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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

What is the preferred way to back up my Mac?


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Galson

 
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Sorry if this is a double-post -- I was typing it and the window disappeared.

I've been backing up my data to CD since I got my Mac a couple of years ago but that's too limiting and I end up just backing up a fraction of stuff, like financials, etc. What I want to do is make complete backups on a regular basis, perhaps weekly.

I tried to set up Time Machine, but it wants a wireless network and I'm not on one. I'm willing to invest in an external hard drive if it can do what I need. I want complete backups of all my data (photos, music, documents) onto a device that I can remove and take to work with me or keep in my car till next time. If I sound paranoid, it's because I had a break-in a few years ago and they stole my computer with all of its irreplaceable data.

I have SnowLeopard X and will be upgrading to the new version shortly. If any other information is required, please let me know. My other option is to go to the Mac store and ask a genius, which I'll do if I have to. But my Mac is HUGE so that's my last resort...

Thanks for any and all advice,
G. Alson
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EndlessMac

 
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Time Machine is what most people seem to use because it's real easy to maintain and do regular backups. You don't have to use wireless with Time Machine unless you want to and have a hard drive that has wireless connection. Any USB or Firewire external hard drive will work once it's formatted for Mac usage.

TM will backup just about everything on your computer so if it is damaged or stolen then you can fully restore your computer to the latest backup you have. The other option would be to use cloning apps like Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper. The biggest benefit of cloning your drive is that you can just boot it and use right away like you normally do unlike with Time Machine you have to do the long process of restoring your backup onto a new hard drive or computer.
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EvenStranger

 
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The easiest solution would be to purchase an external drive. If you buy it from the Apple Store, odds are it's already configured for you. When you connect it to your computer, Time Machine will launch and ask "Would you like to use the disk <drivename> for backups?" Click Yes, and from that point on, Time Machine will do one full backup of your system, and then incremental backups every hour as long as that drive is connected.
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Galson

 
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Thank you EndlessMac and EvenStranger for your helpful advice. Regarding the external drive, I'm leaning toward that, particularly knowing that if I have it plugged in, Time Machine will offer a different option from the only one currently available (the Wireless network option). I'm sure I'll have some user doc with the external drive letting me know how to set it up to do incrementals only when I reconnect the drive -- since I do plan on taking it to work with me or keeping it in my car most of each week except when I want to do another incremental backup... (Paranoia isn't much fun -- but if it leads me to safekeeping my data, it's worth the price... ;~))

Have a great weekend, both of you, and thanks again for your helpful advice!
G. Alson
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twitchymike@mac

 
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If you know exactly what you want to back up, the size of it, and it won't change, just drag all the files and folders onto a different disk - internal or external - into a folder, and give it a timestamp.

If a lot of things will change every day, week, month or year - adding or removing items, use Time Machine. It's great for differential backups, but it hogs far too much space, by creating an entire copy per each interval - that surprised me. After months of use, the backups are far too verbose. It doesn't seem to look for changes. Be careful what to back up, and exclude anything irrelevant

Options: all depending on how much of your content will change. I'd rather just leave Time Machine set to OFF, and decide manually when I feel like doing it when a lot has changed - every quarter, and then delete old quarters - I'm happy with the freshest one.

When you leave it ON, it keeps backing up per 24-hours, week & month. I can see the logic in filling the disk, and then clearing space by removing the oldest. This is far too much, and will cause more wear and tear on disks if you get obsessive.

I prefer to use SMART Utility to monitor the status and history (mileage) of a disk, and rely on it until you see errors, and then you have time to transfer all the content to somewhere else before it fails.
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Galson

 
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Thanks, TwitchyMike ;~)

I was hoping TimeMachine would only look for changed or new files. Backing everything up the first time to an external HD is a good starting point but then I hoped I could somehow scan my Mac every week or two and back up only new or changed files. Maybe TWO external HDs is the answer -- one "permanent" to use for a full backup every quarter, and one "temporary" that I can use to back up new or changed files on a more frequent basis (assuming the backup software can detect those).

Thanks, all, for the thoughtful replies and good information.
G. Alson
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EndlessMac

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galson View Post
I'm sure I'll have some user doc with the external drive letting me know how to set it up to do incrementals only when I reconnect the drive -- since I do plan on taking it to work with me or keeping it in my car most of each week except when I want to do another incremental backup... (Paranoia isn't much fun -- but if it leads me to safekeeping my data, it's worth the price... ;~))
After the first initial backup of everything Time Machine will only do incremental backups. You can do this manually or leave it on auto which does backups about every hour if you leave it plugged in. In your situation you can do a manual backup every morning and then take the hard drive with you as your daily routine.
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Galson

 
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Thanks, all. Now that I have a plan, I'm feeling better already. ;~)
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TattooedMac

 
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There is also the Option of making a Bootable Clone of you HD as well, for the time when your HD fails.
Look into either SuperDuper! (Mac) - Download or Carbon Copy Cloner - Home. This will clove your HD and make it a Bootable clone so when (not if) your HD fails you still have a working OS to use. A lot around here use TM and either of the 2 i mentioned for a backup strategy
HTH

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harryb2448

 
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Also when you get the external drive, consider a cloning program as Tattooed has suggested and can recommend SuperDuper. The registered version at $29 uses Smart Backup which will keep your current OS backed up. Use it on a weekly basis and takes three or four minutes.

Also in the event of problems, the cloned backup is bootable through System Preference > Startup Disk. IMHO much superior to Time Machine.

Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!
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TattooedMac

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harryb2448 View Post
Also when you get the external drive, consider a cloning program as Tattooed has suggested and can recommend SuperDuper. The registered version at $29 uses Smart Backup which will keep your current OS backed up. Use it on a weekly basis and takes three or four minutes.
Yes good point mate, and i did fail to mention that as i have the $29 version. Piece of mind

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Quote:
Originally Posted by twitchymike@mac View Post
... Time Machine. It's great for differential backups, but it hogs far too much space, by creating an entire copy per each interval ...
This is totally inaccurate. TM does not create an entire copy everytime. It only backs up what was changed since the last backup.

Each time stamp in the backup does show you everything at that particular point in time. But, any file that has not changed is still only stored a single time and is shown in every backup since it's creation.

If your supposition was the case, my wife's TM backup that has been running continuously now for over 3 years would be much larger than the 56GB it is considering she currently has 36GB used on her drive. Only two entire copies would be 72GB.

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MancmacUK

 
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I use TM, but only after some major software or XL changes.
Works a treat.

Question...
Can I use two separate external HDD's as TM backup ?
(Safer to have two backups)

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EndlessMac

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MancmacUK View Post
Question...
Can I use two separate external HDD's as TM backup ?
(Safer to have two backups)
I've never actually tried it but if you are going to do that I would recommend making one of them as a cloned backup instead using the applications mentioned above which are Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper. Some of us do that to have two backups. This way you get the advantage of both systems of backups. Both TM and cloning have their strengths and weakness so using both helps alleviate any weakness of either one.
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MancmacUK

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndlessMac View Post
I've never actually tried it but if you are going to do that I would recommend making one of them as a cloned backup instead using the applications mentioned above which are Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper. Some of us do that to have two backups. This way you get the advantage of both systems of backups. Both TM and cloning have their strengths and weakness so using both helps alleviate any weakness of either one.
I already do that !!

I have 3 external drives I use for backup, one is TM, one is CCC and the third is straight copy of folders since last copy.

But TM is the easiest and quickest to do incremental backups.
Hence possibly a second TM backup.

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