Sunday, November 05, 2006

Back Pedaling on Apple Backup

Straight to the point, I'm now back-pedaling on Apple Backup.

In theory, and for some people, Apple's DotMac backup application Backup could be an acceptable solution for backing up computer files. A successful backup strategy is demanding, requiring a high level of confidence and reliability. Human factors are equally as important as the backup application itself.

I currently discourage use of DotMac for backing up Mac files for the following reasons:
I no longer recommend Apple Backup, but if you do use Backup I recommend these steps:
Backing up data is a huge bother and expense but don't drive your Mac without one.

The pro's use Retrospect Express (or Retrospect Backup) backup software from EMC/Dantz. Retrospect is not free and it's difficult to configure but it's the most reliable solution, in my view of the world. Other acceptable applications include SuperDuper! and Deja Vu. The former is very easy to use but does not offer incremental backup. The latter offers incremental and network backups.

No topic is more difficult for me to address with clients than backing up data. I hate to do it as much as anyone else, and to do so with any confidence will take much more than DotMac.

Create multiple backup copies.
Do not rely solely on Internet backups. More desirable are data backups to DVD's, hard drives, tapes, and file servers.
Store backups in at least two different street locations.
Purchase commercial backup software to automate the backup process.

All computer hard drives fail. Those that don't fail, get corrupted or stolen. The only factor that I cannot predict in regards to the loss of data storage is when, not if.

If you have files on your Mac which you'd rather not have vanish, back them up. Nothing is more important to busy people than keeping the backup simple. To achieve this goal, backup the entire contents of your hard drive on an external hard drive or file server.

This isn't cheap. Not everyone needs all the bells and whistles. Your backup solution should meet your own individual backup needs. If you have a few dozen word processing files that can fit on a single CD, then burning a single 650 MB CD once a week might work for you. Few of us will get off so conveniently or inexpensively, though. DVD's hold 4.7 GB's of data and cost more. Hard drives hold more yet and cost more yet.

Design and implement your own backup system based on an analysis of:
The former is number crunching; the latter is a personal cost/benefit analysis.

At this time, I do not see a positive cost/benefit for Apple's DotMac Backup. Look elsewhere.

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