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OS X - Apps and Games Discussion of applications and games available for Mac OS X.

Backing up - time machine versus third party software?

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Member Since: Dec 29, 2008
Posts: 12
Narcosnthesis is on a distinguished road

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Now that I have my mac running, it is time to get everything backed up safely on an external drive.

Previously on my older windows machine I used the microsoft synctoy to backup my critical files to an external drive whenever I ran it, worked fine with no complaints.

Now that I have switched to the mac, I have a choice of either using the inbuilt time machine software, or getting some third party software (I know there are a few linked on the Apple site), the question is whether there is an obvious benefit to using either?

As far as I can see it, to use time machine backs up my entire system, from replacing the hard drive I know it will restore absolutely everything (though I didn't have any files saved at that point just a few programs and personal settings).
On the flipside other software would let me just backup my important folders, so they are just saved as normal and can be pulled up as I would do on the macs hard drive - I can keep some files on the backup drive that I only need occasionally for example, as far as I can see with time machine I can either restore everything, or nothing

I was wondering if there was an obvious choice for those more experienced with macs and the setup than me?

Ideally I would run a combination of both - can I set it up so to use time machine to save my computers setup and program set, and then separately use another program to back up the critical files. I see that as the ideal setting as I can restore the computer from time machine if needed, but also have the files available for use on other machines.

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When considering a backup strategy, 3 things are important

1) How long can you live without your data being available ?
2) How much data can you afford to loose and how much time and effort are you willing to put in to re-create lost or corrupted data ?
3) Verify the backups you take for accuracy and completeness and make sure you can restore from them

Based on this you can start thinking about appropriate solutions.

If getting back up and running fast is a premium, consider cloning your system disk to an external disk...... there are great tools available ( SuperDuper!, .... )

Time Machine is great, because it provides you with hourly incremental backups and it is very easy to recover files from it.

My current backup strategy is:
- Time Machine
- SuperDuper! clone weekly
- SuperDuper! clone before applying Apple updates

It all depends on your requirements ( items 1-3 above )

Hope it gives you an idea.


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The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
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Member Since: Dec 29, 2008
Posts: 12
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The important data I *need* are photos saved on the computer - previously I saved them to the computers hard drive, backed up the image folder to an external drive and once I successfully have two copies of them wipe the card and reuse it.
I also have music and so on saved on the computer, which will get backed up alongside the images, but this is mostly for convenience as I do have it all in hard copy anyway.

The system is less important, but I would like to have some backup of it I could reload from to save me having to sort out all the programs I do use and get everything working again.

I know time machine can be set to update regularly, but I won't be using this - my backup drive will be kept separate from the computer (to save from a system crash corrupting it, power surge, theft or other problem local to the computer) so updates will be done periodically - pretty much after every download from the camera or after major system changes.

I am not too sure how superduper and other backup programs work, I am assumign time machine is the easiest choice for a system backup, then a separate program to backup the data?

Also, when I used time machine to reinstall the os (putting in a bigger hard drive) I seem to remember it dedicated the external drive to itself - can I set it so that another program can use it, or am I just remembering nonsense?
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