Actually, you should not need a manual to use SmartBackup.
But just in case - here is one anyway.

SmartBackup 4 Help Topics

A quick introduction
Configuration options
Automation/Scheduling
Creating a bootable clone
Syncing or cloning of Filevault2 disks
Fixing unavailable destinations
Archiving options
Optimising the number of copy threads
Errors
Commandline mode
Upgrading a backup from SmartBackup 3
Issues caused by bugs in 10.12 Sierra
Get in touch


A quick introduction
SmartBackup syncs one or multiple sources (files, folders or volumes) to a destination folder or volume. You can configure several destinations with each having their own sets of source items. (If you have more than one destination configured you can switch between them using the popup button under the destination icon.)

You start by adding a destination to the right black side of the interface (either drag and drop a destination onto it or use the + button to select the destination using an open panel). (A destination can also be an existing SmartBackup destination in which case its source configuration and settings will be loaded automatically.)

After having chosen the destination you can add source files, folders or volumes to the white source side via drag&drop or using the + button and an open panel. Click "Start" to start the initial sync.

Click "Options" to configure the options for the currently selected sync destination. Options include archiving and scheduled automatic syncs. Click the "Search" button to search the destination for files by name and see all existing versions.

You can exclude items from a sync by adding them as a source and setting the mode popup on the right to "exclude" (which will only exclude this very item) or "exclude all" (which will exclude all items with this name).

Sometimes you want to exclude invisible macOS system folders from your backup (like document versions on the root of volumes). To add those, click the + button to show the open panel and then use the Command-Shift-Fullstop shortcut to show invisible files in the open panel. Now you can select them, add them as sources and set them to be excluded.


Configuration Options
All backup settings (sources and excludes, options and automation) are stored inside the backup destination and can be different for each backup. You can at any point re-select an existing backup in SmartBackup and the settings are re-loaded from it.

Each backup source has a "mode" popup on its right side. This popup can be set to "sync" (the default), "skip" ignore this item currently, "exclude" exclude this item from the sync if it comes up as a subfolder of another backup source that is set to "sync", and "exclude matching" which excludes every item with this name in any other source that you have configured.

In addition, the backup has "Options" which are accessible via the "Options" button. The option panel shown when you click the buggon, allows you to configure Automation (please see the Automation section for details), Archiving options (please see the Archiving Options section for details) and "Advanced" options. You should not have to modify the defaults configured under "Advanced" unless you do something specific like debugging a sync using extended logging, changing the number of parallel copies (please see the "copy threads" section for details) or require pre-allocation for Xsan/Stornext volumes.


Automation/Scheduling
In SmartBackup 4 you can configure a schedule to run the sync to a destination automatically in the background. Click the "Options" button and the "Automation" tab on the panel to configure the schedule for the currently selected destination.

Once the scheduled time arrives, SmartBackup will automatically start the sync in the background (without showing the SmartBackup window), and send notifications to the Notification Centre. If your Mac was asleep when a scheduled time arrived, the sync will happen immediately when your Mac wakes up. If your Mac was switched off, the scheduled sync is skipped.


Creating a bootable clone
To create a bootable clone of your macOS installation:
  • Launch SmartBackup in SuperUser mode via the SmartBackup menu
  • Create a new backup and select the destination volume
  • Add the harddisk of your Mac as a source
  • Click "Start"
SmartBackup can not only create a fresh clone of your start-volume, but also update an existing clone - which is of course much faster. Think of your clone simply as a SmartBackup backup. It supports all the features including excludes and archiving.

Please note that in order for your clone to be bootable, the destination disk needs to be HFS formatted and have a GUID partition map. You can check this using Apple's Disk Utility program (available in your Utilties folder) before running the first clone.

To restore a bootable clone, simply boot your Mac using from your close, erase the internal disk and create a new backup with the internal disk as its destination.


Syncing or cloning of Filevault2 disks
SmartBackup can clone or sync disks protected with FileVault2. Actually FileVault2 is implemented on the filesystem level and Apps that interact with files can just work with it without requiring special support. Note that cloning FileVault2 protected disk does not make the destination protected too. You need to enable FileVault2 on the destination disk via Finder independently.


Fixing unavailable destinations
If SmartBackup shows a destination as unavailable, it means that SmartBackup could not access the destination path when it tried to load the settings. Make sure that your backup destination is mounted and available and then re-select the backup using the "destination popup button".

A backup will also become unavailable if the path has changed, perhaps because you renamed the destination folder or volume. Note that you can always use the "+" button to re-select an existing destination which has moved or been renamed. The settings for the desination will automatically be reloaded.


Archiving options
You can configure your archiving options in the options panel of your destination.



Here you can configure if and how long you want to keep deleted or changed files. When an item is archived, it is moved to a top level folder inside your destination folder called "__removed" or "__changed" and underneath there kept tidily in time-stamped folders.
You can easily find things there even by just browsing them, but the best way to look at the versions of files you have kept, is by using the "Search" button under your selected destination's icon.


Optimising the number of copy threads
You can configure the number of parallel copy threads in your backup options. The ideal number of copy threads depends on the type of disks you use at the source and destination.
  • If a single "spinning" harddisk is involved as a source or destination 2 copy threads will be fastest.
  • If source and destination are SSD/Flash based, or a RAID, 4 copy threads will give you optimum performance.
  • If you use a network backup, it depends on your setup and the type of data. Somewhere between 2-4 threads will be fastest.
  • On fast Xsan/Stornext volumes, choose the number of stripe groups available as the number of threads.


Errors
Errors during a sync are not SmartBackup bugs but usually issues with the setup, and SmartBackup just reports them.
If there are errors regarding reading files from the source or creating files on the destination, they are most likely permission issues. You can investigate the folders in question to determine why SmartBackup is not allowed to copy those files.

If the folders are invisible system folders with special permissions (like for instance on the root level of a volume) and you do not actually want a backup of them anyway, you can also exclude them.

If you have upgraded a backup from SmartBackup 3 and experience lots of errors, please make sure that you did not accidentally run a SuperUser backup in normal mode, which will lead to permission related errors.

If you need help debugging the issue, please get in touch and send us a the complete log of a single backup run showing the issue. You can get to the log using the "Log Window" menu item.


Commandline mode
If you want to integrate SmartBackup with your scripts or call it from the terminal or ssh session, you can start a sync to a configured SmartBackup destination via the commandline mode. Simply call SmartBackups application binary with the path to your configured destination as a parameter.

/Applications/SmartBackup/Contents/MacOS/SmartBackup /path/to/destination/folder

In commandline mode, SmartBackup does not launch the user interface and also works when no user is logged in. As you would expect, the exit status reflects if the backup went well.


Upgrading a backup from SmartBackup 3
SmartBackup 4 supports upgrading existing SmartBackup 3 backups. To upgrade, re-select an existing SmartBackup 3 destination in SmartBackup 4 (same as you would select a new destination). Your sources and settings will be loaded and upgraded automatically. Please note that SmartBackup 4 does no longer support using Spotlight smartfolders as backup sources or excludes. If you used such folders in your source configuration, they will not apply as a search but instead just backup the smartfolder itself. Please also check the rest of your sync and archiving options before starting the first sync.


Issues caused by bugs in 10.12 Sierra
If you run SmartBackup on 10.12-10.12.2 Sierra and perform a backup from an external volume to an external volume while having the advanced option "rebuild source path inside destination" enabled, the sync will fail creating only folders but no files and show a "Copy failed" error for each file. This is caused by a bug of Sierra where it does not let any application create files on an external volume inside a top level folder called "Volumes".
This issue has been fixed in 10.12.3.

We also occasionally experience an issue where applications lose their "preferences" on launch. In case of SmartBackup this can be activation and destination path information. Luckily your sync's settings are stored inside the destination so you can simply re-select your destination and continue. Automated backups or commandline mode are not affected. Make sure to install SmartBackup in your Applications folder and that only one copy of SmartBackup is installed on your Mac.



Get in touch
If you have questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to get in touch via the support e-mail:

support - at - solesignal.com