Quick Introduction
APFS, FileVault2, Cloning File Metadata
SuperUser Mode
Advanced Configuration
Bootable Clones
Fixing unavailable destinations
Archiving options
Optimising the number of copy threads
Errors and Logging
Commandline mode

Quick Introduction
When using SmartBackup in macOS 10.14 or later it is recommended to add SmartBackup to:
System-Preferences -> Security&Privacy -> Full Disk Access
after installing it in the Applications folder.

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.)

After launching the App for the first time, you start by adding a destination (folder or volume) on the right side of the interface using the ADD button. (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 "Add" button. Click "Start" to start the sync.

Click the Action (Cogwheel) button under the destination title to configure the options for the currently selected sync destination. Options include archiving and scheduled automatic syncs.

Click the "Magnifying Glass" 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".

APFS, FileVault2, Cloning File Metadata
SmartBackup supports APFS as a source and destination for your file syncs and backups.

SmartBackup supports source and destination 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.

SmartBackup is designed and takes great care to preserve all mac file metadata including ACLs. Please note that to preserve some metadata (like foreign ownership) SmartBackup needs to have the appropriate permissions and needs to be run in SuperUser mode.

SuperUser Mode
In order to perform certain sync tasks (for instance syncing files that belong to different users), SmartBackup needs to run as SuperUser (root). The option to re-launch SmartBackup as SuperUser is no longer available inside SmartBackup due to changes in macOS.

You can re-launch SmartBackup as superuser in Terminal, or use this Automator workflow to relaunch: Download SuperUser Launcher

Please note that needs to be installed in /Applications for the Automator workflow to work. When launching the for the first time on 10.15 or later, you need to right-click on the App and then select Open (SmartBackupSU is not notarised).

Advanced Configuration
Each source has a "mode" popup on its right side. This popup can be set to "sync" (the default), "skip" to ignore this item during sync but not remove it from the destination, "exclude" to globally exclude this item from the sync, and "exclude matching" to globally exclude every item with this name.

If you want include a subfolder of an excluded folder, you can add it as a separate additional source set to "sync".

Sometimes you want to exclude invisible folders from your sync. 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.

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

Each destination has configurable "Options" which are accessible via the "Options" button. The options panel 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.

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.

Legacy support for HFS bootable Clones
Please note that SmartBackup does not support bootable clones of APFS volumes. It is not possible to create bootable clones with SmartBackup of 10.15 Catalina or later.

Legacy support to clone HFS volumes with 10.13 or 10.14:
  • Launch SmartBackup in SuperUser mode
  • 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 clone, erase the internal disk and create a new backup with the internal disk as its destination.

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 and Logging
Errors during a sync are usually not SmartBackup bugs but issues with a particular setup, and SmartBackup just reports them.

If there are major errors, SmartBackup will show an error alert after the sync. Minor issues and a general report of every sync is written to the SmartBackup Log which is available via the Windows menu.

If there are errors regarding reading files from the source or creating files on the destination, they are most likely permission issues. Investigate the folders in question to determine why SmartBackup is not allowed to copy those files and make sure you use SuperUser mode for syncing files that belong to other users.

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/ /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.