A question concerning MANUAL & INEXPENSIVE DTP3 backups

Until I moved to DT I didn’t really have anything on my Mac. My employers use gDrive and OneDrive (I have two employers), I used several apps that had their own cloud services, I kept a few things on Dropbox and I have an iCloud subscription for anything else. I also kept a lot of my notes in actual notebooks. I didn’t really store anything locally as there was no need. Even my desktop syncs to my iCloud.

One of my reasons for moving to DT was that I was getting a bit fed up of having to rummage across all these services and remember where I saved stuff (as I do similar jobs for both employers, this can be especially maddening if I can’t remember what task I was doing when I interacted with a file). The downside of this was that I’m deliberately pulling files back on to a local drive. At first I ignored the downside, but people mention backups on here quite a lot so I thought I’d best put a system in place just in case!

1 Like

and if that is what is stored as backup on a cloud server, then great.

so many though consider their synched cloud folders as backup. i don’t.

1 Like

Cloud storage is, usually, going to mean data is in a different geographic location and for simple files it works almost like real offsite storage. But it collapses pretty quickly, as DevonThink support will attest, when you deal with active databases, growing video files and a number of other special cases highlighted in this forum and elsewhere. Backblaze has similar problems in that it doesn’t back up every single byte of data, specifically metadata. As noted for DevonThink databases, it works well enough if you zip your backups before you move them to the cloud. Trial runs of restoring from backup should be done with some regularity.
So yes, the cloud could be part of a system but not the only part of an offsite storage system. As Google Drive and now MS OneDrive users will attest, you’re not in control if your cloud provider changes how their software works with your data.

Despite what we all might wish, backing up is more of a psychological exercise than a quantifiable technical one, at least when it comes to consulting people on best practices.
I hate being that guy but I am frequently forced to answer “well, it depends” when asked “What should I be doing?”
I have run film editing rigs where there can be no down time of the system which means copies of verified system drives and constant backing up of original footage, with copies going out the door constantly. That’s more data transfer than most people have to deal with but it highlights the cost calculation someone made to have an editor sit around while a tech installs software on a new drive or waiting for a replacement system to show up.

1 Like

Of the four threats, isn’t the one of a ransomware attack still missing? I have 7 databases running with a total of 125 GB and I am thinking about creating an immutable backup on Wasabi with Arq. However, I don’t know exactly what volume of data will be loaded onto Wasabi if I change one file per day in each of the 7 databases. Will an additional 125 GB be created immutable for the duration of the lock? So with a daily backup and a lock duration of 30 days, a data volume of 30 x 125 GB?

Sure, although I guess you could count that as the fifth failure i.e. a moral failure, on the part of the antagonist.
To pick up on your word choice though, I make a distinction between threat and failure because threats require a willful antagonist and are not inevitable and they necessitate a different behaviour from you and your IT department, while a failure is guaranteed to happen somewhere, somehow.
Both things require preparedness but the psychological and social assessments you have to do are different.

1 Like

Have you compared costs for cloud storage?
I’m going for the 1TB at US$59.99/year with Arq Premium
(includes the app license fee)

Also a comment on “Manual”; I prefer Automatic
Time Machine backup is automatic, running ever hour with incremental backups
Arq backup is automatic, running ever hour with incremental backups

1 Like

I concur, also using Arc, where cloud storage is quite inexpensive. Also, iCloud is not particularly well known for reliability and speed (note the diplomatic wording).


Curses on the lot of you :grinning:—no. not really…! I am a ruthless “backer-up”: nightly to an SSD using Carbon Copy Cloner and weekly to a hard disk using Time Machine—plus weekly export of each of my DEVONthink databases to a database archive. However…off-site has been notably fitful (through lack of any suitable off-site location). You have all succeeded in imbuing in me a growing sense of panic <sigh>.

There’s just too much on my MacBook Pro of value—it’s crept on to it barely noticed as time has passed: years of trancribed diaries (all now lovingly curated in DEVONthink), years of photos, huge classical music downloads, AppleScript that my aging brain will never be able to re-create…

OK, you did it: I’ve just downloaded Arq and am trying the free trial (including the free trial of Arq Premium) and I already think I know what’s going to happen at the end of the trial—if not before.

Of course, this post may not make the forum—uploads are a little congested just at the moment. :grinning:



I cannot remember the details now, but I once wrote advice for students, some of whom would plead, as mitigation for not handing in their work, “my pendrive/laptop was stolen”, “my file became unreadable” … . It was to think about the risks, and what types of backup would provide insurance against different risks. It began with something like:

  1. There is a power cut while you are editing your file and it gets corrupted

  2. You accidentally erase a file you later need

  3. Your hard disk fails and becomes unreadable
    4 . Your laptop is stolen

  4. Your computer picks up a virus

    m. Your house burns down

    n. Nuclear war in Europe

The simplest and cheapest is surely, as people have said, an external HDD and Time Machine. That covers 1-3 but if the virus can access the external drive, it might not cover 5 and above. Maybe two external HDDs solves that (Time machine handles backups to multiple external drives very easily). It will remind you, “HDDn has not been backed up for 25 days” even if another HDD was backed up 5 minutes ago.) If one of them is stored in another building (a neighbour or your home if you are in the office) then it solves the house fire as well. Risk n probably means storing a copy the other side of the world.

The frequency with which you do various backups clearly depends on the cost of replacing the data.


I use the cloud; offsite and at least another part of the country
Time Machine doesn’t back up to the cloud so I use a third party alternative

Got me thinking where is “the other side of the world”
I found the answer at https://www.antipodesmap.com/

Very diplomatic @chrillek

/bites tongue
/curses under breath


1 Like

Bookmarked and copied to a Markdown doc in DEVONthink. Great stuff!

Backups: sigh. Why are the things we Have To Do so boring (rhetorical ??). So I use Time Machine to back up occasionally to a big old hard drive. And I have critical things I’m currently working on sitting in iCloud. And I have Backblaze. So I’ve made it as easy as possible and it seems to be working fine – and when four drops of clean water on the keyboard fried my MacBookPro logic board, I was very, very grateful to have them. My question for the group: Arq? As is my wont, I looked up most recent reviews and Arq doesn’t do very well. And nobody here mentioned Backblaze (which I learned about here), which gets very good reviews. Something I’ve missed?

Can you post a link to those reviews
I needed a cloud version of Time Machine, and committed to a year with Arq Premium
So far (2 weeks), the results look good

I think Arq had some problems when version 7 came out. I’m using it regularly (also to backup to Blaze), and have no complaints.

But (big but!): I didn’t have to restore anything yet. Not drinking while working…

what does it cost to loose a week of work?

I’ve used Arq and Backblaze in the past. I dropped Backblaze a while ago.

Arq had issues with version 6. Version 5 and 7 never caused issues for me. Restores work as expected.

Backblaze spends a lot on marketing, but their software quality seems to have an amateurish touch (bugs, longstanding security issues, questionable design decisions and other things giving them a really bad look) that several people/engineers highlighted while I was looking on Twitter and Hackernews a while back (examples linked in the comment below):

In addition to those issues, they don’t really back up all your data:

Here is a comment quoting Backblaze themselves on this:

Encrypted DT databases can’t be backed up unless open.

Some other issues I encountered while using Backblaze:

  • No zero knowledge encryption because restores aren’t possible without giving them your password.
  • Web restores have to be divided in dozens of parts because of some limitation.
  • You have to request the restores, which can take days if your backup size is bigger than a few hundred GB.
  • No real search feature for all your backups. You have to reload the restore website, navigate to a date, look for your data and then reload the whole page if you need to navigate to another date.
  • Their downloader app crashes a lot while restoring files.
  • I often had to force quit their backup agent process because Backblaze didn’t see changes.
  • Their backup is said to run constantly, but in reality it was mostly every 4-6 hours.

In comparison, Arq has better features:

  • Immutable backups.
  • You can schedule as needed.
  • Snapshot based backups.
  • Zero knowledge encryption.
  • Restores without any delay.
  • Restores to a chosen folder or the original location.
  • Search that finds all versions of your files easily, no navigation in a calendar view necessary.
  • Multiple destinations, remote and local backups.
  • Smaller CPU footprint and more responsive software.
  • No limitations with external drives.
  • NAS support.

I’m a week behind you with Arq Premium but agree with your assessment (just in case it assists others here).


1 Like

No, Arq deduplicates data and will only upload the changes.

Just be aware that Wasabi has a 90 day minimum storage time requirement. So you might make your backups immutable for 90 days (instead of 30) because you are paying for it anyway, even if you delete something earlier.

I just read that and wanted to summarize some points, @winmker

Your proposed idea works perfectly fine!

But it is a bit lacking … so let’s add some generic information:

A good advice is, to have 2 local and 1 remote “current” copies of your data.

Of course, TimeMachine can be used for the second local copy.
Wether that should be done automatically or manually depends on your needs and type of data, also the rate of change to your data.

In general, new backups are only required when something important got added or changed. That’s your decision.

And then, you should also have at least one older backup, an archive - in case things go bad.

If your remote solution is OneDrive or Dropbox, this also protects against ransomware or similar problems, because they can also act as archive - restoring older versions of you data from their versioning.

I am not sure about iCloud in this regard, but read that this is not fully possible - only for “documents”.

So, in such a case, you should archive data yourself, meaning that you hold and rotate older backups.

Again, such archives could just be additional and older local backups, but if the amount of data allows for this, it is good to (also) have them in a remote location.

That’s it.

And in case of DEVONthink, you often already added a remote sync location, which solves the “remote current copy” automatically.
So, with your manual backup, you are already quite secure.

The only thing missing is, that you should hold some older archives and rotate them from time to time. At best local and on a remote location.

1 Like