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Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac
Set up a rock-solid backup strategy so that you can restore quickly and completely, no matter what catastrophe arises.
Read along as backup guru Joe Kissell helps you pick the best backup strategy for your needs and understand the hows and whys of what you are doing, taking you far beyond the limited security of turning on Time Machine or copying a few files to a flash drive.
You'll learn the three key parts of a successful backup strategy, advice for backing up digital photos and massive video projects, and time-tested recommendations for setting up, testing, maintaining, and restoring backups. Whether you're running Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, 10.6 Snow Leopard, or 10.5 Leopard, you'll soon have a reliable, up-to-date backup system.
Includes coupons worth $30 off Data Backup and 10% off CrashPlan!
Although the 210-page ebook is organized so you can start backing up without reading every page, the full ebook will teach you to:
Design a reliable backup system. If you’re developing a new backup system, you’ll learn how to make it not only thorough, ensuring that all your data is safe, but also easy to manage. And if you’re reassessing and redesigning an existing backup system, Joe provides detailed advice about how to evaluate it and offers guidance for improving and modernizing it.
Talk like an expert. You'll understand terms like “versioned backups,” “push” and “pull” backups, “duplicates,” “server,” “client,” “incremental,” “hard link,” “metadata,” “mirroring,” and “snapshot.”
Shop for hardware. You'll discover the pros and cons of different backup media options such as hard drives (with USB, FireWire, eSATA, or Thunderbolt interfaces—and with or without full-disk encryption), flash drives, optical media, tape drives, RAIDs, Drobo storage devices, Time Capsules, and NAS and SAN devices.
Choose backup software. You'll learn about 14 key features and find overviews and tips for 8 noteworthy backup products (an online appendix covers nearly 100 options), plus several suggestions for online backups. You'll also get Joe's personal recommendations to help you sort through the possibilities.
Operate your Time Machine. You’ll find what goes on beneath Time Machine’s simple surface, and how best to make use of Apple’s built-in backup system, including how Lion’s local backups work when your Time Machine volume isn’t available, and how to encrypt a Time Machine backup.
Make backups. No matter what backup software you decide to use, Joe provides a conceptual walk-through of the entire process, offering basic information for people who've never made a backup before and savvy, real-world suggestions for making the backup process as easy as possible.
Deal with special backup needs. You’ll learn what to do about certain kinds of data that may require special backup strategies, such as large media archives, frequently changing files that need special versioned backup treatment, and Windows files and volumes hosted on your Mac.
Recover lost data. Use your backup to recover lost data successfully in the event of a hard disk crash or other calamity. After all, restoration is what's really important.
iPad & Kindle
About the Author
Joe Kissell has written numerous books about the Macintosh, including many popular Take Control ebooks. He's also Senior Editor of TidBITS and a Senior Contributor to Macworld, and previously spent ten years in the Mac software industry.
Reviews of Previous Editions
Table of Contents
Read Me First
The data on every Mac should be backed up to protect you against theft, hardware failure, user error, and other catastrophes. This book helps you design a sensible backup strategy, choose and configure the best backup hardware and software for your needs, and understand how to make your backups as painless as possible. This book was written by Joe Kissell, edited by Tonya Engst with help from Michael E. Cohen, and published by TidBITS Publishing Inc.
The first edition of Take Control of Mac OS X Backups hit the virtual shelves in December 2004. I had no inkling at the time that it would go through five editions, eventually becoming the best-selling Take Control book ever. All I knew was that backups were a big problem for Mac users. Even though most people realized the importance of backups, few people could say with certainty that their data was completely safe in the event of any conceivable disaster. That’s because in 2004, properly backing up a Mac was, for the average user, a complicated, daunting, and expensive prospect. I wrote my book to help people sort through all those complications and eliminate the pain associated with backups.
Over the years, things changed. Backup hardware, software, and services multiplied at a shocking rate, prices fell precipitously, and Apple made numerous changes to Mac OS X (as well as to Mac hardware itself) that would significantly alter the backup landscape—so I kept updating my book to cover the new stuff. By the time the second edition appeared in 2007, Take Control of Mac OS X Backups had nearly doubled in length, and had become so unwieldy for some readers that we decided to spin off a more concise, simplified version of the book—first titled Take Control of Easy Backups in Leopard, and later renamed to Take Control of Easy Mac Backups—as well as to move some of the book’s content into online appendixes. But the backup world kept right on changing, and both books kept growing.
As I began working on what would have been the sixth edition of Take Control of Mac OS X Backups, I felt perturbed that my books had become so much more complex, even though backups themselves had become much easier! Part of the reason for this mismatch was that I’d never bothered to purge a lot of information that was no longer relevant. (Do I really need to browbeat you into scheduling backups to run automatically, or spend seven pages convincing you that optical discs aren’t the best choice for backups?) Another reason was that I was still trying to cater to those using what I now regard as an inefficient, old-fashioned approach to backups—the method I settled on back in the days when Retrospect was still the best choice in backup software for most Mac users.
I also realized that the basic three-pronged approach I outlined in Easy Mac Backups is, in fact, what I recommend for just about everyone, and if I obscure that information in the process of covering backups comprehensively, I’m doing my readers a disservice.
So, clearly the time had come to rethink my approach, and in the book you’re now reading, here’s what I’ve done:
Historical note: Part of the reason for the original title was that we wanted to be sure readers understood the book was only about Mac OS X, and didn’t discuss backing up Mac OS 9!
With those changes made, I’d like to think that what we now have is a modern approach to Mac backups that covers the bases but doesn’t overwhelm you with extraneous details. I explain how to develop a solid backup strategy, what your choices are, how to set everything up, what sorts of pitfalls you may encounter, and how to restore your data if disaster strikes. Rather than explore every alternative exhaustively, I guide you gently but firmly into a fairly narrow set of options that should yield excellent results for the vast majority of Mac users.
Before we get started, however, I need to mention a few qualifications:
This book covers backing up Macs running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or later, including 10.7 Lion. Although much of this material applies generally to machines running older versions of Mac OS X, I don’t spell out any differences. In addition, although I don’t cover Windows extensively, do see Windows Files and Volumes, which discusses backing up Windows when it’s running on your Intel-based Mac.
You can read this book in any order, but I suggest starting with Plan a Backup Strategy in order to understand the rationale behind the hardware, software, and setup advice I give later. Here are the components of a solid Mac OS X backup plan.
As I explain in the Introduction, this book is effectively the sixth edition of Take Control of Mac OS X Backups plus the second edition of Take Control of Easy Mac Backups, rolled into one! Although the title has changed and the information has been consolidated, this book relies heavily on the contents of its predecessors. So if you had either of those titles previously, here are the most significant changes I made that you should be aware of:
Some content that was previously in appendixes has been moved to the Web at http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/resources/0014/:
There are lots of great ways to read our ebooks on these devices. For more details, please read our latest Device Advice.
Feel free to ask us if you have a question about this title!
How could we not publish such kind words? If you'd like to send us your comments (good or bad, though we hope they're all good), just click the Feedback link on the cover of your copy of the ebook. Be sure to let us know if we can publish your comment. Thanks!
April 18, 2013 -- Back in July of 2012, I wrote in this space, "we've begun talking about creating a new edition of this ebook, possibly to be released in late 2012 or early 2013." Now that 2013 is underway, Joe and I are getting serious about creating this update. The update will be a new edition, and we expect to release it in June or July of 2013. Anyone buying this ebook now will get a free update to the new edition. [It is now May 23, and it appears that if all goes well, this will be a June release!]
July 25, 2012 --
The vast majority of material in Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac is still valid in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. However, please be aware of the following:
Additional changes that have come about since this ebook was published are these:
In addition to these issues, I've accumulated a fairly long list other things in the book that could use updating—the world of backup hardware, software, and services continues to evolve. I can feel a new edition coming on, but as my to-do list is long I'm not sure how soon that will happen. I'll shoot for some time in Q4 2012 or Q1 2013.
October 3, 2011 --
You've read the book (we hope), now hear (and see) the author, Joe Kissell, direct from Paris, as he explains to Chuck Joiner of MacVoices and MacVoicesTV what's new and what's important about “Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac,” the latest version of Joe’s popular and insanely useful book.
—Michael E. Cohen
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