As a travel photographer, I tend to worry about my gear especially when on the road. I’m also concerned with my hard drives and SD and CF cards that store the photos of the amazing people and places that I’m so fortunate to photograph. When I get back from a shoot, I immediately transfer the images to my RAID system of hard drives in my office. Whether it be a single day or weeks of images that I’ve captured, I want to be sure that the fruits of my labor are preserved for the ages… or at least as long as I need them.
I use top of the line hard drives from G-Technology with my Mac Pro computer and MacBook Pro laptop, to make sure that my data is as secure as it possibly can be and I also use ChronoSync from Econ Technologies as my backup software as an integral part of my daily workflow. In the end, cameras and computers can be replaced but if you lose your data, that’s for life!
I get asked a lot about how I protect my precious images and other important data and I’m happy to share my secret weapon with you in this review of ChronoSync.
In years past, I used other software to backup my data but after trying ChronoSync and getting to know just how robust it is, I was sold. ChronoSync has just released the newest version of the app v4.8 and I’ve been lucky enough to be working on the beta version for a while now.
Let’s start at the beginning…
Developer: Econ Technologies, Inc.
What is ChronoSync?
ChronoSync is a software application for Mac OS computers that allows users to perform file synchronization, data backup & system bootable backups in a seamless and automated way.
In a nutshell, ChronoSync is a robust backup and synchronization app for Mac computers that helps users safely and efficiently keep their hard drives and other storage media safe and secure. It also allows you to backup or sync single or multiple folders across several drives or computers. I’ve been an avid user of the software for years and now with v4.8, it is easier than ever to use.
A FIRST GLANCE
I always find it easiest to get an overview of software with a video so I’ll share a quick intro to ChronoSync here.
Wow! Just watching that video makes my head spin… in a good way. This is a very robust application and just like any type of app that is geared towards so many types of users, you’ll likely only end up using a fraction of the options. The good thing is that if your needs expand, those options are there. Keep in mind that I use Chronosync mostly as a backup solution even though there are far more ways to use the software.
Let’s get a clearer picture of what exactly ChronoSync can do by digging into the nitty gritty.
SYNCHRONIZE – File and Folder Synchronization
Synchronization makes two sets of files identical to each other. The classic example is when you have a desktop computer in the office and a laptop for your travels. You would synchronize your documents before departure and again when you return. ChronoSync excels at this task!
If you’re looking to work on the same information on two or more separate hard drives or folders and want to keep all the data the same and up-to-date, then this is the feature for you. Most of us have at least two computers that we work on and it can be frustrating to keep all our documents synced. Problem solved with ChronoSync.
As an example, I want my downloads folders on my laptop and office computer to sync. I can never keep track where I downloaded documents and this becomes even more challenging on the road when I realize that the important file I had downloaded is sitting on my office computer when I’m thousands of kilometres away.
Let’s take a look at the simple way to sync two folders by using the new and very handy Assistant found in v4.8 of ChronoSync.
Open up the Assistant and choose what you want to do. In this case, I’m going to Synchronize Two Folders.
Follow the simple instructions and you’re on your way to having two perfectly identical folders.
Choose the first folder you want mirrored.
Choose the second folder.
If you want to play it safe, use the Archive feature to save deleted files. If you’re sure you want to trash them, uncheck the first checkbox.
Give it a name… Name the action something that makes sense to you for future reference.
Almost there… Follow the on screen instructions and you’re ready to sync!
Once you’ve set up your preferences simply click on the Sync button and the magic begins.
ChronoSync will show you the files being synced as they are processed.
All done! Congrats, you now have two perfectly synced folders!
It literally takes longer to read this part of my article than it does to set up and sync these folders. I love the new assistant and how easy it makes using ChronoSync. Without it, the software had a steeper learning curve and for busy people like you and me, let’s face it, having a little help getting mundane tasks done is a big relief. Even more importantly, by using the Assistant I’m surer than ever that my data is being preserved efficiently and securely. User error is the most likely way to make mistakes in dealing with file backups and synchronizations. The Assistant helps make the whole process easy to learn and use properly.
What else can you do with the Synchronize settings? I’m glad you asked…
- Synchronize between two Macs using built-in file sharing.
- Faster synchronization between Macs using ChronoAgent.
- Cloud Storage synchronization with services like Amazon S3.
- Synchronize with web servers via SFTP.
- Synchronize with iPads and iPhones using InterConneX.
- Automatically mount your remote Mac or server.
- Incremental scanning – only modified files get synchronized.
- Detect conflicts when files have changed on both sides.
- Deletions can be synchronized.
While I love all of what the software can do, I’ll never use all of the features but I’m sure glad to know that they are there if I ever need them!
BACKUP – Safekeeping Your Precious Data
A backup creates redundant copies of your files to protect against data loss. Backups to external hard drives and archiving old data is a must. For added redundancy, backup to remote devices and even the Cloud. ChronoSync can handle all this and more!
Backup is the feature I use the most. Let’s take a closer look at my system of backing up files…
In the field, I use my G-Drive EV hard drives to store two copies of my image files and any other data that is important to me when on the road. After each day of shooting, I’ll backup my memory cards to these drives and then run a backup of the primary drive to the secondary. I’ll keep one drive with me in my camera bag and one back at the hotel in the safe.
When I return home, I’ll use the primary road drive in my G-Dock EV and use ChronoSync to select the folders I want to import to my partitioned G-SPEED Studio R RAID system. Using a RAID system is one more way to make sure images are safe but I’ll save that for another day.
I have two identical 16 Terabyte RAID systems that I mirror by using ChronoSync’s backup feature on a daily basis by using the software’s easy to use scheduling feature. As my third copy, I use less expensive G-Drives that I back up to on roughly a monthly basis and then store them offsite in a safe place… just in case!
What else can you do with the Synchronize settings? Ask and ye shall receive…
- Backup to local hard drives, flash drives and SD cards.
- Backup to other Macs, servers or NAS devices via file sharing.
- Faster & more reliable backups to other Macs via ChronoAgent.
- Backup to Cloud Storage using services such as Amazon S3.
- Incremental scanning – only modified files get backed up.
- SmartScan technology can double (or triple) file scanning speed.
- Progressive scanning picks up where you left off.
- Verify copied files to ensure the integrity of your backups.
- Use simple or complex rules to limit the scope of your backups.
- Easily exclude entire folder branches from backup.
- Recover missing or corrupt files via the Restore function.
- Older copies of files can be archived & restored.
BOOTABLE BACKUPS – Quick Recovery From Catastrophe
A bootable backup is a clone of your startup hard drive. It allows you to start up your Mac and be instantly back to work if your primary hard drive fails — no fussing with trying to restore backed-up data. ChronoSync can handle bootable backups with ease!
I still use Apple’s Time Machine to do my regular backups of my computer’s main hard drive in case of an emergency or catastrophic loss of data. To make sure that the main drive data is 100% safe, I also use ChronoSync to create a bootable copy of the main drive and keep that off site. That way I have the best of both worlds in terms of keeping my main computer’s hard drive data safe.
Other benefits of bootable drives:
- Quickly & easily duplicate your system volume on another drive.
- Use a backup volume for additional storage in ‘Backup’ mode.
- Create an exact clone of your system using ‘Mirror’ mode.
- After the initial run, subsequent backups run faster than other apps.
- With SmartScan, backups are 2-3x faster than other programs.
- Backup to encrypted volumes with auto locking & re-locking.
- Backup to DMG for system clones on file servers & NAS devices.
- Backup to hard drives on remote systems using ChronoAgent.
SCHEDULE – Works While You’re Away
Powerful scheduling capabilities allow you to schedule any sync or backup to run at virtually any time interval you can imagine. Run tasks while you’re not using your computer or are busy using another app. It’s the “Chrono” in ChronoSync’s name!
This is one of the best features of ChronoSync. I’ve tried other backup software but could not find anything with the programmable backup/synchronizing scheduling that ChronoSync offers. You can schedule individual sync or backups or create containers to run multiple syncs and backups at once. I use a container to backup all the partitions on my RAID at the same time. Makes the whole process less time consuming and reliable.
More cool things to do with scheduling:
- Run sync or backup tasks on daily, weekly or monthly schedules.
- Any sync or backup task can run on multiple schedules.
- Wake your computer from sleep to run a scheduled task.
- Trigger tasks to run when volumes are mounted.
- Trigger ChronoAgent-based tasks when devices join a network.
- Optionally prompt the user before a scheduled task runs.
- Configure tasks to terminate if they take too long to run.
- Send email notifications on scheduled task completion.
- Send push notifications to your iPhone on task completion.
ASSISTANT – All New Feature in 4.8
Check out this slide show to see all of what can be accomplished with the aid of the Assistant.
One of the most important aspects of the newest version of ChronoSync is the new Assistant feature. I honestly wish that more software came with these kinds of tools. Anything that can make my life easier is certainly welcome. I don’t know about you, but I sure have better things to do than reading technical manuals and spend hours trying to decipher intricate instructions on how to do what should be simple tasks.
Browse through the slideshow above to see all the awesome features of the Assistant. If ease-of-use is as important to you as it is to me when it comes to important tasks like backing up your valuable data, then you will absolutely love this new feature.
Since the software can be complicated, that leaves more room for user error if you’re not paying close attention. The Assistant will help guide you to the solution that you need and make sure that you’re doing everything right.
There’s a saying in the computer data storage world that goes: “If it isn’t in three places, it doesn’t exist.” This is exactly why I choose to keep the third copy of all my hard drives off site just in case of fire, flood, or zombie apocalypse. Hey… you never know!
I typically will update my in office backups on a daily basis with the scheduler and the off site backups get updated around once a month depending on my travels. This way, I can rest easy that if anything happens to one or two of the copies of my data, I can easily restore from the third copy. One day, when the internet up and download speeds reach much higher levels, we’ll be able to do that in the cloud but for now, with terabytes of data, hard drives are the real only way to go.
One of the most important things to have when doing backups is trust in the method that you’re using. That’s where the Validator comes into play with ChronoSync.
After syncing or backing up your drives you can use the built in Validator to make sure that your data is not corrupt. In a normal sync or backup, this data corruption will not be detected.
The Validator is more useful in a sync rather than a backup since when syncing your data is being merged as opposed to copied.
Be aware that it is best to run the Validator without checking the “Marked mismatched items” box. If checked the files will be synced on the next run. Therefore, it is ideal to investigate any mismatched files before the next sync to make sure to check if it is the original file or the copy that is corrupted.
If using the Validator with a mounted file server or NAS drive, you should know that potentially not all metadata is preserved in those backups and therefore the Validator will flag those files. ChronoSync tries to help by enabling only the metadata it thinks it has a reasonable chance of preserving, the first time you invoke the Validator. Just know that if the “Data Fork” passes, your most important details of your files are preserved.
I need to mention that if you buy a license for ChronoSync, it is for life. No update no matter how big or small will ever cost you another penny. How many software companies make you that promise? To me, this makes far easier to justify buying the software if you’re on the fence. Trust me, backing up your data is an investment in your money, time, and peace of mind and if you really think about it, there is no price tag that you can put on that.
I’ve just brushed on the capabilities of ChronoSync here and have to admit that I’m not a tech nerd kinda guy who digs into all the bells and whistles of what every piece of software I own can do. I want something to work for me in the most efficient and rapid fashion and that’s what ChronoSync does for me. There is a solid help section on the Econ site and they offer friendly email support as well. Be sure to dig into the Econ site to read up on all the features of ChronoSync and watch their video tutorials as well.
I hope you enjoyed the review and that you’ll feel more secure when backing up your precious data from now on. No matter what you use your computer and hard drives for, don’t wait for a catastrophic loss of data due to a drive failure or any other reason. Make backing up your data a regular routine and you’ll never regret it… trust me!