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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...

How Do I Back Up My Blue & White!?!?
June 10th, 1999

Howdy! And welcome... I trust you know why I've brought you here, but if you don't, it will all be clear soon enough. This week we explore backup options for "new" Mac's, some Word problems, and a message from the infamous RugDog(!) asking about a strange startup issue. We have what appears to be the definitive word on multiple hard drives in a StarMax, too! So... as always, e-mail any questions we haven't covered to [email protected], and read on to see what we have!

Tom writes, "My new G3 shipped with a hard drive that failed within a month (which Apple kindly replaced, of course), and the situation taught me how important it is to have adequate backups. The only problem is, how?

I back up documents to Zip disks, mostly because I got a free drive from Apple as part of a rebate program. But backing up several gigs to a Zip just doesn't sound like much fun, nor am I happy about having backups on such fragile disks.

So what's a guy to do?"

Well, Tom, there are a couple of options. Let's first discuss the different possible methods of backing things up: tape drive, removable disk (e.g. Zip/Jaz/Syquest), CD-R or CD-RW, and network backup (to an FTP site).

There is always the option of installing a SCSI card in your Blue G3. This would then give you access to a plethora of backup solutions, including tape drives, removable disks, and CD-Burners. As you've probably discovered, there are far more options available with SCSI interfaces than there are for USB or Firewire. And, for less than $100 for a decent SCSI card, that's something that's worth considering.

But let's ignore SCSI for a moment and concentrate on the future that Apple has laid out for us, which appears to contain USB and, in some instances, Firewire. We don't have many options available yet, but there are some. AIWA Computer Systems has announced their TD-8000 Travan USB Tape Drive. It comes with Retrospect 4.1 and is touted as being very Mac-friendly. That looks to be a good option, and will likely be available within the next few weeks. As for CD-Burners, Sony has been having great successes with it's Spressa, a 6x/4x/2x USB-based CD-burner. With CD-R's being relatively cheap these days, and CD-RW (rewritables) available, it's worth considering this as a backup solution as well. Plus, if you buy this for backups, you get the added benefit of having a CD-Burner at home!

It's also worth mentioning Castlewood Systems' ORB drive. While not yet available for the Mac, this drive is a fantastic alternative to the Zip or Jaz. It's a 2.2GB removable disk. The drive retails for $199, and the disks are only $29 each. USB and SCSI will be shipping shortly, with a Firewire version not too far behind.

One other technology worth considering is Retrospect's Internet Backup feature. This lets you backup your data across the Internet to a trusted repository without the cost of actually purchasing a backup device yourself. Of course, this requires a stable and fast Internet connection, but for many home users with cable modems or DSL connections, this is worth considering.

I'm certain that within the next month (especially with MacWorld Expo coming up), there will be more and more options available for all of us.

Philip writes, "I have Office 4.2. It was working fine until I upgraded my OS to 8.5. Now excel still works but Word does not. Is this version of Word compatible with OS 8.5? If not, is there a solution other that buying Office 98?& quot;

Philip -- I have not had any difficulty running Word 6 with OS 8.5, nor is there any mention of problems on Microsoft's MacTopia site. However, there are a couple of things I would recommend in this situation. First of all, you need to update to the "latest" version of Word 6, which is 6.0.1a. This was available as part of Microsoft's Empowerment Pack for the Mac and may still be available from Microsoft. If you perform that update and you STILL have problems, I recommend performing a clean install of MS Office 4.2.1. There have been some strange problems with the way that Office registers itself on the Mac, and a clean install has fixed these problems more than once.

All that aside, I must step in here and put forth my recommendation for upgrading to Office98 for the Mac. This software is an absolute dream compared to previous versions of Word (OK, well, Word 4 and 5 were pretty good, but...). It's fast, it's smooth, and it's friendly. I would seriously consider this before spending a lot of time on Word 6.x.

"RugDog" asks, "I have a beige 233MHz G3 Tower. Recently when I start up the computer the menu bar and desktop appear but no drive icons. The only way I've found to continue is to force-quit the Finder. Then everything is fine. If I reboot without extensions this doesn't happen. If I reboot with OS8.5.1 base extensions it DOES happen so I don't think it's a third-party extension problem. I tried doing a clean install of OS8.5 and also an OS8.6 Upgrade and it hasn't fixed the problem. Any ideas ?"

Well, um, Rug, there are a few things here that could cause this problem. I would delete the Finder Preferences file and also do a "clean" rebuild of the desktop with a utility like TechTool. That may solve the problem, but it could be something else. I would also check your TCP/IP Control Panel. If it's set to "Ethernet" and "Obtain address via DHCP" then this could be the problem. Unless you're plugged into a network which has a DHCP server running, you'll have this problem while the Finder waits for the server to respond. DHCP is a protocol through which your computer's Internet Protocol (IP) address is assigned by a remote server. Many cable modem and DSL Internet providers use this method. However, if you're just connected to a simple home network or no network at all, then this could certainly cause this exact symptom.

There is, I fear, one other thing I'm forgetting. I know I've seen this symptom caused by something else in the past, but I just can't put my finger on it. Perhaps some reader feedback would be in order!


Update: StarMax IDE

In response to last week's discussion of StarMax IDE master/slave issues, Dean wrote: "There is a very simple answer to the problem of the slave drive. Because slave drives on EIDE channels are not supported on the StarMax, the only way to add an internal EIDE drive is to remove the CD-ROM which also uses EIDE. There are only two plugs for an EIDE drive."

Apparently the IDE bus on the StarMax is similar to the first revision Beige G3's from Apple in that they don't support more than 1 drive per bus.


...and that's all we have time for this week, folks. Be sure to send me your questions and tune in next week for the answers!


P.S. Have a Nice Day.

(this column written with the help of Rush: Different Stages -- the import with the bonus track!)

is President and CEO of The Mac Observer, Inc. He has worked in the computer industry as a consultant, trainer, network engineer, webmaster, and a programmer for most of the last 10 years. During that time he has worked on the Mac, all the various Windows flavors, Be, a few brands of Unix, and it is rumored he once saw an OS/2 machine in action. Before that he ran some of the earliest Bulletin Board systems, but most of the charges have since been dropped, and not even the FBI requests that he check in more than twice a year.

Ask Dave is here to answer all the Mac questions you have. Networking, system conflicts, hardware, you ask it, he can answer it. He is the person from whom all Mac knowledge flows....

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