I wrote some time ago about metadata and the state of metadata management with existing file copying and backup utilities. At that time, ChronoSync and SuperDuper were the only games in town for automated backup and copying – and neither are proper backup/archiving programs.
However, the lovely folks at CrashPlan have released a new version that gets through the metadata test suite with flying colors. In fact, the only failure it had against Nate Gray’s Backup Bouncer suite was that it failed to preserve extended attributes on symbolic links. (I’m fairly certain nothing currently stores metadata on symlinks, but just in case, I’ve submitted a support request with CrashPlan)
I’m using CrashPlan (and the online “CrashPlan Central” service – similar to Carbonite/Mozy/BackBlaze/etc.) for a few weeks now, and I like it a lot. It manages backups from computer-to-computer (even over the Internet!), to hard disks or folders, network drives, and to their aforementioned online service. It does a great job, provides block level, de-duplicated backups, too, so your years of archives take only a minuscule amount of additional space. (Unlike, say, Time Machine, which keeps an extra copy of a file each time you change it – hence the trouble with VMWare images and Entourage’s mail archive.) It also keeps differentials going back forever, has “real time backup” for constant backups (more or less like Time Machine), encrypts the bejeezus out of everything (yes, you can have your own private encryption keys and passwords without sharing ANYTHING with CrashPlan), and (thank goodness!) automatically checks the fidelity of the backup. In other words, enterprise-grade backup for $25/year. (Or free if you don’t mind missing a few features and can put up with ads)
So now I have to give my nod to a single backup tool to use for anything other than imaging. CrashPlan cannot make a bootable clone of a drive, nor can it handle a “bare metal” restore. For that, you’ll want something like SuperDuper, Carbon Copy Cloner or (my favorite) ChronoSync. CrashPlan also cannot back up to optical media or drive sets, just logical drives. Given the price of drives and the size of files, I don’t see this as a problem. Internet backup is quickly taking the place of shuttling around optical media.