I was recently trying to configure automatic backups for a friend’s computer, the idea being that once a week his important files would be backed up to his .Mac account. Having remote backup is one of the reasons he is paying for a .Mac membership. It’s not an ideal or comprehensive backup solution, but definitely a good thing.
But, the whole point is it’s supposed to be automatic, transparent, set and forget, don’t think about it until the time comes when you have to restore. The problem is, the backups just keep taking up more and more space on his .Mac account. Eventually it fills up. And Backup stops working.
Backup’s only built-in solution in that situation is Edit › Clear iDisk Backup Folder, but that blows away all his backups. Not the best thing.
How hard would it be for Backup to be pretty good? Just a little bit of effort, to add better recurring backup capabilities, including the ability to automatically delete older backups to make room for new ones?
You don’t want it to be hard to configure…or to kill the market for backup software. But that’s not hard — just come up with one decent scheme, and make it easy to select. One simple preference for recurring backups to iDisk: “Delete oldest backups to make room for new ones.” And just like that, you’d have good, rotating backups. Want to limit the amount of iDisk space the backups take? Add “Keep at most xx backups.” Or maybe “Backup can use at most xxx megabytes on iDisk.”
Something like this:
Now obviously there’s some complexity hidden there. And who knows what the right implementation would do, behind the scenes, to make the user experience this simple. My point is simply that Backup right now can confuse people, or make them use it incorrectly — my friend is living proof. I just want Backup to be something that he can use, reliably and without anxiety.
Me, I’ll stick to Retrospect.