eBook Excerpt: Mac Backup, Maintenance and Troubleshooting

I’ve finally gotten around to posting a page of the eBooks I wrote for Demand Media in the “Macs for Former Windows Users” series this past fall. It’s a page here on the blog documenting the seven eBooks I was thrilled to put together after a multi-year hiatus from technical writing.

I thought I’d commemorate that achievement (the one where I put the page up, not the one where I actually wrote thie books) buy offering an excerpt of one of my favorites of those books, Mac Backup, Maintenance and Troubleshooting.

Enjoy “Approaches to Backup” after the jump.

Approaches to Backup

Once you’ve decided that backing up is important, the next step is to decide how you’re going to do it. You have a few different options:

  • Cloning. The simplest way to back up is simply to clone your entire internal drive onto an external drive, such as one connected via USB. Using special cloning software, you generally can create a bootable copy that works just like your Mac’s internal storage. In an emergency, you can boot your Mac from that external drive and continue working. Booting from an external drive also puts the tools at your disposal to troubleshoot the internal drive that’s having trouble.
  • Full backup and incremental updates. In this situation, you make a full backup of your drive and then periodically update the backup. The initial full backup might be a bootable clone, or it might just be a comprehensive backup of your files in some other format, depending on the backup software you use. This is the most similar approach to Windows Backup and Restore.
  • Partial backup. Because the Mac OS and many of your applications could, conceivably, be reinstalled from their original media, you could do a partial backup that focuses only on important documents and items that change frequently. This is ideal if you need backups to happen relatively quickly and/or you’re using small external drives or online storage for your backups.
  • Versioning backup. A versioning backup differs from an incremental backup in that changes to files aren’t simply overwritten, but each change to a file (within certain parameters) is preserved. This makes it possible to retrieve different versions of a saved file, based on when it was changed and resaved. This is one of the tricks of Time Machine (which also does full and incremental backups), as well as Microsoft’s new File History feature in Windows 8.

2 thoughts on “eBook Excerpt: Mac Backup, Maintenance and Troubleshooting

  1. Sorry, just saw this comment. I use Carbon Copy Cloner, which enables you to create a clone backup and then make incremental changes to it. If you clone to an external drive, it should be bootable, so that if you ever lost your Mac’s drive, you could boot from the external clone and then clone *back* to the Mac’s internal drive, thus recovering with minimal headaches.

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