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Create an Automated Backup Plan with Fetch and iCal

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From hard experience, Maria Langer knows that you need to back up regularly. To reduce the pain of this boring task, she has figured out how to automate it by using some inexpensive software, easy AppleScript code, and iCal.

One of the most important—and most often neglected—responsibilities of using a computer is backing up important data. Take it from me—I know. I’ve lost two hard drives and all their contents in the past 15 years. The first time, nothing was backed up. You can bet that I was prepared the second time I was zapped.

One of the reasons we neglect backup is because it’s not convenient. And that’s putting it lightly. Most people think it’s too much of a bother to even, well...bother.

While plenty of backup solutions exist, if you’re a Mac user with access to another computer via FTP, you already have most of the tools you need to build your own custom, automated backup solution. All you need is one additional, inexpensive piece of software to get the job done: a popular FTP client software program called Fetch. This article explains how to create an automated backup system by using Fetch and iCal.

About Fetch

An FTP client application by Fetch Softworks, Fetch has an unusual history. Originally developed in 1989 by Jim Matthews, then an employee of Dartmouth College, Fetch was intended for the college’s internal use but was also made available as shareware to the general public. It became a widely popular FTP client and was updated periodically over the next 10 years to add some new features and fix bugs. Then, in 2000, Matthews was a contestant on the show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He used some of his winnings to buy Fetch from Dartmouth and launch Fetch Softworks. The software is now updated regularly, and sells for $25 on the Fetch Softworks web site.

FTP client software enables you to transfer files between your computer and an FTP server via an Internet connection. FTP works with a collection of commands that pass between the two computers to communicate. Fetch uses an intuitive interface to get user instructions and then translates those instructions into the FTP commands that the server expects to receive. By doing so, it makes FTP relatively easy to use.

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