PsyncX for Backing Up OS X: A Review


Yesterday, I published the brief results of my short survey of OS X backup options. I said that I'd be hesitant to try the open source PsyncX without additional information. The problem isn't that I don't like trying untested software, I just don't like trying untested software that mucks around with my file system when that same system is not backed up! Well, Ted Hughes wrote to me and told me of his experience with PsyncX, so I decided to try it. Here's what I found.

I chose to backup my user directory to a SMB mounted disk from another machine.

  • PsyncX is a fairly simple program that mirrors a target to a source.
  • You can't select multiple disks. Since my email, my documents, and my Radio files are all in separate places, I could only backup one at a time.
  • The good thing about a mirror is that it is immediately accessible and its easy to see if what you wanted is there.
  • The downside is that its unencrypted, uncompressed, and you don't get incrementals. That's not to say that PsyncX copies files, even if they're unchanged---it doesn't---but that you can't revert back to the way a file was 3 days ago. The changes will just get written out and overwrite the old file.
  • PsyncX is really just a GUI on a script that gets called from cron. Once its set, you can't edit the cron job from within PsyncX. I haven't tested whether you can create multiple PsyncX cron jobs using the GUI (to back up different targets). You could certainly create them by hand.

So, it works and is simple to use. Its not sophisticated by any means and I'd like to see more control over targets and destinations, along with the ability to edit scheduled jobs. Still, its free and my data is now a lot safer than it was this morning.