Develop a bulletproof backup strategy!

Backing Up Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide

Second Edition
Joe Kissell

Joe Kissell takes the confusion and anxiety out of backing up your Mac and teaches you a simple method that will keep your data safe. He helps you choose the best backup software, hardware, and services for your needs. You’ll then learn how to set up and test your backups—and quickly restore files if something goes wrong!

This product has been discontinued.

Joe Kissell has been writing about Mac backups since 2004, so you can benefit from his experience by reading this book. You’ll learn about the three components of a solid backup strategy and figure out the best way to adapt that strategy to your needs. Joe covers the hows and whys of backing up your Mac, the benefits and limitations of Time Machine (as well as alternatives to it), and 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.

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 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 key features to look for in a backup app and find tips on using several popular tools. You’ll also discover the pros and cons of 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: You’ll learn how to back up and restore individual files, app-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.

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.

Version 2.2 includes a few small corrections and updates:

  • Added notes to identify a few affiliate links

  • Included information about new products in the topics “Hard Drives Are Larger and Cheaper” and “Interface Options Evolve”

  • Updated the sidebar “USB 3.1, USB-C, and Thunderbolt 3” to cover the MacBook Pro models introduced in late 2016

  • Mentioned in “Decide Whether to Buy a Time Capsule” that Apple appears to have discontinued development of its standalone networking products, providing yet another reason to be circumspect about purchasing a Time Capsule

  • Added several clarifications about NAS devices to the topic “Network Storage Devices,” which now paints them in a generally more positive light as backup destinations

  • Removed a sidebar about a device called a Transporter, which has been discontinued

  • Corrected the description of how to enable or disable Time Machine when running Sierra; see the topic “Time Machine Basics”

  • Added information about the location of directory backup files stored by the latest version of Techtool Pro in the topic “Items to Consider Excluding”

  • Updated the instructions in “Migrate Between Local Drives” and “Migrate to a Time Capsule or Network Volume” to cover changes in recent versions of Disk Utility

  • Mentioned a third-party iOS backup utility, iMazing, in the topic “Back Up an iOS Device”

  • Read Me First
  • Introduction
  • Quick Start
  • Plan a Backup Strategy
  • Reassess Your Backup Strategy
  • Choose Backup Software
  • Choose Backup Hardware
  • Prepare Your Hard Drive
  • Configure and Use Time Machine
  • Use Other Versioned Backup Software
  • Create and Use a Bootable Duplicate
  • Store an Extra Backup Offsite
  • What to Do When Disaster Strikes
  • Manage Your Media
  • Consider Special Backup Needs
  • Consider Special Backup Needs
  • Teach This Book
  • About This Book
  • December 12, 2016 — With the release of version 2.2 of this book, which brings it up to date with current operating systems and third-party products, Joe has no updates planned for the near future.

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