I am a huge proponent of backing up your data. On my MacBook Pro I have priceless photos (wedding, honeymoon, world travel), important documents (résumés and taxes), and things I would rather not lose (fantasy football spreadsheets, various notes, etc.). I use Apple's built-in Time Machine application to make sure that I don't lose anything.
While working at the Mall of America, I can't tell you how many people that I talked to who told me that they intended to backup their Macs but never got around to it for one reason or another. Apple knew that the majority of their customers weren't backing up their Macs so they decided to make the process easier.
In the fall of 2007 Apple introduced Time Machine with Leopard. Time Machine is installed on every Mac sold since that time.
Time Machine is the best new feature in Leopard, perhaps the best feature ever added to Mac OS X. Put simply, Time Machine is a backup and recovery system that people will actually use. It effectively cuts the Gordian Knot of the age-old backup dilemma for normal users: "I know I should back up, but I never do. I wouldn't even know how to do something like that anyway." Well, enough of that.
To get started with Time Machine you first need to have an external hard drive. You can pick one up at Target, Wal-Mart, or Best Buy. If you want to order online and help me make a couple bucks I would recommend one of the following hard drives from Amazon.
- Apple Time Capsule 2 TB
- Western Digital My Passport Essential 500 GB USB 3.0/2.0 Portable External Hard Drive (Midnight Black)
- Seagate Expansion 500 GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive ST905004EXA101-RK
Once you have the external hard drive all you need to do is plug it in and a dialog box will pop up asking if you want to use the hard drive to backup your computer.
The first backup will take awhile (potentially a few hours) depending upon how much stuff you have on your computer. After the initial backup, it should only take a few minutes. If you have a Mac that sits on your desk all day I would encourage you to keep your hard drive plugged in all the time. Time Machine will backup any new files every hour. If you have a laptop I would encourage you to plug in your hard drive at least once a week.
One of the neat things about Time Machine is that you can "go back in time". You can edit a document and a few months later retrieve a previous version if you need to. If you accidentally delete a file you can also go back and retrieve it.
Time Machine is a fantastic technology that makes your life easier and should be able to save you in case of a crashed hard drive or accidental data loss.
If you or someone you know needs help getting the most out of technology please contact me.