Jun 022012

Backup Buddy (or BB for short) is a new backup app that I designed, with the help of some friends of mine, who go under the collective name of “Koomasi”.

The idea For Backup Buddy came to me when I started looking for a backup solution for my Mac. (Until a few years ago, I used Retrospect Express which suited my backup needs, but was rather awkward to use.)

I did some market research, and although I found that there were many backup solutions available, none seemed to fulfill my specific needs. What I wanted was a backup utility with the following features:

  • Simple to set up and use.
  • Easy access to the backed up files directly from the Finder.
  • The ability to create incremental backups -like Apple’s Time Machine- but offering more control.
  • The ability to store the backup inside a disk image, so as to not have the backup files appear in Spotlight search results – yet still be searchable when needed.

Finding two or more of these features in an app was not a problem. But finding them all was. Usually when an app had all the features I wanted, it was too complicated. When it was simple enough for my needs, it did not have one or more of the features I needed.

In the end, I designed a mockup of a backup application, which had all the features I needed – and only those features. I presented my idea to my friends at Koomasi, and they agreed to develop this backup app, using my guidelines and interface design. So Backup Buddy was born.

Backup Buddy is basically my vision of what Apple’s Time Machine should be like.

The current implementation of Time Machine is an uneven compromise between simplicity and control. In any backup application, the user should be able to control three basic things: what to backup, where to store the backup, and when the backup runs. Apple has taken away two of those choices, allowing the user only the choise of where to store the backup.

This makes Time Machine’s behaviour much more difficult to predict. For example, it’s not clear what happens when you plug in an external drive; is it included in the Time Machine backup automatically? if it is, could you restore backup items even when the disk is not mounted? Apple’s ‘one size fits all’ philosophy creates a lot of uncertainty when you step outside its basic assumptions.

Apple obviously believes that the way Time Machine works is better because it’s simple. I think it’s not just simple, but simplistic. In contrast, Backup Buddy tries to keep things simple, but still allows the user to make the important choices. This makes for a far more flexible backup solution, while still being easy enough for a novice to use.

Another idea I wanted to introduce in Backup Buddy, is that the user can have more than one backup. Time Machine just backups everything into a massive archive. Backup Buddy can also do that, but it can be used with much more precision. The concept of backup actions allows the user to store different groups of files into different destinations, or even store the same group of files into two or more destinations at the same time.

You can check out Backup Buddy in the App Store.



  2 Responses to “Backup Buddy: backup, simplified”

  1. Is there a way you can backup to a friends computer at another site? That way I have a backup that is offsite. In this case I guess I also need encryption.

    • Backup through the internet is always very slow, even with broadband speeds. Point-to-point backup like you describe is difficult to achieve because it needs very technical configuration to your rooter and your friend’s rooter so that they can find each other and allow the data to pass through. This is beyond the scope of Backup Buddy, which is designed to be as simple as humanly possible and still be functional. However, Backup Buddy supports online services such as DropBox for online backups. For more information please refer to the official Backup Buddy page.

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