Two of my friends with Mac computers lost precious files within the past week because their hard drives failed and they didn't have their files completely backed up.
Do you have backups? Do you know how easy, simple, and cheap it is to back up your computer? What would you do if you lost all your files because your computer's hard drive failed?
Nobody wants to think about their computer breaking down! Nobody wants to spend money they don't have to on an already-expensive computer system. But it probably will happen to you. Yes, you.
On the other hand, you can buy a portable USB hard drive for less than US$100. When you get your drive, plug it in to your OS X machine running Leopard or Snow Leopard, and you'll see this prompt:
Click on the "Use as backup disk" button, and that's all there is to it!
If you want to make things even easier, you can buy a Time Capsule from Apple, or plug your USB hard drive into one of Apple's Airport Extremes and then your backups will happen wirelessly, so you don't even have to remember to plug the drive into your computer! These options are a little more expensive, but especially for laptop users they can be very handy.
If you can afford it, get a 1TB (1000GB) hard drive. At the very least, get one that's as large as you can afford - it needs to be bigger than the hard drive on your computer to work well with Time Machine.
The first backup will take quite a while so I suggest you set it up before you go to bed and let it run overnight. After that try to leave your drive plugged in as much as possible - at least plug it in to back up once a day. You can tell when it's done backing up several different ways, but the easiest is to look at your Finder's sidebar - when your Time Machine backup is happening, the two arrows beside the Time Machine drive will circle endlessly. Here's a snap taken while my backup is active:
Remember to click that "eject" symbol (or turn off your computer) before you unplug your USB drive each time!
For Time Machine, that's all there is to it. There's no complicated geek knowledge needed to do this! Apple designed Time Machine to be backups "for the rest of us". There are other ways to back up Mac computers, and some of them may suit some people better, but for simplicity and ease of getting started Time Machine beats everything else hands down!
So, are you getting yourself backups for Christmas this year? Can you really, truly, honestly tell yourself that spending $100 on USB backup drive now is worse than dealing with losing all your files and your assistive technology set up and your applications and your work or school files when your hard drive fails? Because odds are, you'll probably have a hard drive fail at least every 5 years - you really should take out the insurance of getting this drive for yourself. Go out now - or use the links in this article - and order yourself a hard drive or a Time Capsule. You really do deserve it.
- Ricky Buchanan