How valuable is your Mac? Does it have a few thousand photos in iPhoto? Are there a few thousand songs in iTunes? What about your downloaded movies and TV shows? Do you have priceless video clips stored in iMovie?
And what about your documents? Most of us store our most valuable files somewhere in the Documents folder. What are all those files worth to you? What’s your Mac backup plan? Step by step, here’s the best, most flexible, most affordable Mac backup plan ever.
Basic Backup Plans Are Easy
If you have any recent model Mac and no backup plan, you’re flirting with danger.
I don’t mean to spread fear and uncertainty. Macs are reliable. But they break.
I work for a school with hundreds of Macs and Windows PCs, so there’s always something going wrong and someone who lost a file they can’t find. Backups help. Of course, here at school we can backup most files on our network servers. What about Mac users at home?
Apple’s Time Machine does a decent job of providing basic backup for Mac users. Even a single backup solution is better than no solution at all. But, each level of backup that we employ also carries some expense, extra management time, and additional cost.
This is the plan that my husband and I use for the Macs in our home, and what we recommend for Mac users whose files are important. As always, cost is an issue. So is effort and complexity. So, our plan, while basic, is also flexible, optional, and extensible.
#4 – The Cheap Backup Solution
There is no way around this. Hardware fails. Sooner or later, whatever hard disk drive is in your Mac will bite the dust, and much of what’s on the disk goes along for the ride. Additionally, your Mac can break in other ways which prohibit access to your files.
Allow me to consider the hard disk drive in your Mac as the first level of a four step backup plan. All your valuable files are there now. Moving those files somewhere else, particularly on a regular schedule, improves your chances of avoiding catastrophe; losing files, losing the use of your Mac.
My backup plan is a combination of the right hardware, select software, and internet access. It’s also low cost, easy maintenance, and testable. After all, if your backup plan doesn’t work, what good is it?
With the exception of the MacBook Air, your Mac comes with a CD/DVD Player/Recorder. Burning a CD or DVD by copying files, folders, music, movies, and photos is almost drag and drop dead simple, right? There’s the added advantage of being able store versions of the CD or DVD outside of your home or office. Why?
Think about these. Fire. Flood. Tornado. Hurricane. Extreme weather. Theft. Any one of those can affect your house or office, your Mac and even a stack of backup CDs or DVDs. Moving the disks to another location, and doing so regularly, ensures valuable files are not lost to a natural disaster or theft.
What Mac software should you use to make copies of your Mac’s files? At this level, making CD or DVD copies of your Mac’s files, the software is less important. My preference is ChronoSync, because it does more than copy, but it’s automated, easy to setup, and almost foolproof.
However, drag and drop works just fine in most cases. It’s simple and is less expensive. Rewritable CDs/DVDs help to keep costs down. But manual backup requires you to act regularly. Disasters and theft don’t happen on a schedule. Are there other options which reduce the effort yet improve the backup plan? Yes.
Part 2 tomorrow.