Desktop Backups

I use Time Machine for backups on the local network, and Arq for offsite.

For both, I need to exclude a few extra locations that are either transient, or easy to replicate.

  • /Applications, ~/Applications - Application binaries
  • /Library MacOS system settings
  • /System MacOS operating system
  • /private/var System cache, swap files
  • ~/Downloads Transient storage
  • ~/Library/Application Support/Steam Games
  • ~/Library/Arq Metadata about backups, will re-download from cloud storage if I need to restore backups from Arq
  • ~/Movies Transient storage when travelling
  • ~/VirtualBox VMs Disk images, should manually back up anything in there
  • ~/.asdf Binaries
  • ~/.homebrew, /usr/local Binaries
  • ~/code Programming projects, if it’s not in git it doesn’t exist (Github counts as offsite backup) - excluding the whole thing means I don’t need to deal with direnv/logs/node_modules/vendor/cache/whatever else individually, and some of those get out of hand pretty quickly.

Arq 6

The new Arq 6 has a different backup selector. By default it backs up /Applications, /Users, and /Library/Application Support, and has an extensive exclusion list (including Cache, Downloads, …).

For my own preferences, /Library/Application Support is only a few hundred MB so I kept it in, and added the following excluded items:

  • Applications (covers both paths)
  • VirtualBox VMs
  • .direnv
  • .asdf
  • Movies
  • Library/Application Support/Steam
  • com.docker.docker (where it keeps its containers)
  • node_modules for Javascript
  • vendor/cache and vendor/gems for Ruby

Arq 7

Now has an available default backup option of non-system files, being /Users with these exclusions:

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.DocumentRevisions-V100
.MobileBackups
.MobileBackups.trash
.Spotlight-V100
.TemporaryItems
.Trash
.Trashes
.dbfseventsd
.dropbox
.dropbox.cache
.fseventsd
.hotfiles.btree
.vol
Backups.backupdb
Cache
Caches
Library/Metadata/CoreSpotlight
Downloads
DerivedData
node_modules
Logs
iTunes/iTunes Media/Downloads
iTunes/iTunes Media/Podcasts
iTunes/Album Artwork
iTunes/Previous iTunes Libraries
Library/Application Support/CrashReporter
Library/Application Support/Dropbox
Library/Application Support/Google
Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup
Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Mail Downloads
Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/DataVaults
Library/Developer
Library/Google/GoogleSoftwareUpdate
Library/Metadata/CoreSpotlight
Library/Mobile Documents
Library/Mirrors
Library/PubSub/Database
Library/PubSub/Downloads
Library/PubSub/Feeds
Library/Safari/Favicon Cache
Library/Safari/Icons.db
Library/Safari/Touch Icons Cache
Library/Safari/WebpageIcons.db
Library/Safari/HistoryIndex.sk
MailData/AvailableFeeds
MailData/BackingStoreUpdateJournal
MailData/Envelope Index
MailData/Envelope Index-journal
MailData/Envelope Index-shm
MailData/Envelope Index-wal

I have added:

  • Skip items excluded by Time Machine rules
  • Applications
  • VirtualBox VMs
  • .direnv
  • .asdf
  • Movies
  • Library/Application Support/Steam
  • com.docker.docker (where it keeps its containers)
  • vendor/cache and vendor/gems for Ruby

TODO: I can probably prune some more space here (Library/Group Containers looks like it might be iCloud related and I can redownload, Library/Caches/Homebrew is good to clear out, and Library/Arq just seems too self-referential to be worth backing up?)

About

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Jamie Macey is a senior software engineer with over 15 years experience in the Ruby and Rails ecosystems, largely on the back-end.

Husband, father, gamer, and all-around geek. Ask about my latest 3d print, or toy software project.