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Member Since: Oct 27, 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
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Why you should backup

Hard drives die. Computers are lost or stolen. Water damage. Accidental deletion a file or program. Power surge fries your electronics. Natural disasters. System restores and clean installs.

Those are just a few reasons why backups are important and should not be considered optional. If you own a computer, you should be backing up. Just think about all the important memories and files you have stored on your machine. If they suddenly disappeared how would you feel?

Spending a little money and an even smaller amount of time creating a backup regiment will save you headache and offer peace of mind and security.

There are three types of backups for that most Mac users consider. You can use any one of them and be better off than nothing, and you can also use all three for the best protection.

External Drive Solutions

The first two solutions require the use of an external hard drive. You can find a good selection and compare prices and reviews at

Rule of thumb for size is that you want your drive or partition to be 2X the size of your drive for Time Machine and for a clone backup, the drive or partition can be of equal size to your hard drive. Use that to help determine the overall size of the drive once you decide on a backup approach.

New with Lion: We highly recommend using encrypted external drives for your backups to increase the security of your data in case the drive is ever lost or stolen. Read how to do this now. (Note, the drive must be formatted with a GUID Partition Table or GPT)

Time Machine

Beginning with Leopard (OS X 10.5) Apple included a built-in backup utility called Time Machine. Time Machine is an incremental backup solution, this means that at specified times OS X will backup any file changes to your Time Machine drive. This saves space and keeps multiple versions of the file snapshot available to you.

This is the easiest backup solution and should be one of the first things you do when you get a Mac.

More information on Time Machine, setting it up, and how it works can be found here:
Clone or System Imaging

Clone or system imaging backups are point-in-time backups that are exact mirrors of your system at the moment the backup is done.

While it's not as flexible nor does it have the multiple versions like Time Machine, the one main advantage of this type of backup is that the drive is bootable. This means you could boot your Mac off this drive if your internal drive won't boot.

Many of our members use this as a secondary backup to their Time Machine. How often you choose to take this image is up to you and depends on the rest of your backup setup and risk tolerance.

There are two great pieces of software to accomplish a clone backup:
Cloud or Remote Backup Solutions

An often overlooked type of backup are remote or cloud backup solutions. While external drives are the first line of defense, what happens if there's a disaster that destroys both your computer and external drive, what if they're both stolen, what if you somehow lose both? Are you prepared to lose all your important files and memories?

There are cloud services available for a small monthly fee that allow you to backup the contents of your computer to a cloud-based storage solution, often for less than the cost of one Starbucks latte a month.

The backups are encrypted, sent to the cloud, and stored encrypted on their servers. It's a very secure process.

We highly recommend BackBlaze which allows unlimited cloud storage for as little as $3.96 per month and it is also very Mac friendly.

Last edited: 07.29.2011
Original thread: Backups, Backups, Backups.

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