Making backups of your Mac’s Photos Library are among the more popular questions to Mac 911. It’s not enough for many people to have one backup made by Time Machine; a lot of you also want a manually-created backup that’s more accessible in case something goes wrong. The catch to manually backing up a Photos Library is to use a method that isn’t tedious.
The answer may lie with sync software. Sync software lets you keep files and folders in two locations (or more) up to date with each other. Sync software has been around since the earliest days of the Mac, and I’ve used many sync apps.
My current favorite sync app is ChronoSync. It’s kind of a kitchen-sink program: it can do any kind of thing you could plausibly want to do to keep things synchronized, cloned, backed up, archived, whatever. It requires a little study to master, but it’s worth it. It’s $50 but it has a perpetual upgrade license, and all future improvements are included.
How to use ChronoSync to back up your Photos Library
Start by simply copying your Photos Library over to the external hard drive or whatever storage device you want to use. (Your Photos Library is located on your Mac’s primary storage device, in a folder called Pictures.) The library is treated by macOS as a package that it can copy without any difficulty. After that, you can set up a synchronization task in ChronoSync.
In ChronoSync, pick the primary Photos Library on your main storage device as the Source Target. Then select the library you copied to the external drive as the Destination Target. And that’s about it. Save the task and run it whenever you want. ChronoSync will make sure any changes made to your primary library will be reflected in the backup.
You can also schedule tasks in ChronoSync and use mounting a volume as a trigger. When you bring the volume back from offsite to update it, plug it into your Mac, and the sync operations starts.
You can keep a perfectly cloned backup, but you can also use its archive options. With Synchronize Deletions and Archived Replaced Files both checked, the destination copy of Photos Library will always resemble your live version. But any files deleted or updated have their original versions stored in an archive directory for later retrieval.
This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Robb.
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