mode called Proactive Backup where it will sit there and backup your machines as they come onto the network, based on how long it's been since they were last backed up. We find it handy for road warriors, etc.

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