Backing Up Your Mac on the Go

If you're traveling with your Mac, it's probably because you're working on the road, or you're taking a bunch of photos and videos and want to offload them from your camera to the laptop. The scary thing is what happens if something goes wrong? Or if someone steals your computer while you're out and about. It would suck to have to replace the device, but most of us would be more upset about losing the contents of that device.

Today's post is how to keep your data safe on the Mac.

Mac Backup On-The-Go

We always want two forms of backup for our devices, whether you travel with your Mac or not. Physical, in the form of an external drive you have quick access to, and a cloud backup.

If your system crashes, it will take an hour or two to restore your data from a physical drive you have on hand.

A cloud backup can take days or weeks depending on your internet speed. To me, cloud backups are for worst case scenarios. To me, it's worth $50/year to have a cloud backup in case of a disaster that puts my computer and backup drive out of commission at the same time.

External Drive: If you don't have one, get one!

This Seagate is usually what I recommend my clients buy. It's cheap and will get the job done. More expensive ones like LaCie or G-Drive fail just as often as these in my experience. Save yourself some money and get a cheap one.

If you want fast and reliable and are willing to spend more, buy a Samsung T3 SSD. I just bought one last week and LOVE IT! It's super fast, small, and unlikely to fail any time soon like a standard hard drive. Curious about SSDs? I wrote an article here about it if you want to learn more.


Now that we have the physical device, we need to decide how to back up your computer.

  • Carbon Copy Cloner: If you work on your computer and it is critical to be up and running as fast as possible when the worst happens, this is the way to go. You plug the drive in and it makes a perfect copy of your drive. You can plug that drive into any just about any other Mac holding the Option key and boom, all your stuff appears! If you go this route I suggest you use an SSD like the Samsung T3. Super Duper is another option along this route, but I prefer Carbon Copy Cloner.
  • Drag and Drop: When it comes down to it, you really don't need a fancy app to get your stuff on an external drive. All you have to do is drag the files you want to the external drive. I do recommend at least creating folders to organize everything. The downside is you constantly have to update the drive manually. My opinion? Use Time Machine is you want easy and free. Carbon Copy Cloner if you want more control and don't mind spending $40.

Cloud Backup

  • Crashplan: This is what I used to use before switching to Backblaze and what the rest of my clients are on who haven't switched over. It's still great, but they don't give you unrestricted speed access to their servers. They also will not send you a drive to restore from. Your only option is through the internet. 

There are other online backup services out there but, I believe these are the best options for your Mac. I hear Carbonite for Windows is excellent. Do not use it for your Mac. It will slow you down and has not been reliable for my clients when they actually needed it.

What about iCloud?

Most Apple users out there are under the impression iCloud is backing up their whole computer like their iPhone. This IS NOT the case. There are several different things iCloud will back up for you at an additional cost. Not only do they cost more, you have to opt into the service.

The caveats of iCloud are numerous and deserve their own posts. In fact, I've written about them if you want to learn more.

If you've upgraded to the newest operating system, macOS Sierra, iCloud will also give you the option to back up your Desktop and Documents folders to iCloud Drive so you have access to those files on your iOS devices and at Remember, if you're going to do this, you'll likely need to upgrade your storage space on iCloud.

In summary...

There are a TON of options out there but if you stick with the suggestion below, you're in good shape.

Bring an external drive with you to backup your photos and other important documents and make sure to sign up for Backblaze or Crashplan. Use iCloud Photo Library to back up your photos and videos, especially if you decide to skip out on another cloud solution like Backblaze.

Questions? Give me a call or shoot me an email! Comments below are welcome as well!

If you've found this helpful, would you share it with someone you think could benefit from this? Thank you!