We’ve all heard it a million times: Back up your important files. But how many of us really do it? Do you?
I didn’t. That is, until the day I started my Mac and I saw a folder with a question mark icon on it. (This is going back a few years.) The cryptic icon meant that my computer couldn’t find a System Folder. It couldn’t find it because it couldn’t read my hard disk. As a matter of fact, nothing could read my hard disk.
I was in the middle of writing a book when it happened and, fortunately, I had been sending chapters to my editor on a nightly basis. I didn’t lose any work. But I did lose all my address book contacts, calendars, and many other documents I would rather not have lost. I learned my lesson.
Think it only happens once? It doesn’t. About six years and two computers later, it happened again. Because my important files were backed up, though, the loss of my hard drive was an inconvenience but not a catastrophe.
If you’re a .Mac user, you have access to one of the simplest tools around for backing up your hard disk: Backup 3. Not only can it back up to CDs or other removable media, but it can make the best backup of all: an offsite backup that’ll protect your data from fires, floods, theft, and more.
In this article, I explain how you can make the most of this program to back up your important files almost effortlessly.
Getting and Installing Backup
Backup 3 is available for free to all .Mac users—even those with a Trial account. So if you don’t have a .Mac account, now is the time to get one. In my opinion, Backup and the generous amount of disk space available to .Mac users on their iDisks are well worth the $99 annual fee.
To sign up, go to http://www.mac.com and follow the links to set up your account.
Once you have a .Mac account, go to the .Mac page and click the link for Backup 3. After logging in, you’ll get a web page with complete information about Backup software and its benefits (see Figure 1). Read it to learn the basics of what the software can do for you. Then click the Download link to download Backup to your computer.
Figure 1 You can find detailed information about the Backup 3 features on the .Mac web site.
When the download is complete, your Mac should open a disk image file. Open the Backup 3 disk that appears on your desktop and double-click the Backup.pkg file inside it. Then go through the usual Apple installer routine to install Backup on your hard disk (see Figure 2). You’ll have to enter an administrator password to get the installer working. When installation is complete, you can "eject" the Backup 3 disk.
Figure 2 Use a standard Mac OS installer to install Backup on your hard disk.