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Dated: Oct. 31, 2010

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Mac OS

Better to face it. Your Mac isn't invincible, while it may be less vulnerable to viruses and spyware than PCs. It is possible for your Mac to get stolen or suffer from a hardware failure like a hard drive crash. If and when that happens, what will it be to you? Will it be a catastrophe, something that you just cannot get your head around, or will it be an expensive and annoying inconvenience but otherwise fine? It depends entirely on whether or not backup your data, and how well and how often.

The truth is that the loss of a machine hits us financially and creates immediate inconvenience. However, the loss of an accumulation of information that was stored on the computer is what leaves long lasting ravages. It is possible to buy another machine and get over the financial loss, but data once lost is lost forever, especially if your machine is stolen.

If you are using a Windows machine, you know how to automatically back up your hard drive. There’s an automatic utility which you can use to backup your data on Windows. However, till Mac OS Leopard’s Time Machine backup facility is released, or if you are a UNIX command line expert and can use the OS X UNIX methods to backup, you’ll still need to figure out a way to backup your data. Mostly this involves using third party tools. The good news is that some of these tools come for free. You can carry out versioned data backup, system cloning and off-site backup using these tools.

Mac backup

Version Backup Data Using SilverKeeper

The most important data on your system comprises items that you modify and update most often. Loss of this data represents loss of many hours of your work. It makes sense therefore that you backup these files, multiple times, at different ages, so that you have different versions of the files at any time. To create versioned regular backups, you can consider using LaCie's SilverKeeper, a free tool that supports incremental backup, file exclusion, multiple backup profiles and schedules. You can automate SilverKeeper to wake up your Mac and take backups when you sleep. You can select source and destination folders, set a schedule and let the tool do its work. This way, the information that you update everyday can be saved as a fresh copy each day in its updated state.

Alternatively, you can consider using a tool such as iBackup. It comes with some extra features, such as automatically naming a backup folder by date.

There are other pricey commercial alternatives that you can invest in if you want to. However, free tools such as the ones discussed above can do the work for you without creating a hole in your pocket.

If your hard drive crashes and you want to be up and running instantaneously, you will want a full , including the whole operating system, applications, system settings and data. You can do this without problem with the free version of SuperDuper, a tool that can clone your Mac's hard drive to an external, bootable disk, thus making a copy your entire system. You can plug this into another Mac and start up instantly if your Mac’s hard drive were to crash.

David Ritchie is an expert software development writer. His current area of specialism is .

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