On the surface it’s such a simple statement:
I want to keep good backups. Unfortunately, the moment you delve into what that actually means and how to do it you discover that backups are rather a complex topic involving myriad decisions.
The good news is that Joe Kissell is here to help, with a thorough exploration of what’s what, and clear recommendations for how to achieve what you’re after with your
Backing Up Your Mac, A Joe On Tech Guide, by Joe Kissell. 202 pages · Version 1.0 · June 2, 2015.
Your best insurance against losing data forever is a thorough, carefully designed backup plan. You don’t have to spend a ton of money or be a technical whiz to back up your Mac. This book helps you design a sensible backup strategy, choose and configure the ideal backup hardware and software for your situation, and understand how to make your backups simple and convenient. … This book covers OS X 10.9 Mavericks and 10.10 Yosemite.
Joe sent me a copy of his book a few weeks back, and I’m finally finished working my way through it. There’s a lot of information here, clearly laid out, covering all the options someone like me could need — in a small business and relying on my Mac.
First comes an exploration of strategy, covering things like keeping versions of files you’re working on, having a duplicate disc you can start up your Mac with, and keeping copies off-site, so an earthquake, flood, hurricane or common burglar won’t sweep away both the Mac and the backups.
Once you have a strategy in place you will need software and hardware to implement it. There are plenty of options, with a good look at the implications of each. The options for hardware include things like a single drive, but also various network and RAID options, all discussed with a good level of detail, even delving into why some hardware, such as thumb drives, isn’t the greatest idea for reliable backups.
Given the software and hardware that are right for your situation, the book then turns to how to prepare the drive you’ve selected, and even where exactly you should plug it in and find it from the Mac or Macs you’re using.
Time Machine merits a section of its own, including how to set it up and use it and then how to retrieve files you’ve lost. The individual steps for recovering a Contact or email or even deleting all instances of a file from a backup are exactly what you’ll want when the time comes to do those tasks.
Oh, and did you know that your Mac laptop is probably still doing Time Machine backups when it’s asleep? I do, now that I’ve read page 122.
Off-site backups can be as low tech as a second hard drive kept at a friend’s house or as easy as using an online service or space. What are the options? They’re all covered, with enough detail that you can select the one that works for you and learn how to use it.
Making backups though is only the first consideration. What happens when you need to use that backup? How do you manage the backups, and test them to be sure your precious data is safe? And what about data that isn’t on your Mac, such as stuff already in the cloud because that’s where the service provider keeps it. Examples might be email, or documents created with Microsoft Office 365.
Of course all these things are covered, along with advice on permanently archiving older data.
This is a book where you read the first part carefully and act on the advice. Then, with your stuff safely backed up you can leave the book on the shelf (virtual or otherwise) hoping you’ll never need it.
But when you do need it, as you inevitably will, then take it out and work through the steps to retrieve that valuable information.
This is another clear, usable book by one of my favourite tech authors. If you treasure the stuff on your Mac you’d do well to work though this book and get yourself well set up before the worst happens.