Read Take Control of Preview to discover Preview’s hidden features for editing images and manipulating PDFs.

Backing Up Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide
Jun 27, 2016
The Author

Joe Kissell has written more than 50 books about the Mac, including many popular Take Control ebooks. He runs Joe On Tech and is also a contributing editor of TidBITS and a senior contributor to Macworld.

Backing Up Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide, Second Edition

Develop a bulletproof backup strategy!

Joe Kissell has been writing about Mac backups since 2004. In this latest title, he explains the three components of a solid backup strategy and helps you figure out the best way to adapt that strategy to your needs. You’ll learn the hows and whys of backing up your Mac, understand the benefits and limitations of Time Machine (as well as alternatives to it), and discover how elements like bootable clones and cloud storage may factor into your overall setup. You’ll also discover how to deal with unusual backup needs and restore your data in an emergency.

This book covers 10.9 Mavericks, 10.10 Yosemite, and 10.11 El Capitan.

More Info

Hey, What’s This?
We can focus our attention on only so many books, so when our friend and longtime collaborator Joe Kissell proposed revisiting this topic in a book on his own, we jumped at the chance to bring it to you. It’s his book, not ours, so it looks different, but the content is great.

This ebook is designed to help you jump to the information you need, so you can get started with your backups without having to read the whole thing. You’ll learn how to:

  • Design (or update) the ideal backup system. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll find all the information necessary to assemble a reliable and easy-to-use backup system. If you’re updating an existing system, you’ll learn about what’s new in hardware, software, and online services that might affect the way you back up your Mac in the future.

  • Choose backup software. Apple’s Time Machine, built into OS X, is both free and easy to use. But it’s not the best choice for everyone, and even if you do use Time Machine, you’ll certainly want to supplement it with other tools. You’ll learn about the key features to look for when considering backup apps and find tips on using several popular tools. You’ll also discover the pros and cons of using cloud backup services, and get help choosing the right one. (An online appendix covers nearly 100 apps and services.)

  • Shop for hardware. For most users, hard drives make an excellent backup destination, but the range of options (sizes, interfaces, speeds, and more) can be bewildering. Joe helps you find the best backup hardware, whether it’s individual hard drives, RAIDs, Drobo storage devices, Time Capsules, or NAS devices.

  • Operate Time Machine. For readers who use Time Machine, the book explains its ins and outs. You’ll learn how to back up and restore individual files, application-specific data (such as contacts), and even an entire disk. You’ll also discover why and how to encrypt Time Machine backups and what to do if Time Machine misbehaves.

  • Make and maintain backups. Once you’ve selected hardware and software, you’ll need to know how to make your first backup, set up your backups to run unattended, and test them regularly to make sure they’re working as they should. This includes both versioned backups (which contain old file versions and deleted files) and bootable clones. And, you’ll learn about strategies for keeping extra backups offsite.

  • Deal with unusual backup needs. If you deal with exceptionally large files (such as audio and video files), spend a lot of time on the road away from your usual backup hardware, run Windows on your Mac, or rely on cloud services to store essential data, you’ll want to take extra (or different) steps to make sure everything is safely backed up.

  • Manage your media. What happens when a backup drive fills up, or becomes so old that you worry about its future reliability? What if you want to archive older files for posterity, but not necessarily maintain them as part of your daily backups? Joe explains how to deal with media management tasks such as these.

  • Recover lost data. Backing up data can be easy, but restoring it is often more challenging. When you discover that data is missing (whether due to a disk error, theft, or a simple mistake), you need to know the exact steps needed to recover it and get back to work as soon as possible.

What's New

The heavily revised second edition of Backing Up Your Mac has been updated to include coverage of OS X 10.11 El Capitan, and includes numerous other changes:

  • Changed all the and links to use HTTPS

  • Switched to using the term “macOS” (the new name for OS X starting with Sierra, due in late 2016) where possible

  • Updated A Note to Readers to reflect the availability of other books in this series—Maintaining Your Mac, Troubleshooting Your Mac, and Speeding Up Your Mac

  • Added a new section, Can You Reduce Your Backup Footprint?, about strategically reducing the amount of data you need to back up

  • Revised What’s New in the World of Mac Backups to reflect changes that have taken place since the first edition of this book was published

  • Added coverage of a unique cloud backup app called Arq

  • Included a new sidebar, Restoring Photos Data Using Time Machine, with advice about restoring data from Apple’s Photos app

  • Added new details about Backblaze in Self-Contained Cloud Backup Services

  • Expanded BYOS (Bring Your Own Software) Internet Backups to cover additional cloud storage providers, including Amazon Cloud Drive, Backblaze B2, and Google Cloud Drive

  • Updated the discussion of CrashPlan (in Choose Another Versioned Backup App, CrashPlan Tips, and Self-Contained Cloud Backup Services) to address changes in pricing and service offerings, and to mention my Wirecutter article comparing online backup services

  • Added a new section, Creating a RAID with SoftRAID, that discusses the use of software-based RAIDs as part of a backup strategy

  • Revised the instructions involving Disk Utility to account for the significant changes to that tool in El Capitan

  • Included a tip, Increase Time Machine’s Performance, that may speed up Time Machine (while potentially slowing down other things on your Mac)

  • Added a new sidebar in the Create and Use a Bootable Duplicate chapter, about Creating a Bootable Duplicate over a Network (with Carbon Copy Cloner)

  • In Perform a Safe Boot, clarified that a safe boot doesn’t require a complete shutdown, just a restart

  • Updated the sidebar Securely Deleting Old Backups to address the fact that El Capitan removed the Secure Empty Trash feature from the Finder and the Secure Erase features from Disk Utility

  • Added a sidebar, Ultra-Long-Term Archival Storage, about a novel (and expensive) way to preserve your data for centuries

  • Added a new section, Back Up a NAS, that provides some guidance on backing up data on a network-attached storage (NAS) device to another destination

  • Revised Back Up Data from the Cloud to include additional apps and cloud services

  • By popular demand, added a brief section about how to Back Up an iOS Device

  • Updated the online appendixes to reflect the latest versions, features, and prices of backup apps and online backup services

Update Plans

June 27, 2016 — Having just updated this book, Joe has no immediate or specific plans for when he’ll update it next.

Posted by Tonya Engst