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Please read the Legal Notice at bottom of this document before proceeding! This software can be used destructively if not understood.

Backuplist+ is donate-ware. Let me know if it works for you, and if you like it. There is now a Donate "Nag" box in the progress window just as a reminder. If you make a donation, you will receive a registration number that make the reminder go away.

To donate go to the Help menu > Donate, or click Donations here.

Backuplist+ is a wrapper application for the powerful unix tool rsync. Most of the settings and options you choose are supplied to rsync at launch time and processed by rsync. The rsync application is embedded inside backuplist+ and runs from there. Rysnc 3.1.1 is an ongoing open source project in development and you can submit reports, ask questions, at the rsync website. I have customized this build of rsync for OSX.

Backuplist+ is different in several ways!

Compatibility: Version 8.5 is compatible only with OS 10.7 Lion and higher. For earlier OS versions go to main page and download version 8.4 or earlier of backupList+

For earlier versions of backupList+, use the built in Help menu indicated below

Note: Help is also available from the Help pages (go to Help menu > backuplist+ Help)


What's new with Backuplist+ 8.5

Backupist+ 8.5 is an necessary update for all users with OS 10.8 and above.

The following changes have been made:


Important considerations for previous users of backupList+:

You need to understand the changes to version 8.5 that will affect how you use backupList+ now.

Root access

If you wish to make a system clone, copy files not owned by you, or schedule backups, you need to re-enter your administrator password in version 8.5. The security handling of root access for rsync has changed so backupList+ will not work properly without doing this. Your password is not seen by anyone or visible in the code but used by the System to enable the root access for a helper tool to run rsync and associated tasks as root.

Scheduled backups

BackupList+ now uses a separate Scheduler app which resides in your menu bar as a background application. It is just a timer which checks in with the main application for changes to any scheduled backups and launches them at the appropriate time. To engage the new scheduler, if you are an existing backupList+ user, you need to check your scheduling options for existing backups sets. Un-checking and re-checking the "schedule backup" box will bring up dialog asking if you want to add the Scheduler app to your logins. See more about this in scheduling...

Identification of backup Volumes

backupList+ now uses the disk UUID (unique identifier) to verify that the destination is the correct one. Issues can often arise when there are multiple disks with same name or badly ejected disks that leave "ghost" folders. You can turn this off in preferences and return to using just the disk name to verify. You should re-enter the destination for all backup tasks that were previously set to enable this feature.

More intuitive options

The backupList+ options have been changed to reflect which type of backup you are performing. Every effort is made on this upgrade to update your settings to reflect the new format. You should definitely check your options and settings on first launch to be sure they are what you intended from before. The new format is much more intuitive, especially for novice users, but all the old options are still there, including the expert options. See Settings for more details...


New Features

There is now a separate column in the source list for backup sets (now called "tasks") which shows the last backup made for that particular task. This is also reflected in the top banner under "destination" on the lower right edge. Also the Scheduler app which is added to the main user menu bar when scheduling backups also has a new column showing the last backups made for each backup task or set.

The new main window with backup stats!

The new Scheduler window

The new Recovery HD option

The new archive option ( with trimming! )



Backup basics...

The backuplist+ main window

To create a simple backup session;

  1. Add a new backup task (set) and give it a name. All tasks must have unique names. See below about "backup tasks"
  2. Add the source files you want to backup in the source window.
  3. Drag the folder disk or volume you want as the destination, into the destination text field.
  4. You can then set the type of backup and any options in the settings panel ( press the little gear button.)

You can also enter your administrator password and global preferences in the Preferences window.

Backup tasks

Just click the "Add" (+) button under the sets list in the main window

...or use the File menu.

You can edit the sets name in the sets list by clicking on it pressing "enter".

Each set must have a unique name and has:

1. Its own source files in the source list.
2. A destination in the destination text field.
3. A set of preferences in the settings panel.


Preferences window


Basic Settings for all backup tasks

  1. Entering your password... backupList+ often needs an administrator password to back up System files or other files which you don't have permission to copy. The System will prompt you for the password and backupList+ can then run a special helper tool as root which in turn runs rsync with root permissions. You could, for example, backup your entire home folder without needing administrator privileges. If you wish to make a Clone of your System however, you will need an administrator password to copy the System files correctly and to be able to restore your computer from that clone later. To use the archive option, delete files and other tasks, backupList+ will usually need root access.

  2. Check for updates... backupList+ will check for updates daily. Important to keep things up to date!

  3. Slow down rsync... rsync uses a lot of CPU and while you can do other work, it is best to let it run when you are not working on your computer and especially not on large files since their transfer could be affected or even corrupted. This will run rsync a little "slower" which may make a difference in the performance of other tasks during backup.

  4. Use File list... this will cause rsync to first make a list of all source files to be copied which will give an exact file total count for more accurate progress. It will add from a few seconds up to a few minutes (for very large backups) to backup time.

  5. Use name only... backupList+ will use just the name, and not the disk UUID, to identify a volume as destination. This is good if you make backups to alternate volumes with the same name as they will have different UUID's and backupList+ will just use the name to identify the volume. By default, backupList+ now uses a unique identifier (called UUID) to identify the backup volume or disk. This means that if you have disks with the same name it uses the one that you originally selected for the backup task. Besides duplicate name issues there can sometimes be "ghost" volumes (often due to ejecting a disk the wrong way) which cause the backup to go to a hidden folder instead of the intended volume. Using the default UUID solves these problems. Note: if left unchecked, when you erase a volume or disk, it gives it a new UUID so backupList will tell you you must re-enter the destination for that backup task in the main window

  6. Run backups in background... this can be a bit confusing. Backups usually will run with the progress window open. Checking this box means that if you run a backup from the scheduler app (in menu bar) and the main window is closed, the backup will proceed without visible progress, in the background. Also, scheduled backups will run without a visible progress window. The menu bar icon spins when backups are running so there always is a visual clue.

  7. Use alternate rsync... backupList+ uses the latest build (version 3.1.1) of rsync. Checking this box, backupList+ will use version 3.0.9 instead. Sometimes one version works better than the other if rsync problems arise and if you report a problem I may ask you to try this option to see if it changes behavior.

  8. Animate progress window... shrinks the main window so you just see the progress bar updating while backup runs.


Settings Panel: your options for each backup set

press gear button to access the settings panel


Selecting the type of backup in the Setup window.

There are several options that affect your use of backuplist+. You first need to select which kind of backup you want. This will dictate which of the options are available in the Settings pane.

Regular Backup

This choice will use rsync to simply copy files from source to destination. Each succeeding backup will copy just the changed files. This will keep the files on the destination exactly the same as on the source. You can select options in the settings panel (see below.)

Incremental backup

Incremental backups create a complete snapshot of your source files in a dated folder on the destination. This is similar to time machine so you can go back to retrieve files from a certain date. Each backup only takes up the space of the actual changed files while the other files are copied as hard links to the originals (which take up very little space.) This means that the destination files appear exactly as the source files did at the time of backup. You select the number of incremental backups and backupList+ will prune the earliest backup when it reaches that number - thus maintaining the desired amount of snapshots at all times.

Full System Clone

This option will use rsync to create a complete copy of your internal drive, or any other volume or disk, to another disk or partition. Clones are great since if you have a drive failure you can be back up and running in no time with a complete fresh copy of your original System and personal files. Clones are also good when installing a new System or update as you can select the attached clone disk to migrate all your personal files from at the end of the System install process (you will be asked if you want to do that.)

Synchronize two folders

Does what it says. It will copy first source to destination and then in reverse, destination to source. This assure that the two folders are identical. Useful if you want to keep a folder in sync on another drive or network.

Read-Only Disk Image

This option uses the program diskutil to create a read only disk image of the source files on the destination. You can select options (see below) for the name, encryption password, or segment the image in the Settings Pane. You can also have backupList+ create a sparse bundle type of disk image which you set up under the options for regular or incremental backups (see below under Backing up to a sparse disk image.)


Once you select the type you then check the Settings window for any other options you will need

Regular Backup settings

  1. Special backup folder. Check this for backupList+ to back up files into a folder that you name in the following text field. If you un-check this box there will be no special folder created and the files will be copied directly to the destination disk or folder.
  2. Dated archive.... Check this to make a new folder for the backup files with the current date stamp on it. This means each backup will be a separate dated archive and you won't be updating the same backup folder each time. This required for incremental backups.
  3. Delete older files... This causes rsync to delete any files on the destination that are not on the source, or ones that are older than the modified version on the source. Warning! This is a destructive action and will cause loss of any data in the destination directory that is not present in the source directory. You must know what you are doing with this choice or risk data loss. You can add the "Archive" option below as a safety feature.
  4. Archive deleted files... This option create a special archive folder called "BL_Archive" in the destination. Inside, individual dated archives will be created for each backup to that destination and will save any deleted or modified files on destination to the archive folders. This option is usually used with the "delete" option above but if "delete" option is not selected it will save the modified files. I am working on a future "pruning" feature so the archives can be limited in number or size. This is added protection against accidentally deleting important files and gives you a way to go back to previous versions of deleted/changed files.
  5. Use relative paths... This will create folders on the backup that re-create the folder paths on your hard drive. For example if you are copying your Mail folder it will be copied into a sequence of folders that mimic its position on your hard drive, > Mail > Preferences > Library > Home folder

Backing up to a sparse disk image (also available for Incremental and Clone backup types)

You can have backupList+ create a sparse disk image, mount the image and then copy the source files into it. You can do this with regular, incremental or clone type backups.

Sparse disk image: Sparse images grow in size to the maximum you enter in the text field. With this option backupList+ will create the sparse image, mount it and copy the source files into it. The next time you run this backup set, backupList+ will mount the image and update the source files with any new changes. You must enter a size for the initial disk image. This should be the maximum size you think the sparse image will need. It will however only occupy the disk space of its contained files which is very nice.

Incremental Backup settings


  1. Incremental folder name: this will be the name prefix, followed by the date text, for each incremental backup
  2. Trim backup folders: You can select how many backups you wish to keep on the destination. You can trim when the number reaches a certain limit, when the destination free space falls below your limit, or when the backup is older than selected number of days.
  3. Rsync delete option. This causes rsync to delete and files on the destination that are not on the source. Warning! This is a destructive action and will cause loss of any data in the destination directory that is not present in the source directory. You must know what you are doing with this choice or risk data loss.
  4. Recreate full folder paths. This will create folders on the backup that re-create the folder paths on your hard drive. For example if you are copying your Mail folder it will be copied into a sequence of folders that mimic its position on your hard drive, > Mail > Preferences > Library > Home folder .

Full System Clone settings

  1. Create Recovery HD... If possible backupList+ will check if there is a Recovery Partition on the source disk and if so copy it to the destination disk. It will attempt to resize the source volume to create a small (650MB) partition there to receive the copied Recovery HD. The Recovery HD is created when you install a fresh OS version on a disk or volume. Normally this is not copied with the source during backups and technically is not really necessary if you are making a bootable clone from which to startup and restore files from. Some people like it for extra insurance though, should something go wrong and a volume is unable to mount as a viable system. To test the recovery HD, startup holding the option key to select it in the list of startup volumes. Or Press Command-R at startup to automatically start from Recovery HD where you will have options to reinstall the OS, run Disk Utility or other tasks. Note: this option only runs when the clone is started manually, and not from a scheduled backup. There are times when the Recovery HD will fail to be created for various reasons and you can either try again or run the clone without checking this option.
  2. Delete older files... This causes rsync to delete any files on the destination that are not on the source, or ones that are older than the modified version on the source. Warning! This is a destructive action and will cause loss of any data in the destination directory that is not present in the source directory. You must know what you are doing with this choice or risk data loss. You can add the "Archive" option below as a safety feature.
  3. Archive deleted files... This option create a special archive folder called "BL_Archive" in the destination. Inside, individual dated archives will be created for each backup to that destination and will save any deleted or modified files on destination to the archive folders. This option is usually used with the "delete" option above but if "delete" option is not selected it will save the modified files. I am working on a future "Prune" feature so the archives can be limited in number or size. This is added protection against accidentally deleting important files. Note: using this option for a full System clone will archive many system files that change constantly possibly resulting big archives of large files that are of no use as the clone will use the newer files and not archived ones. This may not be desirable. If you do a regular type backup of your personal files, home folder etc., this option will preserve just your own files that are deleted or modified.


Clone options

  1. Clone using rysnc (updates): will perform a full system copy to the destination disk and update any changed files.
  2. Clone using rsync - erase destination: will erase the destination disk before performing a fresh clean backup of your system. Note: This will erase the destination volume completely which means all data will be lost!
  3. Block level clone: This option uses apple's asr to perform a block level clone which will make an exact replica of the source drive to the destination. It is usually much faster and will make an exact replica, including any bugs or issues with the source volume's system. Note: This will erase the source volume completely which means all data will be lost! for this type of clone operation, both source and destination volumes must be un-mountable so you must be booted from another volume than the source and destination volumes. The asr option does not always work for various reasons and if that happens you should do a regular type clone (using rsync.) Each type has it's pros and cons. The rsync clone recreates a fresh folder structure and if the source volume is having issues, may be the better choice. Asr will make an exact copy of the whole volume at the block level -resulting in a clone that usually looks and behaves just as the original. Sometimes an rsync clone requires that you reset certain application preferences though that is quite rare.


Synchronize two folders settings

Read Only Disk Image settings

Read Only disk image: This will create a read-only disk image from the files/folders you have listed in your backuplist+ source list. It will use a moderate form of compression. This kind of disk image is created exactly for the source files and can not be written to. You can use it to restore from. The above options for Name and Encryption can be used as well. You can select to segment the image and enter a size (in MB) for each segment. The segments will then be copied to your destination and can be restored by clicking on the first one. This can be useful if you want to break up some large files/folders into smaller pieces to store on dvd's.


Excluding files from backups

Using the Exclude Preference Pane

The exclude list is available for each backup set you use. You must check the "Use exclude list" check box to edit the list and enable the exclusions for the backups. The list items now apply to all files and folders listed in the main backuplist+ window.

Drag and Drop files and folders into the exclude list window

You can exclude certain folders and files from your backup session by adding them to the exclude list. They must be added as exclude patterns. If you don't want to enter them yourself you can just drag and drop folders and files onto the list and backuplist+ will create the correct exclude pattern to use. Each item needs to be on a separate line and you should avoid extra spaces between lines. The exclusions all begin from the level of the source directory. If you are unsure about writing your own, see the appendix: Exclude Patterns.


Exclude list for backup set: Check this box to tell backuplist+ to exclude the list items from being copied to the destination.

Delete Excluded: checking this box will cause any items on the destination that are listed in the exclude list to be deleted, even if they already exist there prior to backup.

Exclude Patterns (see apendix at bottom of page. You can also consult the rsync man pages for info on exclud)e patterns.



Scheduling backups

When you Select to have backupList+ schedule a backup it will ask you if you want to add the backupList+ Scheduler app to your login items. You must do this so the scheduler will launch and remain open after login. The Scheduler checks the settings you have set for scheduled backups in the backupList+ main application. It does this every minute and if there is a scheduled backup it launches the backupList+ application and runs that backup.

The Scheduler app will appear in your main menu bar. See more about the Scheduler app below...

Scheduling backups

You can schedule backup sessions for a particular time of day, day of the week, or after startup. You access the schedule window by clicking "schedule" on the tab bar.

Note: Your Computer must be awake for scheduled backups to happen. You can alternately schedule backups after startup or set your computer to wake up before the backup happens. You can do this in the Energy Saver Panel in System Preferences. See "Backup on startup" ( below ).

Schedule backups

Check this box to tell backupList+ to look for scheduling times.

Daily, Weekly

Check to schedule a backup every day, or on a specific day(s) of the week, You can then select the time of day or "After first startup or sleep". Check "Weekly" and select a day to make a once-a-week backup session


Check to schedule a backup every hour or indicate a number in the box for how many hours between backups.

Once a day - After first startup or sleep

Check to schedule a backup once per day after startup or sleep or midnight, whichever comes first. This will insure that backupList+ works - if your Mac is in sleep mode it won't wake up for a scheduled specific time. To use the scheduler while the Mac is in sleep mode go to System Preferences > Energy Saver, press the Schedule… button, and set the Mac to wake up a few minutes before you have scheduled a time. For example, If the scheduled backup is 8:10AM then set the Mac to wake from sleep at 8 AM. It's easy and it works!

Scheduled backups when no disk is present

Note: If you select "After first startup or sleep" or "Hourly", backupList+ will check for the presence of a backup disk and if it is not present continue to check until it is mounted. This way, the backup will continue once the disk is mounted and then the next backup will occur at the designated time.

If a disk is not present for a scheduled backup time (via the time clock) you will see a dialog saying the disk is not present and you can then either mount the disk and try again or cancel the process.

Using the Scheduler application from the menu bar

From there you can launch backupList+ itself, run and of your backup sets, or see the list of scheduled backups.

The Scheduling window

You can remove any scheduled backups here or edit them to change the date, frequency or type.



Expert options

Customizing rsync commands with expert options

If you are familiar with using Terminal and writing UNIX commands, or if you want to learn, you can enter your own rsync options in the text field provided. Use caution since these options can be powerful and have unexpected results if you make a slight error. First you should read thersync man page at the Samba Rsync website. Unless you check the expert options check box, backupList+ uses the default rsync options which it determines based on your system and destination volume type. If you check expert options and enter anything in the text field, it will replace all rsync options so be careful to enter the correct options.

BackupList+ supplies the beginning path to rsync and the source and destination paths and > output file at end

The following rsync options are handled by backupList+. DO NOT include these options in the expert options string. Options below followed by parentheses can be chosen via the normal settings panel.

Options always handled by backupList+

beginning path to rsync

source paths

destination path


Options handled by you in the settings panel

(you can override these by leaving them unchecked in Settings and adding them manually to the expert options string.)

--delete (delete option in settings)

--link-dest (incremental option in settings)

--backup and --backup-dir (backup or Archive options in settings)

--exclude-from --delete-excluded (exclude list in settings)

Options that can be included in expert options text field.

See the complete list of rsync options on the rsync man page.

Also note that you always need a space between each option in the string.

Default options for OS X Systems backing up to a Mac formatted disk should always include:

"-aHAXN --fileflags --stats -v"

The standard options used by backupList:

"-aHAXN ---fileflags --force-change --protect-decmpfs --numeric-id --protect-args --stats -v"

-a (preserves most file attributes, resource forks an other things)

-H (preserves hard links)

-A (preserves Acl's" or access control lists)

-X (preserves "Xattr's" or extended attributes)

-N (also called --crtimes) (preserves creation dates)

--fileflags (preserves file flags and locked files etc.)

--force-change (needed to preserve immutable flags- see man page for more options)

--protect-decmpfs (needed to preserve the new file compression on OS 10.6 Snow Leopard)

--stats (gives a stats report at the end of files transferred etc...)

-v ( adds more progress information to the output- -vvv will give verbose logging information for debugging)

you can customize the options by writing your own.

" -aAX -v " for instance, would just save Acl's and Xattr's but not creation dates and hard links. This might increase speed of transfer but sacrifice those aspects.

If you wish to customize one of the built in options such as the exclude option, you must leave the exlcude list unchecked in Settings Panel and add it your self to the options string.

" -aHAXN --fileflags --protect-decmpfs --exclude=/path/to/files/to/be/excluded/*"

this would add an exclude pattern which would exclude files matching the pattern (or path) indicated. To use this option you must read and be familiar with "Exclude patterns" in the rsync man pages.

Rysnc is extremely versatile and can be confiigured for almost anything you want. it can also transfer files between different types of operating systems.

Include paths

If you check this box, you must supply the full range of options as well as the paths for source and destination. This is useful if you are doing more complicated rsync mirroring on a remote machine for example, or some network situations.

backuplist+ will supply the initial rsync path and the output path- you must supply the rest of the command line. Again, only try this with a good understanding of rsync command line usage.

A typical rsync command would look like this:

/path/to/rsync -aHAXN --fileflags -v --progress /path/to/source/folder /path/to/destination/folder &> path/to/output file

So you would write in the text field:

-aHAXN --fileflags -v --progress /yourpath/to/source/folder /yourpath/to/destination/folder



To restore files

Note: External drives are inexpensive now so the BEST policy is to always have a FULL SYSTEM CLONE on reserve in addition to your regular backup files. If anything ever happens to your hard drive, you can be up and running in minutes.

1. If you wish to replace a few files or folders within your home folder, just drag them from the backup folder to the original source folder on your Hard drive, replacing the originals.

2. If you wish to restore your entire Home Folder, you can drag the contents of the backup Home folder (not the folder itself) to the Home folder on your source drive. Sometimes it works better if you drag a few items at a time.... some files may not allow you to copy them due to permissions issues.

3. Alternately (and better), you can easily use backuplist+ to restore the backup Home folder. Just add the backup Home folder to the backuplist+ list window and select your original Users Folder as the destination - that will copy the whole backup version to your Users folder replacing the original Home folder inside it. Important note: you must un check the box named "Backup to folder" in the settings panel for this to work, otherwise backuplist+ creates a backup folder "mybackup" (or other name in the box) in the Users folder and puts your Homer folder in there.... important!

4. In the event of a crash where you must re-install your whole system fresh- there are two ways to go.

a. If you have a "bootable" clone of your entire system you can copy that to your Hard drive. You must start up from the external clone drive and then reformat and erase your Hard Drive. To start from the external drive, startup while holding down the C key and choose the correct drive to boot from the dialog. Or you can select "Startup Drive" in System Preferences. Then you add the external clone drive, or partition, to the backuplist+ list window and select your Hard Drive as the destination. Press backup and, if all goes well, you have an exact copy of your original drive back in place and can reboot, this time choosing your internal Hard Drive to start up from (hold down the option key again or use System Preferences > Startup Disk.) If you have a copy that is not bootable, startup from your original system install disks and follow the same procedure as above.

b. If you don't have a complete copy of your system, you must reinstall your system from your install disks and go through the process of setting up your new accounts and name your accounts with the same short names (the names of the Home folders) as before. Once set up you can replace the contents of your new Home folder as above, with the contents of the backup home folder. Again the key here is not to replace the Home folder itself, just the contents. This method will of course create a brand new, fresh, System rather than a copy of your old one (with all its quirks...).

Note: With OS 10.6 Snow Leopard the installation process has become quite seamless. For a smooth transition, make a clone of your system ( Even better - make two clones to separate drives!) and check it to be sure it is fully functional and perfect. Then install the new System. In the installer first restart to boot from the install CD. Then go to the installer Utilities menu and use disk utility to erase your internal Hard drive. Then return to the installer and install the new OS and at the end where it asks if you want to transfer your data from another drive ,click yes and select your backup clone drive which must be attached and mounted of course. Then you will have fresh clean new system installed with all your stuff exactly as you left it. If erasing your internal drive is too scary then skip the erase part and just use the archive and install feature of the Installer.

To make a "boot-able" clone of your whole system

Backuplist+ makes system clones best to clean (empty) disks or partitions.
You must leave the check box "Backup to folder", in the settings panel, unchecked.
Backuplist+ will copy your Hard drive to the destination and make it bootable.

Prior to OS 10.5X Leopard, only Firewire external disks can be made bootable. With Leopard, USB disks work too!

Making a clone:

1. This involves copying the contents of your entire Hard drive to another drive that can then be used to start up from

2. Repair permissions on your internal Hard Drive or select "repair permissions" in the Pre-clone popup button in Preferences.

3. Erase and reformat the external drive ( HFS Standard, or journaled, format ). It is also good to create a partition on the external drive a bit bigger than your internal Drive (2Gb +-) and be sure it is formatted and clean. You can also select this in the Pre-clone popup button in Preferences.

4. Be sure "Ignore Ownership..." is unchecked on the destination disk. See the note below for more…

5. Drag your new clean external drive into the destination text field.

6. Drag your Hard drive into the backuplist+ source window and press "Backup"!

7.. Backuplist+ will make a full copy of your Hard drive preserving everything. A 100 Gb drive takes less than two hours on my 2.4 GHz intel core duo Macbook pro.

8. To test it: Go to System Preferences > Startup Disk and select the new backup system in the list and restart. It should boot up as normal (usually takes a few seconds more).

Note: If you are backing up to an external volume such as firewire drive, flash drive, zip disk or others, you MUST be sure "Ignore ownership on this volume" is left unchecked. Click on the icon for the drive and choose "Get Info" from File menu (command-I). At the bottom of the "Get Info" window you will see the "Ignore ownership on this volume" check box Be sure it left unchecked or all your permissions will be changed to those of the external volume!


Backup strategies

Possible backup items might include

Any files you want to save or protect

Your applications folder
Your Documents folder
Your Pictures folder
Your Music folder
Your Preferences folder (contains files needed by iTunes, iPhoto, Mail, Safari, etc....)

or Your whole Home folder (which contains all of the above, except the Applications folder)

Generally you backup files that you don't want to lose in the event of a hard drive crash or other disaster. It is also good to have copies of data that changes often so if you accidentally delete something or make some mistake, you have an older copy to return to. Many times I have wished i had an older version of some file that I have "messed" up.

A good scenario could be to make a whole clone of your system once a month or more ( if you know it is in good working order) and then daily or weekly copies of your home folder or personal files folders and preferences.

It is not absolutely necessary back up your operating system since you can always boot from your installation disks in case of a bad crash. The important files to have are the preference files that store your own settings for system appearance and other behaviors. Some people though, like me , make a complete copy of there system called a Clone from which you can restore everything perfectly if you do have a disk failure or other destructive act of nature. Backuplist does this too!

it may be wise to make some hard copies from time to time onto CD or DVD. It is wise to make hard copy of all your data occasionally since even an external hard drive can crash. Lightning does strike!

Incremental versus "single folder" backups

•The new rsync is excellent for Incremental backups. Incremental backups, also called "snapshots," use multiple folders and are good for saving a series of backup copies in case you want to refer back to a file (that you have changed often) in a previous state.

• The new rsync is also excellent for backups to the same folder! Single folder backups (don't check "incremental backups") back up your files to the same folder each time, only copying those files that have been modified. This is good for one time backups or when you just want one current updated folder of some particular folder or item. If you back up to the same folder it will only update the files that have changed (again rsync is very fast with this).



There are several logs that can be accessed to tell you more about a backup operation:

Show Log Window
This is the backuplist+ log which shows the last several backups, their times, info etc..

Show sync output Log
This is the rsync log which shows the sync progress. If you enter your password in the Globals Settings panel, this log will be found in your Home Folder > Library > Logs folder and is called rsynclog.log. It will show live updated progress of the file transfer and any sync errors that may occur. Many of these errors are not fatal or important to the outcome of transfer, though some are…

If you do not enter your password the log will be found in your Home Folder > Library >Application Support/Backuplist folder. It will show the complete transfer but is not "live" you have to close the log and reopen to see the changes.

Show Debug Log
This is the debug log and is useful mostly to me if there is a problem with backuplist+ and we need to find it. This log will be found in your Home Folder > Library >Application Support/Backuplist folder and is called backuplist.log.You can send me this log if there is a problem and it will help me to pinpoint the bug.

Show scheduling
This shows a log of the current scheduled backups, their times etc...



Appendix A:

To restore iPhoto, iTunes, Mail, Safari etc...

These operations can be tricky.
Warning! Always have backups before doing any of these things! You have been warned.

If you restore your whole system there is no need for these tactics but to restore individual applications like iTunes, you also need to restore the preferences files that they need.

You can use backuplist+ to restore your iTunes library, or even copy it to another computer.

Make a backup to an external drive of:

In your Home folder >Music folder
iTunes folder - backup the contents of the folder or the whole folder itself.

In your Home folder > Library > Preferences folder (if you use ipod)
and any other .plist files with "iTunes" in the name

To restore or move: Replace the iTunes folder in your new Music folder with the backup copy, or copy the contents into it. You can just drag these back and click "replace" or use backuplist+ to do it, carefully selecting the correct source and destinations. Remember, backuplist+ copies any folders in your source list (not just the contents) to the destination folder so if you want to copy the whole iTunes folder back into the Music folder, select the Music folder as the destination and the iTunes folder as source. Get it? This is a very important point.

Replace all the preference files in the new Home folder > Library > Preferences folder

You can use backuplist+ to restore your iPhoto library, or even copy it to another computer.

Follow the same directions as for iTunes but copy the following items

In your Home folder >Pictures folder
iPhoto Library -
Note: This is actually a folder but you can not access the contents (unless you Control click and select "Show Package contents"

In your Home folder > Library > Preferences folder
and any other .plist files with "iPhoto" in the name


You can use backuplist+ to restore your Mail email messages and settings, or even copy it to another computer.

Follow the same directions as for iTunes but copy the following items

In your Home folder > Library > Preferences folder
Mail Folder

Replace all these preference files and the Mail folder in the new Home folder > Library > Preferences folder

You can use backuplist+ to restore your Safari settings bookmarks etc, or even copy it to another computer.

Follow the same directions as for iTunes but copy the following items

In your Home folder > Library > Preferences folder
Safari Folder

Replace all the preference files and the Safari folder in the new Home folder > Library > Preferences folder


follow the same procedure, replacing all the relevant folders and preference files for any application.


Appendix B:

Adding System or Application preferences


This feature is useful if you don't have a lot of space on your storage device and want to save all your essential preference files. Selecting "Add System preferences" or "Add Application preferences" will automatically collect all the most important system and application preferences for you. You don't need this feature if you backup your whole Home folder, or Library/Preferences folder since they include all these files any ways. I have left this feature though since it does give you the ability to "collect" these important restore files in a place that easily shows you how to replace them. Preference files can reside in any of four different directories on your Mac.

Your personal System preferences reside in Home Folder/ Library and Home Folder/ Library/Preferences and include:

Mail (includes all your mail messages and settings)

Safari (bookmarks and settings)

Address Book (Addresses, settings etc.)

Fonts (fonts you installed yourself)




Many other individual system preference files that you would need to restore your settings will be backed up too. The two folders for System preferences and Application preferences appear in the list with an asterisk and represent all these numerous files. The files themselves don't appear in the list since there are too many of them ( the folders with an asterisk are symbolic and just represent them.)


To edit the Application Preferences:


In the File menu you can select "Edit Application list" and add or delete the name of any applications you commonly use (third party applications only, such as Adobe or Filemaker etc, other than the Apple applications that come with your Mac.) You can then select "Edit Application Preferences" to edit that list which is a list of the actual file paths that have been scanned. Delete whole lines to remove them and don't add any extra punctuation.

You can also view the complete System Preferences list. Go to File menu > System Preferences list. This list cannot be edited but gives you an idea of what it contains. The combined size of these files is small so you can easily add this group to your list (Add System preferences by pressing the "A" button in the main window.)


Trouble Shooting

If the destination folder appears empty:

1. Be sure the destination drive has enough free space for the backup, otherwise the backup will possibly freeze midway. Many people have said their backup folder was empty because of this!

2. Be sure you have entered the correct destination paths in the destination text field and the "Backup to folder" text field in the settings panel.

3. If you are backing up to an external drive, check the hidden Volumes folder. This is a known problem when copying files to an external disk. Sometimes, if you pull the plug accidentally on a drive, or for no apparent reason, the Volumes folder will contain left over aliases of drives that are no longer present. This can result in data being copied into them instead of your desired disk, thus your hard drive mysteriously fills up with "hidden" backups! To check the folder go to the "GO" menu in the finder menu bar and select "Go to folder" and type "/Volumes" in the search filed. This will bring up the hidden folder. I have included a menu item called "Show Volumes folder" in the Window menu, or the Help menu if you are in Background mode.

When a backing up with rsync , the progress bar may seem to progress very fast at first and then slow down towards the end and the run. You can tell where the backup is by the names of the files being transfered. This is due to incremental recursion which scan files in batches rather than upfront, saving much memory and time! You can change this to get more accurate bar readings but it will be much slower. I made this the default for obvious reasons!

If backuplist+ freezes and you can't cancel it, force quit (command -option- esc) or restart computer. You will have to also force quit rsync and to do that you must open Activity Monitor (in the Utilities folder) and select rsync in the list "all processes" and click the Quit button at the top of the window. Due to limitations of applescript the cancel feature can get stuck sometimes though we have gone a long way to prevent this. If backuplist+ is in background-only mode, you must open activity monitor and quit rsync and backuplist+ from there, or restart.

If Backuplist+ crashes or you get error messages, you can usually fix the problem by trashing the .plist file. It is a good idea to make a backup of this file anyways, when you have your list and preferences set up, so you can restore your settings if there is a crash. The .plist file is in your Home Folder > Library > Preferences folder and is called "com.rdutoit.blist.plist". Just Quit Backuplist+ app, move this file to trash and restart Backuplist+ app. A new .plist file will be generated. You then need to set up your backup sets again.

If you are not the sole user of your Mac, or have not enabled permissions for Read/write of certain folders, you may not be able to back up or copy files in those locations. You can enter your password (OS10.4X and above) in the settings panel which will allow most files to be copied. See Mac help about enabling permissions. You should always, however, be able to access your Home Folder or any local disks you have mounted.

This application has been tested and should not cause any bad "side effects" other than not functioning properly due to unforeseen circumstances. Always be careful copying over important files!


You can email me by selecting "email support" in the help menu. Don't hesitate to ask any questions or let me know how it is working, or not, for you.

Email me at

go to Backuplist+ website

Donate to backuplist+ software cause

or send to:

Legal Notice:


Use at your own risk. The creator of this application, Robert DuToit, is not responsible for any damage to your computer or data resulting from use of this product.



Appendix C: Exclude Patterns


You can learn about exclude patterns from the rsync man page. Basically the exclude patterns are UNIX paths that begin at the root of transfer. Do not write your own unless you know what you are doing. Backuplist+ does this for you via drag and drop!

If you are backing up /Users/Home folder/Documents and want to exclude a folder in Documents called "Taxes" you would enter simply


If you want to exclude a folder called "Federal" within "Taxes" you would enter


These paths begin at the root which is the Documents folder. The asterisk * is called a wild card and means anything after the "Federal" directory is also excluded.

If you include the last slash before the asterisk, it will exclude everything inside the folder but not the folder itself.


There is a lot more to exclude patterns. You can exclude any type of file with a certain name or extension. If you want to exclude any .jpg image from the Federal folder, you would put another asterisk before the".jpg" This would exclude file ending in .jpg since the wild card (asterisk) allows for any characters that come before, such as "Taxes/ Federal/taxfile.jpg"



If you just drag the files into the list, the excluded files will be specific to your backup source folders. To globally exclude files such as .jpg or hidden .DS_Store files, just add an asterisk before their name in the exclude list:





The following is a brief description of rsync wildcard patterns.

For ADVANCED rsync use see the rsync man page.

Note: All rsync patterns are case sensitive, "d" and "D" are different.

rsync chooses between doing a simple string match and wildcard matching by checking if the pattern contains one of three wildcard characters:

1) A "*" matches any non-empty path component (it stops at slashes "/")
Use "**" to match anything, including slashes.

2) A "?" matches any single character, except a slash "/"

3) A "[" introduces a character class,
such as [a-z] or [[:alpha:]] or [[:space:]]

Wildcard Function
-------- --------
* Matches none, one, or multiple characters
? Matches exactly one character
[a-f] Matches a range of characters
(e.g. all characters "a" "b" "c" "d" "e" "f")
[aeiou] Matches a choice of characters
(e.g. include only characters "a" "e" "i" "o" "u")
[^xyz] Excludes characters ("^" means not)
(e.g. exclude only characters "x" "y" "z")
[[:space:]] Matches a space character

Example Result
------- ------
demo* Everything starting with "demo"
*ing Everything ending with "ing"
ns*.h Everything starting with "ns" and ending with ".h"
?ouse All words with five characters and ending with "ouse"
(e.g. "mouse" or "house")
[a-ez]* Everything starting with "a", "b", "c", "d", "e", or "z"
[d-fk-j]*[gh] Everything starting with "d", "e", "f", "k", "i", or "j"
and ending with "g" or "h"
[^be]* Everything not starting with "b" or "e"

When a file is duplicated by the MacOS it adds the word "copy" to the file name. Sometimes it in just before the file extension and sometimes it is the last word in the file name. A space is also added before the word "copy". A space is a special character that separates options, so use "[[:space:]]" instead.


Matches "diary copy.doc" "diary.copy.rtf" "diary-copy.txt"

Matches "diary copy.doc"
Does not match "diary.copy.rtf" "diary-copy.txt"

Matches "diary jan2009.doc copy"

Matches "diary jan2009.doc copy 1" "diary jan2009.doc copy 99"

In a wildcard pattern, a backslash "\" can be used to escape a wildcard character, but it is matched literally when no wildcards are present.

\* Matches only "*", the "\" escapes the wildcard "*"
*\*?oney\** Matches "the *honey* bee.rtf "my *money*.xls"

An excerpt from the man pages is below. You should be familiar with regular expressions before using them - they are powerful tools but could cause loss of important data if you make a mistake!

Rsync man page on EXCLUDE PATTERNS

The exclude and include patterns specified to rsync allow for flexible
selection of which files to transfer and which files to skip.

Rsync builds an ordered list of include/exclude options as specified on
the command line. Rsync checks each file and directory name against
each exclude/include pattern in turn. The first matching pattern is
acted on. If it is an exclude pattern, then that file is skipped. If it
is an include pattern then that filename is not skipped. If no matching
include/exclude pattern is found then the filename is not skipped.

The filenames matched against the exclude/include patterns are relative
to the "root of the transfer". If you think of the transfer as a sub-
tree of names that are being sent from sender to receiver, the root is
where the tree starts to be duplicated in the destination directory.
This root governs where patterns that start with a / match (see below).

Because the matching is relative to the transfer-root, changing the
trailing slash on a source path or changing your use of the --relative
option affects the path you need to use in your matching (in addition
to changing how much of the file tree is duplicated on the destination
system). The following examples demonstrate this.

Let's say that we want to match two source files, one with an absolute
path of "/home/me/foo/bar", and one with a path of "/home/you/bar/baz".
Here is how the various command choices differ for a 2-source transfer:

Example cmd: rsync -a /home/me /home/you /dest
+/- pattern: /me/foo/bar
+/- pattern: /you/bar/baz
Target file: /dest/me/foo/bar
Target file: /dest/you/bar/baz

Example cmd: rsync -a /home/me/ /home/you/ /dest
+/- pattern: /foo/bar (note missing "me")
+/- pattern: /bar/baz (note missing "you")
Target file: /dest/foo/bar
Target file: /dest/bar/baz

Example cmd: rsync -a --relative /home/me/ /home/you /dest
+/- pattern: /home/me/foo/bar (note full path)
+/- pattern: /home/you/bar/baz (ditto)
Target file: /dest/home/me/foo/bar
Target file: /dest/home/you/bar/baz

Example cmd: cd /home; rsync -a --relative me/foo you/ /dest
+/- pattern: /me/foo/bar (starts at specified path)
+/- pattern: /you/bar/baz (ditto)
Target file: /dest/me/foo/bar
Target file: /dest/you/bar/baz

The easiest way to see what name you should include/exclude is to just
look at the output when using --verbose and put a / in front of the
name (use the --dry-run option if you're not yet ready to copy any

Note that, when using the --recursive (-r) option (which is implied by
-a), every subcomponent of every path is visited from the top down, so
include/exclude patterns get applied recursively to each subcomponent.
The exclude patterns actually short-circuit the directory traversal
stage when rsync finds the files to send. If a pattern excludes a par-
ticular parent directory, it can render a deeper include pattern inef-
fectual because rsync did not descend through that excluded section of
the hierarchy.

Note also that the --include and --exclude options take one pattern
each. To add multiple patterns use the --include-from and --exclude-
from options or multiple --include and --exclude options.

The patterns can take several forms. The rules are:

o if the pattern starts with a / then it is matched against the
start of the filename, otherwise it is matched against the end
of the filename. This is the equivalent of a leading ^ in regu-
lar expressions. Thus "/foo" would match a file called "foo" at
the transfer-root (see above for how this is different from the
filesystem-root). On the other hand, "foo" would match any file
called "foo" anywhere in the tree because the algorithm is
applied recursively from top down; it behaves as if each path
component gets a turn at being the end of the file name.

o if the pattern ends with a / then it will only match a direc-
tory, not a file, link, or device.

o if the pattern contains a wildcard character from the set *?[
then expression matching is applied using the shell filename
matching rules. Otherwise a simple string match is used.

o the double asterisk pattern "**" will match slashes while a sin-
gle asterisk pattern "*" will stop at slashes.

o if the pattern contains a / (not counting a trailing /) or a
"**" then it is matched against the full filename, including any
leading directory. If the pattern doesn't contain a / or a "**",
then it is matched only against the final component of the file-
name. Again, remember that the algorithm is applied recursively
so "full filename" can actually be any portion of a path below
the starting directory.

o if the pattern starts with "+ " (a plus followed by a space)
then it is always considered an include pattern, even if speci-
fied as part of an exclude option. The prefix is discarded
before matching.

o if the pattern starts with "- " (a minus followed by a space)
then it is always considered an exclude pattern, even if speci-
fied as part of an include option. The prefix is discarded
before matching.

o if the pattern is a single exclamation mark ! then the current
include/exclude list is reset, removing all previously defined

The +/- rules are most useful in a list that was read from a file,
allowing you to have a single exclude list that contains both include
and exclude options in the proper order.

Remember that the matching occurs at every step in the traversal of the
directory hierarchy, so you must be sure that all the parent directo-
ries of the files you want to include are not excluded. This is par-
ticularly important when using a trailing '*' rule. For instance, this
won't work:

+ /some/path/this-file-will-not-be-found
+ /file-is-included
- *

This fails because the parent directory "some" is excluded by the '*'
rule, so rsync never visits any of the files in the "some" or
"some/path" directories. One solution is to ask for all directories in
the hierarchy to be included by using a single rule: --include='*/'
(put it somewhere before the --exclude='*' rule). Another solution is
to add specific include rules for all the parent dirs that need to be
visited. For instance, this set of rules works fine:

+ /some/
+ /some/path/
+ /some/path/this-file-is-found
+ /file-also-included
- *

Here are some examples of exclude/include matching:

o --exclude "*.o" would exclude all filenames matching *.o

o --exclude "/foo" would exclude a file called foo in the trans-
fer-root directory

o --exclude "foo/" would exclude any directory called foo

o --exclude "/foo/*/bar" would exclude any file called bar two
levels below a directory called foo in the transfer-root direc-

o --exclude "/foo/**/bar" would exclude any file called bar two or
more levels below a directory called foo in the transfer-root

o --include "*/" --include "*.c" --exclude "*" would include all
directories and C source files

o --include "foo/" --include "foo/bar.c" --exclude "*" would
include only foo/bar.c (the foo/ directory must be explicitly
included or it would be excluded by the "*")