Set up a rock-solid backup strategy so that you can restore quickly and completely, no matter what catastrophe arises.

Take Control of
Mac OS X Backups

Fifth Edition
Joe Kissell

Backup expert Joe Kissell provides all the latest advice you need to create a backup strategy that protects your data and enables quick recovery. Joe compares backup media, services, and software to help you make the best choices. You’ll learn to set up, test, and maintain your backups, plus how to restore your stuff after a calamity!

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This ebook is no longer for sale.

Joe Kissell

About Joe Kissell

Take Control publisher Joe Kissell has written more than 60 books about technology, including many popular Take Control books. He formerly wrote for publications such as Macworld, Wirecutter, and TidBITS. He lives in Saskatoon with his wife and their two sons.

What’s New in the Fifth Edition

The fifth edition of Take Control of Mac OS X Backups is a major revision from fourth edition, with extensive modifications throughout. The biggest changes are these:

  • Removal of information about versions of Mac OS X older than 10.5 Leopard, as mentioned in the Introduction
  • An entirely rewritten section, Do You Need Versioned Backups?, and corresponding modifications to The Versioned Backup, which I hope will eliminate some confusion on the topic of what problems this type of backup can solve
  • A brand-new, eight-page section titled Reassess Your Backup Strategy that should be the starting point for people who already have a backup strategy—especially those who have read earlier editions of this book—and provide a useful reference as your backup needs change over time
  • Information about a new program called ForeverSave that has features resembling a version control system
  • In the context of backing up while on the road, a reworked section, Local Backups, that now has more, and kinder, things to say about flash storage; additions to the Remote Backups topic about services such as Dropbox and SugarSync; and information on using an iPad Camera Connection Kit in Backing up without a Laptop
  • Completely reorganized (and almost entirely rewritten) instructions for backing up Windows Files and Volumes
  • New information in Choosing a Hard Drive about USB 3.0 and eSATA, along with updated examples of hard drive models
  • An expanded section, now called RAIDs and RAID-like Tech, that includes discussion of geek terminology such as JBOD, concatenation, and BeyondRAID—the latter of which is covered in more detail in a completely revised discussion of Drobo Storage Devices
  • Thoroughly revised discussion of Optical Media, noting that both Apple and I are in the process of deprecating this type of storage
  • Addition of several third-party NAS devices compatible with Time Machine in the discussion of Time Capsule
  • Fully up-to-date and expanded information on services and pricing in Internet Backup Services
  • Revised discussion of flash drives, and new information on SD cards, in Hardware You (Probably) Shouldn’t Consider and Why
  • A new discussion of pruning (see Versioned Backup Pruning), which replaces my previous coverage of “rolling versioned backups”
  • Updated information on the latest versions of Apple Backup, Jungle Disk, Retrospect, and SuperDuper
  • A new sidebar that addresses a common misconception about restoring data, Restore the Data, Not the Application
  • Updated information about what you should (or need not) exclude from Time Machine, in Items to Consider Excluding
  • Instructions for restoring GarageBand projects using Time Machine, in GarageBand
  • An entirely rewritten section about migrating data from one Time Machine destination to another, which now covers not only Time Capsules but also local and network volumes, in Migrate to a Larger Time Machine Disk
  • A new tip about how to Encrypt Time Machine Backups
  • Removal of outdated information about obsolete rsync versions in Appendix A: Unix-Based Backup Systems
  • A few new terms in the Glossary

What Was New in Previous Editions

The fourth edition became Snow Leopard savvy, while also providing specific advice for Leopard and Tiger users. It entirely covered Time Machine (in Leopard and Snow Leopard), but it also explained why Time Machine might not be the cat’s pajamas for making a complete backup and looked at mixing Time Machine with other options for a better backup strategy.

Beyond Snow Leopard, here’s the list of what was new between the third and fourth editions:

  • A greatly expanded write-up about choosing a hard drive, with new information on FireWire 800 interfaces, Clickfree devices, caseless connector kits, pocket-sized hard drives, hardware-encrypted drives, and full-disk encryption software
  • A significantly expanded discussion of Internet backup services
  • Updated details about photo sharing services, recent Drobo devices, CrashPlan, and Jungle Disk
  • A new discussion of deduplication, which prevents your backup media from filling up with duplicated files
  • Information and opinions about two additional noteworthy backup programs: Backblaze and ChronoSync
  • Improved terminology for several common backup features
  • A new sidebar about having a backup of your computer itself as well as its data
  • A new discussion, NTI Shadow for Ordinary Folk, which replaces the previous discussion of using Versomatic for day-to-day version control
  • Simplified instructions for Boot Camp users to create and restore duplicates of an NTFS or FAT32 Partition
  • Updated information on using Time Machine with some third-party NAS devices in Time Capsule
  • Details about utilities that provide more information about what Time Machine is doing and let you change its behavior
  • Improvements in the description of sub-file updating
  • A new five-page section on the latest version of Retrospect
  • An updated Appendix A: Unix-Based Backup Systems

I'm still running 10.4. and have noticed that the latest edition, the fifth, has removed discussions of 10.4. Is the fourth edition of the book a good choice for someone like me who still needs to run Tiger?

The 4th edition is now extremely outdated in terms of backup software, hardware, online services, and so on. Furthermore, many of those products no longer work with Tiger. On the other hand, although the 5th edition has up-to-date info, it doesn't provide any of the little tips and exceptions that are applicable only to Tiger. So, really, neither edition is a good fit for a Tiger user, and our actual advice would be to upgrade to Leopard or later if at all possible! But if it's not possible, we'd say the next best thing is to look at the 5th edition but with the awareness that some of the things discussed in it either won't work as written, or will require minor adjustments.

Does the book cover backups strategies for large businesses?

No, the book focuses on backup strategies for single computers and small networks but does not cover the specific needs of large, institutional networks.

Which versions of Mac OS X does this ebook cover?

The ebook specifically covers Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, as well as 10.5 Leopard.

Backups shouldn't be so complicated! Do you have anything that explains backups in a shorter, simpler way?

For folks who would prefer to not explore as many options, we have Take Control of Easy Mac Backups, also by Joe Kissell. It takes a focussed look at backups in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and 10.5 Leopard, covering Time Machine in detail, but also providing guidance if you need a backup feature not offered by Time Machine, such as a bootable duplicate.

  • Read Me First
  • Introduction
  • Mac OS X Backups Quick Start
  • Decide on a Basic Backup Strategy
  • Consider Special Backup Needs
  • Choose Your Hardware
  • Choose Your Software
  • Set Up Your Backup System
  • Configure and Use Time Machine
  • Appendix A: Unix-Based Backup Systems
  • Glossary
  • About This Book
  • September 28, 2011 -- This ebook has helped thousands of readers avoid backup catastrophes through five editions. However, earlier this year, when Joe once again embarked on a major revision, we decided to change the title. The previous title, <cite>Take Control of Mac OS X Backups</cite> had Mac OS X in it to clarify that the ebook did not cover Mac OS 9! The new ebook is called <cite>Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac</cite>.