Test three: Ease of use
None of these applications will cause you too much trouble if you've been using OS X for a while, but if you're a new switcher or novice then there are some subtleties that can make all the difference.
We really liked the Get Backup approach - not the prettiest perhaps, but making a backup, a clone or synchronising disks is very clear. Twin has an easy-to-follow backup assistant for setting up new backups that is perfect for the novice user. Intego Backup Express is also worthy of a mention in the easy-to-use stakes.
That's not to say the others are difficult, as such, but the likes of SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner aren't as user-friendly. ChronoSync is a bit of a troublesome one to form an opinion on. It appears user-friendly because of the great interface. However, when you get into the bones of the app some will find it too technical. That said, if you're a confident Mac user, it's fine.
Test four: Backup options
The big loser here is Intego Backup Express. By dint of it being a Mac App Store download it lacks the clone feature that will allow you to make a bootable copy of your Mac's hard drive. This is because of restrictions placed on Intego by Apple's App Store policies. However, we do feel that this is reflected in its lower price.
ChronoSync and Get Backup Pro offer synchronisation, backup and bootable clone options and as such are incredibly flexible. Offering all three processes does mean that no matter what your backup regimen, either of these apps will suit.
Twin has the option to back up to online destinations, such as to Amazon S3 servers. SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner don't have the same syncing options, but do offer full, reliable bootable clones, which is arguably more important in times of crisis. Still, do you really need more functionality, or will an app that automates the process suffice?
The best Mac backup program is...
We were split over the apps on test here. Some, like Get Backup and ChronoSync, offer everything plus the kitchen sink. Others like SuperDuper! provide a single backup route. So here's the conundrum: is it better to have one app that can do it all or a single app that you can trust to just do the one thing it does?
We think it's telling that all the apps scored similarly. There's barely any wriggle room between them. They all do whatever they're asked to do with aplomb.
But there has to be a single winner and in this test it's ChronoSync. The interface looks the part and though it might be a bit harder for the novice user, the range of options and quality of the software is commendable.