Not every Mac user can afford to buy a bucket load of extra hardware to make backups. However, hard disk drives are less expensive now than ever before, and the options for a nearly foolproof backup plan expand greatly with the simple addition of an extra disk drive or two.
#3 – Hardware And Time Machine
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with making CD and DVD backups of your Mac’s important files. But it is a manual effort, prone to timing, and errors, even though it’s less expensive.
In every case I recommend that Mac users purchase at least one additional external hard disk drive.
Why? The cost is nominal. Recovery of lost files is easier and faster. Management is a breeze, too.
Option #3 uses Mac OS X’s built-in Time Machine software, which, when connected to an external hard disk drive connected to your Mac, can be a very convenient way to make quickly retrievable backup files.
Time Machine has certain benefits. It’s simple to set up and use. Finding lost files is quick and easy. But as simple as Apple makes Time Machine to use, there are some other issues to consider.
First, assume your Mac’s hard disk drive dies. Restoring your Mac to working order using Time Machine has a number of steps and none of them are quick.
Second, a Time Machine hard disk drive, whether wireless or USB cable (or FireWire) is still tethered to your Mac, and prone to the same issues of fire, flood, theft, and so on, that could take place with your Mac.
Finally, there’s the issue of what kind of external hard disk drive to use, and how large it should be. Nearly any decent, name brand external hard disk drive will do the job. I’ve had good success through the years with MacSales. Their hardware prices are competitive, almost always less than Apple, and they know Macs inside and out.
One of my recommendations for an external hard disk drive which works well with Time Machine is the Newer Tech VoyagerQ.
Isn’t that the absolute ugliest external hard disk drive setup you’ve ever seen? Is there another that is uglier? Or, more capable and flexible? That’s why it’s on my list.
Starting at about $50 (without the disk drive), the Voyager is more like a disk drive docking solution. Models can handle FireWire or USB or eSATA or all three.
You plug in an 2.5 or 3.5-inch SATA disk drive and you’re good to go.
The disk drive in Voyager is removable. You can swap it out with ease. Just eject the disk drive from the Mac’s Finder, turn it off, push the button, and you’re ready to swap it out.
There are a number of advantages with this approach. First, external hard disk drives tend to run hotter than internal disk drives on your Mac (the fan keeps it cooler). The Voyager drive stays cooler and cleaner than an internal disk drive, and could last longer.
Also, the Voyager is completely portable. It will work on any recent Mac using FireWire, USB, or eSATA connectors (depends on the Voyager model). The hard disk drive, because it can be removed, can also be store in a safe place away from home or office, and rotated as necessary to provide another layer of safety.
Finally, external hard disk drives usually cost more than internal disk drives. The drives you plug into an external Voyager dock are actually internal disk drives, so you’ll save money.
Next up is #2, the software advantage. Time Machine is better than nothing. So, what’s better than Time Machine? And, how does an external hard disk drive work with cloning software? And, what is cloning software?
Part 3 tomorrow