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Dr. Mac's Guide to Backing Up Your Mac
By Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus


Chapter 1: Introduction to Backing Up

Why backup? The answer is, "because you must." If you care a teeny tiny bit about your files-your Quicken data, the novel you're working on, your lesson plan, digital photos, songs, movies, or whatever-it-is-on-your-hard-disk-that-means-anything-to-you, listen closely.

If these files are not backed up -- somehow -- you run the very real risk of losing them forever.

I've said it a million times and I'll say it again... There are only two kinds of Mac users-those who have lost data and those who will lose data. The fact is that every single hard disk ever made will crash and die someday. And even if your disk doesn't die, files that were fine only yesterday can become corrupted and unusable for no apparent reason today. Finally, though it doesn't happen much on modern Macs, viruses and malware can infect your disks and files.

It's a fact of life... if you only have one copy of a file, someday that file could very well be lost to you forever. And that, gentle reader, is why you absolutely, positively must back up your files.

The Obligatory DriveSavers Plug

For those of you about to disregard my advice and not backup, here are a phone number and URL you should keep handy. They are for a company called DriveSavers and if your hard disk crashes and you haven't backed it up, they're probably your last and only hope. They are the kings of Mac hard disk recovery.

Scott Gaidano is DriveSavers' president. Say hi for me if you have to call them. Ask him how his Ferrari is doing. For what it's worth, Scott is a great guy. He says a lot of people read about DriveSavers in my columns and books, which is weird because I only mention DriveSavers when I write about how important it is to backup. Go figure.

Anyway, here's the deal: If you don't backup and something goes wrong with the only copy of that important file, or your entire hard disk, you're going to have to call Scott's company (or another drive recovery specialist). And it's going to cost you a lot more than a good backup solution.

That is the bottom line.

Scott hates when I say this, but DriveSavers charges a lot to recover your data from crashed and otherwise damaged hard disks (hundreds to thousands of dollars). And, although they're mostly successful, they can't guarantee that they can save any single file. You pay your money and you take your chances. Did I mention that Scott drives a Ferrari?

The phone number is 415-382-2000. Although if you need it, chances are you're not doing much Web surfing, here is the URL for their Web site anyway: http://www.drivesavers.com

So there you have it. You can choose to adopt good backup habits now, or you can spend even more money with a drive recovery specialist later (and with no guarantee they'll recover your files). Trust me on this-backup hardware and media are going to cost you a lot less than DriveSavers. And, of course, you'll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your precious data is safe, even if Klingons vaporize your home or office. And finally, you'll avoid that horrible sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you see an error message every time you try to open that very important document or when you turn your Mac on and it doesn't recognize your hard disk.

Relax. Don't worry. A reasonable backup routine can be painless and, depending upon your needs, relatively inexpensive compared to paying you-know-who to recover your data.

Now that you've made the wise decision to adopt a backup regimen, Chapter 2 -- Planning a Backup Strategy -- will help you figure out what files you should back up, and how many backups you need (as well as why you need more than one).

Onward!


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