Join Nick Brazzi for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding backups and archives, part of Mac OS X Mavericks Essential Training.
In this chapter, we're going to talk about what I think is the most important thing you should do on your computer, backing up your data. I want to start by setting up a basic piece of wisdom that I learned a long time ago. One day the hard drive on your computer will stop working. It's not a question of if, it's a question of when. Your hard drive will stop working one day. It might happen at a good time, it might happen at a bad time, but it will happen. So the worst thing you can do is store your important files in only one place, because one day that place will stop working.
That's why it's so important to back up. And I have a pretty simple defintition of what a back up is. Back up means you have your data stored in two or more locations, that's all. That usually means that you buy an external hard drive to keep a safe copy of your data on that external. There are a few ways to do this, including a really easy tool that's built into OS X called Time Machine. We'll talk about Time Machine later in this chapter, but let's take a quick side trip and talk about archiving, because archiving and backing up are not the same thing.
I've seen people buy an external hard drive, copy important files to that external drive, then delete them from their computer. That is not a back-up because the data does not exist in two or more places. If that external hard drive breaks, those files are gone. So, it's not a back-up. But you could call that an archive. An archive is when you don't want something on your computer anymore. But you also don't want it gone. If you put data on an external drive, then delete it from your system, that's an archive.
By the way, if you want to be safe with your archives, you can back up an archive simply by having two or more copies of that archive on separate drives. But, let's back to back-ups. So, what do you do if something happens to your computer and you lose your data? Maybe, the hard drive breaks or some files get deleted that shouldn't have. Well, what you are going to do is called restoring. So, if something happens to your computer. You disconnect the back-up drive from your computer. You get the computer fixed or replaced. If the computer wasn't broken.
If you just accidentally deleted some files, then you can skip that step. Then you just copy the backed up data from your backup drive back to your system. Now remember, your backup drive is just as likely to break as the hard drive in your computer. If that happens, you still need to restore. For example, I helped my brother setup a backup drive on his system. One day he called me and he said that his backup drive wouldn't work anymore. I said good, the system is working. You had two copies of your data and you only lost one.
Now you need to buy a new backup hard drive. And set it up as a new backup. So this is the idea in theory. The question is, how do you setup a backup? Well there are a few ways to do it. And we'll talk more about some of them in the rest of this chapter. It really depends on how easy you want it to be, and how thorough you want it to be. And how safe you want it to be. So lets take a look at a few options. Time Machine is a utility that is built into OS Ten and well talk about how to set that up later in this chapter. Another thing that we will talk about later in this chapter is a manual backup and that's where you just connect an external hard drive and you manually copy what you need to that external hard drive.
Now there are also some other options that we won't talk about specifically in this course like using other third party applications, Carbon Copy Cloner is a popular one. And there are also cloud back up tools. And these are services on the internet where your computer will back up its data through the internet on remote servers. Usually you pay for these services on a monthly or a yearly basis. Now lets talk about how easy these tools are. Time Machine is probably the easiest way to go, it's a tool that's built into OS X, it's super easy to set up and you can set it up for the first time and then just walk away.
Manual backups are kind of moderately easy, it really depends on how much you want to back up and how specific your manual backups are. But generally you're just copying files to an external hard drive so it's really not that bad. Third-party applications are moderately easy. It really depends on the application that you're using, but generally they're really not bad. And then Cloud backups are easy as well, they're almost as easy as Time Machine to set up, but because you're doing something over the Internet, there's just a little bit more to the process. Now, all of these are pretty thorough.
When you back up with Time Machine, you're backing up your user accounts as well as your applications. Now manual backups are probably just as thorough, again it really depends on how you do it. And remember there's going to be a movie dedicated to manual backups in this chapter, so we'll talk more about picking out exactly what you want to backup. Third party applications, like Carbon Copy Cloner, are very thorough. In fact, Carbon Copy Cloner itself has an option to completely duplicate one hard drive to another.
So, in that case, you're backing up literally everything, so it's about as thorough as you can get. Cloud backups are thorough but they're very slow especially the first initial setup is going to take a long time to transfer all of the data from your computer to that remote location. So, keep that in mind. They are thorough but they are slow. Finally, let's talk about safety. And, specifically, what's on my mind here is how likely are you to lose your backed up data? Well, Time Machine I would say is moderately safe and I say that because generally your backup drive is sitting right next to your computer on the same desk in the same room.
If anything were to ever happen in your house like a fire or a flood and you lost your computer, chances are you would lose that backup hard drive as well. So if you want to get a little bit more safe than that, then you probably want to have an offsite backup. And, that's why I say manual backups. It kind of depends. If you keep your manual backup drive in your home, then it's kind of moderately safe. But, if you keep your backup drive offsite, maybe at your office or somebody else's home.
Then it's much more safe. And when you do a manual backup, you decide where you keep that drive. The same is true of third party applications. And then when you deal with Cloud Backups, those are the most safe that you can get, because by nature they are being backed up to a remote location over the Internet. So this just gives you an idea of some of the options you have for doing backups. And in this chapter we're going to see how to set up a manual backup as well as Time Machine. I really don't want you to lose the hard work you've done on your computer, so please set up some sort of backup on your system.
- Installing and running Mavericks for the first time
- Connecting to the Internet
- Browsing through folders in the Finder
- Launching and managing applications
- Saving and searching for files
- Setting up iCloud and Apple ID accounts
- Browsing the web with Safari
- Using Mail, Calendar, and Contacts
- Messaging with iChat and Facetime
- Installing apps
- Sharing files and printer over a local network
- Backing up your Mac