Apps Mac Reviews

Dolly Drive Backup Utility Review

Build a Time Machine made of clouds

There’s a word so dirty that most computer users don’t even want to think about it. Even people who should know better, like IT techs or hardened tech journalists, quake at its mention. Backup: it’s one of the most hated words in the computer lexicon because it conjures up nothing but worst-case scenarios. Apple’s Time Machine does a decent job of backing up your stuff (if you’ve turned it on), but what if you primarily use a laptop? Or worse, what if your basement floods, claiming your camping gear and your backup drive as victims? Dolly Drive tucks your Time Machine backups into the cloud, giving you Apple’s built-in simplicity paired with the security of offsite storage in the event of a disaster.
Once you’ve signed up and installed the Dolly Drive client, you’re good to go. Fire up the app, enter your Dolly Drive credentials, and you’re taken to the Dolly Drive window. Clicking on Inclusion Assistant lets you pick and choose files and folders to back up. From there, Time Machine takes over, sending your stuff to Dolly Drive’s servers on an hourly basis. Since Dolly Drive is backing up over the internet, the initial transfer can be quite lengthy—on the order of several days or more. Unfortunately, Dolly Drive doesn’t offer an option to seed the backup by mailing in a disk-based backup, the way some other online-backup services do. And when we tried to back up large quantities of data initially, we encountered errors. We had much better luck starting with a small subset of data and gradually adding folders to our Dolly Drive backup. 
Time Machine + the cloud = simple, solid, secure backups.
Similarly, Dolly Drive did exhibit occasional outages during testing, but as a new service, it’s quickly ramping up capacity, and the Dolly Drive team is extremely good at communicating to users about planned outages and other maintenance. As the system grows, we expect that stability will improve—and besides, we’ve experienced occasional Time Machine problems even when using local external disks. 
Once things got rolling, Dolly Drive did a great job updating our Time Machine backup. File restoration is handled entirely in the native Time Machine interface. Other than noticeable lag when launching Time Machine and a slightly longer restore time for large files, it was no different restoring from the cloud than it was from the USB disk we used to use. In our book, a slight hit in performance is well worth the convenience of not having to plug in an external drive. After all, how often do you really fire up Time Machine? Of course, Dolly Drive competes with Apple’s Time Capsule and a number of NAS drives that will work with Time Machine, but all of those physical products suffer the same location-based limitation. Your Dolly Drive backups will be safe when your house is leveled by marauding robot zombies, but your Time Capsule probably won’t fare as well.
Of course, if your whole system bites it and you need to restore from your backup, downloading the whole thing could take weeks—and how would you connect to the service with a busted system anyway? Dolly Drive has you covered there as well. The application includes a button to make a bootable clone of your system on an external drive. In the event of a total meltdown, you can boot from your clone and then use Dolly Drive to restore the out-of-date files. 
The bottom line. Backups are only good if you perform them regularly and if you can actually get to them. The terrific Dolly Drive wraps your Time Machine data safely in a cloud you can access from practically anywhere.
Dolly Drive Backup Utility
Cirrus Thinking
$10/month (250 GB); $7.50/month (100GB); $5/month (50GB)
Mac OS 10.6 or later
Simplicity of Time Machine, plus the security of an offsite backup. Storage increases by 5GB every month for free. Clone option allows you to do a complete restore.
Initial backup can be slow. Bigger lag time than local Time Machine backups. Occasional trouble connecting to Dolly Drive servers.