Howdy, it's Texino. As part of my day to day scheme to get by in this world, I fix Macintosh Computers. I do it as a free lance technician with no advertising. My clients come by referral. I tend to like them and we often become friends to an extent, however; regardless of how much I suggest they do so, very few of these good people ever back up their systems or important files and when a problem strikes and data is lost, things start to get expensive and and tensions develop. Now you will notice I say "When a problem..." not "If". Well there you have it in a nut shell. I know from long experience (20 yrs) of messing around with these machines that it is only a matter of time before something you suddenly need very badly will not be available. It could be a file or it could be your hard drive, but eventually, when least expected and most desired, the machine will fail to come through leaving you dumfounded and knowing that whomever you call is going to ask the dread rhetorical, "Do you have backup?"
What exactly is backup? Basically backup is simply a copy of what is on your computer. Now the windows OS Window XP and their latest offering, have an automatic built in saver that will return the computer to a previous functional state should you some how mess it up. In theory this is cool, but if the computer breaks, you are dead in the water. Now there have been many good pieces of software for both Mac and Windows that will help you with backing up your computer but the are kind of pricey and often complex, as in requiring you to choose backup times that do not conflict with your computing. By now you have probably picked up that you need to put this back up some place. In the past, optical media such as CD-RW or DVD was good but as hard drives got larger removable disks lost out to eternal hard drives using either firewire 400 or USB 2.0 Bus which can be very reasonable. I have seen 250 GB drives for
So with the equipment and theory looked at, let me get to the point which is that Apple has finally addressed the problem of the "backup" where anyone with and external HD can work in relative safety. They have doe this by placing a utility in their latest version of the OS X system called "Time Machine". Here is how it works. You install the upgrade to OS 10.5 or turn on your new computer for the first time. A prompt will come up and ask if you have a drive to use for time machine. If you have more than one HD or any external drives hooked up, it will ask if you want to use any of those. When you make a selection, the computer will back itself up to that drive.
It takes a while the first time, but it is done in the background. After the initial backup and as long as the drive is connected the machine will check every hour and change whatever you may have done. Then it checks every day every week and every month. Now once you get a solid backup, you might turn it off and just put it on every few days like I do my laptop while my main computer is backing up all the time. It's up to you.
Does it work? Why yes, it does. Example #1 I was checking a laptop HD by plugging it into the USB 2.0 port in my desk top. I mis plugged a pin and my HD disappeared. Would not even show up on the desktop and none of my software would recover it. I erased the disk, started the machine from a CD and chose "install from backup source" chose a date two days prior to make sure every thing had been in order and hit go. The HD was replaced as if nothing happened. Every single little thing from email address-book to browser book marks was there. Those of you who have tried to replace the contents by dragging stuff from a backup copy know that something always goes wrong. Not here. Example #2 I have a contract with a big web hosting and design outfit doing some DNS work. I got a call from the CEO who needed to know something which required me to go into a unix server. I said OK call you right back and went to the job folder to get my pass word and make sure I had the right unix commands in my head. Well the work folder was gone. Plain gone. No way I can do this thing for the boss without him finding out I messed up. Not the end of the world but I know some people who would get crazy on this sort of thing and hey, no one wants to look careless. No problem though. I open up "Time Machine" scroll back a few days and check out my desktop of the past and there is the folder. Click on it. Then click "restore" and as the French say "I see it!" right on my present desktop and go on with my task with the Chief saying thanks for getting back so quickly. Starting to see why I am High fiving this software?
So to wrap it up. if you have a new Mac or one that can run 10.5 and are not taking advantage of "Time Machine" Texino would like to know why not? Seriously this has made a believer out of me and I have been guilty of slack-backup myself. (I've just gotten away with it due to having lots of expensive recovery software) All fooling aside, if you have this system and don't use the back up feature, Old Man Trouble is just waiting at your door.
You can heed me now or deal with him later...)