The whole premise of my 4 Step Backup Plan is to save your Mac’s files, do it easily and quickly, keep the expense down, and give you flexible options. That requires a combination of hardware and software.
#2 – Software. Meet Hardware
By now you’ve bought into the need for an external hard disk drive. The advantages are obvious. External storage. Lower cost. Flexibility.
Since Time Machine is mostly set it and forget it, you’ve got what you need as a first line of backup defense, right? Not so fast.
Each level of my 4 Step Backup Plan has advantages and disadvantages. And options.
Time Machine is good, it’s inexpensive, easy, but carries some risks, too. First, and assuming your Mac’s hard disk drive did die, it takes awhile to recover all the files on your Mac, get the system installed on a new hard disk and get back to normal.
Second, Time Machine is tethered to your Mac. The advantage of using Time Machine is nearly instant retrieval of files you may have lost or discarded (except within the last hour).
If your time is money, and your Mac is the hub of your digital life, what can be done to get back up and running quickly after a major disaster?
Send In The Clones
Clone your Mac. Specifically, clone your Mac’s hard disk drive. Cloning means what you think it means. You use a second (or third) hard disk drive (remember, they’re cheap) to make a near perfect clone of your Mac’s hard disk drive.
The way to do that best on a Mac is by using one of the many tools which do exactly that. They clone your Mac’s hard disk drive to another disk, and make that disk bootable.
That means you can use that external disk to start up on any comparable Mac. What? You didn’t know your Mac could do that? It’s been that way for many years, FireWire or USB. A cloned hard disk drive can boot up on another Mac, and all your files, applications, music, TV shows, movies, and photos are exactly where you left them.
What cloning tools do I recommend, you wonder? I thought you’d never ask. There are many, but I recommend either of the following. One is free. One is not. Both are superb, but different.
First, Carbon Copy Cloner.
It’s almost self explanatory, right? Select a Source Disk. In this case your Mac’s hard disk drive on the left. Then, select a Target Disk, such as your external hard disk drive.
Under Cloning Options, select Backup everything. Then click the Clone button. In 30 to 90-minutes (depends on how big your hard disk drive is, and how many files your have) you’ll have a nearly perfect clone of your Mac’s original hard disk drive.
The commercial cloning option works similarly. The SuperDuper! option is easy to use, fast, and works in a similar manner at the user level to CCC. Select what you want to Copy. Select which disk you want to copy To. Select Backup All Files. Click Copy Now.
How easy is that? When SuperDuper! is done, 30 to 90-minutes later, you have a clone of your Mac’s hard disk drive—a disk which can run on any comparable Mac (even easier if using the Voyager external hard disk drive dock).
Subsequent backups on both CCC and SD! are incremental. That means only the files that have changed on your Mac will be copied over to the backup clone. In that case, complete backups take only a few minutes.
SuperDuper! has more options than Carbon Copy Cloner, and more options using the automatic scheduler. Yes, you can schedule backups to run whenever you want. Using the Voyager dock, a cloned backup hard disk drive can be moved offsite—away from home or office—to be stored at a safe place.
The cost so far to this quadruple level backup plan? Not much. From CDs and DVDs to a couple of hard disk drives and docks. That’s a lot of protection for very little money. The cloned disk drives can be tested from time to time to ensure they’ll boot up as expected. The schedule option in SD and CSS, combined with Time Machine’s ultra ease of use, makes the complete backup process a nominal effort.
Part 4 tomorrow.