Is there an introductory guide for non-techie mac users?

Hello restic forum,
I’m looking for a introductory guide for non-techie mac users. Especially I want to know, if I have to format my hard drive and how I set it up restic for the hard drive. Additionally, I think I don’t need old snapshots - how do I delete the old ones automatically? I couldn’t find out the things on my own and would appreciate your help. I don’t even know if I need to choose the local repository or SFTP for a hard drive.
Best wishes,

Hello Paul, and welcome!

You do not need to format your hard drive to back up your files from it using restic. Doing so would be rather counter-productive :slight_smile:

Jokes aside, I presume you meant the/a hard drive that you intend to use for storing your backups on? In that case, you don’t need to format it in any special way - just have it formatted in the way that is most suitable for the system you are backing up from and the system(s) you might want to restore to - you want them to be able to read the disk when you need to restore from it.

To install restic, you can either use Homebrew or simply download and run the latest pre-compiled restic binary from the restic release page.

Once you have restic installed or downloaded, you need to run it, and this is something you do from the command line. There are primarily two steps - first you create your backup repository (where your backups are stored), and then you start backing up your files to that repository.

Creating your backup repository is described here, and backing up is described here.

To delete old snapshots that you don’t want, you use the forget and prune commands, which is described here.

Regarding which type of repository to chose, and where to put it, I’d say you naturally want it to be placed somewhere else than on the same computer you are backing up. At the very least a separate hard drive, but it’s probably better if you can get your backups stored offsite somewhere, e.g. on Amazon S3 or any of the other cloud backends restic supports.

Restic will soon also support using rclone as backend, which will give you access to all the backends that rclone supports (see list on the previous link) - pretty awesome!

That said, yes, using restic currently involves a bit of using the terminal/command line. But it’s not that bad - restic is super easy to install and after that it’s literally just a couple of commands to have your system backed up - don’t let them scare you off.

As an additional reference, here’s a guide on how to schedule restic on macOS, by @matt: Example: Scheduling regular backups on macOS

Feel free to ask follow-up questions!


Thank you, @rawtaz ! That is a really good answer. Two further questions: If I want to save the backup on a separate hard drive, do I have to create a backup repository on my mac firstly and move the repository folder to the hard drive secondly? I didn’t get that, sorry.
There is another problem: If I have admin permission for /tmp/backup, I don’t have the permission to backup the local user data (= I get lots of errors like: “error for /Users/pb/.Trash: open /Users/pb/.Trash: permission denied”). But if I have the local user permission, I cannot access /tmp/backup because I don’t have admin permission (=“Fatal: unable to open repo at /tmp/backup: ReadDir: open /tmp/backup/keys: permission denied”). What can I do? Maybe I can use a local folder instead of the /tmp/backup …
I would appreciate any help. Thank you very much :slight_smile:

It doesn’t really matter if you create a repository on your local mac hard drive first and then move the that repository folder to your external hard drive or create a repo directly on the hard drive. If that is easier for you then go for it. Just keep in mind that when you do a backup again you have to point to the new path for the repository (which then would reside on the external hdd).

For your second question: on macOS you will see some errors for some folders if you run the restic command under your user and you try to backup files that your user does not have access to.

So the path you mentioned, /tmp/backup, is probably from the example commands that @rawtaz mentioned.
You can choose any* path/folder you like to store your repository. It could be in ~/Desktop/Backup or on your external HDD directly.

Hope this helps. Let us know if there are still things that are unclear.

*to a degree…

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Awesome!!! Thank you, @moritzdietz :blush: That helped a lot. One thing to add: I actually had to format my hard drive at first. My Mac could read-only the hard drive, I think it was formatted for Windows. But there is a nice tutorial how to do it, I decided to go for the default Mac format [Mac OS Extended (Journaled)]:
Thanks again. I’m really happy with restic now :heart_eyes:

@paulberlin - you are correct, that is quite common. If you purchase a drive from your local store, they are often formatted as “NTFS” drives - a type of drive that most Mac’s will only “read” by default. As you’ve discovered, formatting that drive to a Mac OS Extended (known as HFS+) drive allows you to write data to it! You don’t experience the same issue with a store bought “flash drive” or “thumb drive” as these are often formatted as “FAT32” - something that both Windows and Mac can write to (but has other drawbacks) :slight_smile:

Edit: Sorry for resurrecting an old topic - saw this under a list of suggested topics, but didn’t check the date!