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Backing Up Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide
Sep 20, 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 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, 10.11 El Capitan, and 10.12 Sierra.

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

Version 2.1 of this book fully supports macOS 10.12 Sierra and adds a few minor details. The most notable changes are:

  • Mentioned ransomware, and steps you can take to undo the damage it causes, in the topics “Why Keep Multiple Backups?” and “Why Store Backups Offsite?”

  • Added information about using Sierra’s Optimized Storage features in the topic “Can You Reduce Your Backup Footprint?”

  • Mentioned the return of RAID capabilities to the Sierra version of Disk Utility in the topic “Creating a RAID with SoftRAID”

  • Corrected information about the behavior of Parallels Desktop in the topics “Items to Consider Excluding” and “Duplicate a Virtual Machine”

Update Plans

September 20, 2016 — With the release of version 2.1 of this book, which brings it up to date with Sierra, Joe has no updates planned for the near future.

Posted by Tonya Engst