• Explore the magic and the mystery!
  • The Tech Night Owl's Home Page
  • Namecheap.com





  • Waiting for Leopard Book IV: Backup Salvation

    October 23rd, 2007

    I feel like a broken record (you do remember records, right?) when I keep preaching the backup religion, yet when Apple said that roughly 26% of my fellow Mac users backup anything at all, I had to feel extremely disappointed.

    The news that only a fraction of that number routinely used backup software was even more frustrating. Consider how many backup applications are available, ranging from Apple’s own Backup, which comes with your .Mac membership, to my favorite, SuperDuper!

    Nor is it a matter of ease of use. Most of these applications have simple setup assistants or configuration panes that take the drudgery out of the process. You don’t even have to be around if you just create a scheduled backup, and make sure your Mac and your backup medium are running at the appointed time. Barring a power outage, you’re good to go.

    Now one of my long-time acquaintances, a graphic artist, keeps pestering me to set up a backup solution for him. He even pays me to accomplish the task from time to time, and, when I do establish a proper backup program for him, I test it and make sure it’s functional, then deploy it on his network. Alas, a few weeks later, something is broken on his end, and he never gets around to fixing the problem or asking me for assistance.

    Then there’s that client who only phones me when he’s panic-stricken about a problem with his Mac systems. Usually it’s the lost data, because he keeps ignoring my advice about backups.

    To these people and millions of others, I am grateful that Apple came up with Time Machine. Mind you, I’m not going to blow any nondisclosure agreements and tell you anything but what you’ve read in Apple’s own online descriptions about Leopard’s capabilities. But I’m extremely optimistic that they have found the magic bullet to encourage all of you to perform regular backups.

    Best of all, Time Machine will allow you to return to a specific state with a file, folder or even your entire drive. So if an update goes badly, or you trash a file by mistake, you can get it back, just like that!

    Of course, you do need some sort of backup medium to store the backup sets created by Time Machine. It doesn’t just happen, nor will those files be stored on your startup drive or partition. Here’s where some uninformed critics are having at Apple for specifying that “Time Machine requires an additional hard drive (sold separately).”

    In the narrow-minded view of some, that’s a bad thing, to have a second storage device to protect yourself against losing your data. Fortunately, I do not live in that alternate universe where the laws of common sense apparently do not apply, so I’ll just make a few points.

    First of all, external drives are pretty cheap these days. You can get FireWire and USB devices (and some that include both ports) for less than $100 with sufficient storage space to accommodate the needs of millions of Mac users. Add another $100 or $200 to your budget, and you’ll match even the larger drives provided with today’s high-end Macs.

    If you have a PowerMac or Mac Pro, you can even install one or more internal drives, if that’s what you prefer, and save a fair amount of money, since you don’t have to pay for the external cases and various and sundry interface components.

    All right, I realize backups may be less convenient for a note-book computer, since you don’t want to have to carry around too much stuff for your various travels. In my case, I actually have a spare 120GB note-book drive in a tiny bus-powered enclosure that’s stored in my MacBook Pro’s carrying case. So, you see, I have no excuses to offer. The thing is tiny enough and light enough not to disturb my routine.

    Sure, I suppose you can say that Apple is in league with those struggling hard drive companies to sell more product. Indeed, you’ll find some extra drives at Apple’s own retail shops and its online store, and you can bet they make a decent profit from every unit sold.

    You might also suggest that Apple wants to put the companies who make backup software out of business. But nothing about Time Machine prevents them from building in new features that might match or eclipse what Apple can do in Leopard.

    Besides, as much as I like some of those backup applications, they are, in the scheme of things, abject failures. You see, Apple wouldn’t need to create Time Machine if large numbers of Mac users were using the third-party products. But with market shares of just a few percent of the Mac user base, it wasn’t just the quest for fancy eye-candy to exploit Leopard’s Core Animation feature that brought Time Machine into being. Apple would not have brought those statistics to light if there wasn’t a serious problem that needed a convenient, nearly-seamless solution.

    Now I can’t say that Time Machine is the be all and end all of backup software. But if it is as easy to use as Apple’s public demonstrations and online presentations claim, it may spark a much-needed revolution.

    So tell me, dear reader, do you have a backup solution that you use regularly to protect your data? And, if not, are you going to try Time Machine — or even upgrade to Leopard? This inquiring mind wants to know.



    Share
    | Print This Article Print This Article

    13 Responses to “Waiting for Leopard Book IV: Backup Salvation”

    1. shane blyth says:

      Yes . Superduper.. fast and simple and i can boot off it if my system hard drive dies. Biggest issue i see is that Laptops are now so popular that an external drive has to be plugged in to backup too.. If people have to think or remember to do this then I don’t see it happening very often if ever.. Not sure the solution for laptop owners. Is there such a thing as wireless backup to an external drive in your house. It see your Laptop as you walk in the home/office wirelessly and then goes or better chek this and backup if it has changed.. hows that for an idea? maybe it exists , I don’t know. Then again someone has to think about this and set it up.. Maybe all laptops should come with a built in second drive for backups only.. yeah right as if that will ever happen.

    2. Yes . Superduper.. fast and simple and i can boot off it if my system hard drive dies. Biggest issue i see is that Laptops are now so popular that an external drive has to be plugged in to backup too.. If people have to think or remember to do this then I don’t see it happening very often if ever.. Not sure the solution for laptop owners. Is there such a thing as wireless backup to an external drive in your house. It see your Laptop as you walk in the home/office wirelessly and then goes or better chek this and backup if it has changed.. hows that for an idea? maybe it exists , I don’t know. Then again someone has to think about this and set it up.. MAybe all laptops should come with a built in second drive for backups only.. yeah right as if that will ever happen.

      Not to rain on your parade, but where would you put that second drive? 🙂

      Peace,
      Gene

    3. shane blyth says:

      exactly… I was just brain storming.. but what do u know of any sort of wireless backup like i suggested.. beat that is just a nutting dream of mine too ?

    4. exactly… I was just brain storming.. but what do u know of any sort of wireless backup like i suggested.. beat that is just a nutting dream of mine too ?

      Are you referring to, perhaps, the latest AirPort Extreme with its USB network drive feature?

      Peace,
      Gene

    5. shane blyth says:

      yes sounds like that is a possible solution for us laptop users

    6. George Carrington says:

      Currently I use SuperDuper! twice a week, making a “Wednesday” and a “Sunday” backup. This way, if my midweek backup fails, I still have the weekend backup as a fallback – OK, so I may have lost a week’s work, but I’m no longer active in all directions on umpteen projects, so I think I can live with that (If I ever have to use one of my backups, I’ll know for sure!). Come Leopard I will go back to using an “old” (too small to hold two backups, so it got “retired” when I acquired a 250GB HD Mac!) externall drive for TimeMachine, and continue to run my bi-weekly backup. Overkill? Maybe, but old habits die hard – I still remember using 35mm mag tape at work.

    7. Dana Sutton says:

      For years I’ve used a satisfactory backup program and there are several questions I need to have answered before I toss it and switch to Time Machine. Some questions: a.) it doesn’t seem to be bootable, but if you use the Leopard install disk there is supposedly a “backup system from Time Machine” option. So I’ve read, but I’m not clear whether this works only with Mac A, or whether if (say) Mac A has been stolen or destroyed, it works equally well in restoring your data on Mac B, which may be a different model requiring a differently optimized system — i.e., how easy will it be to back up my data to a freshly-installed OS?; b.) does it work over a wireless network? Apple said it would, but has recently removed that promise from its Web site, so what’s the real deal?; c.) I have a 250gb external disk, exactly how soon will Time Machine fill it up? And once it has, is it going to ask for me to give it permission to toss old versions each and every time it performs a backup? That could get tiresome real fast. d.) When it performs its hourly routine, is it going to affect my Mac’s performance while it’s doing its thing in the background? (I suspect I might be happier if I could set it to perform backups at intervals of my own choosing rather than the factory-set 1 hour) e.) how easy is it going to be using T. M. to back up my Mac and also my wife’s down the hall? If the answers to these questions keep me happy, I’ll probably switch over to it. Otherwise I can very happily keep what I have now.

    8. Ivo Wiesner says:

      I have the same thoughts/reservations about TM as the previous poster. I use my main machine for recording audio, consequently anything that might use up a lot of CPU power and cause sudden spikes would not be welcome. However, if it is possible to programme TM to do back-ups at specified times, it might be a great tool. Otherwise, I’ll stick with SuperDuper, which works very well.

    9. rwahrens says:

      One question that I have not seen answered on Apple’s website:

      Will TM work to back up ALL users on a machine while the machine is turned on, but nobody’s logged in?

      Or does it require a logged in user to work, like all the rest?

    10. I have the same thoughts/reservations about TM as the previous poster. I use my main machine for recording audio, consequently anything that might use up a lot of CPU power and cause sudden spikes would not be welcome. However, if it is possible to programme TM to do back-ups at specified times, it might be a great tool. Otherwise, I’ll stick with SuperDuper, which works very well.

      This is the typical question that won’t be answered until Leopard is out and folks have a chance to put it through its paces, just as we will.

      Peace,
      Gene

    11. Jeff says:

      I’ve been using Apple Backup with regularly scheduled daily, weekly, and monthly backups, depending on the file type. I recently set up SuperDuper to create a clone of my laptop drive on a small external drive that I had lying around so I can have a fallback in case Friday’s Leopard upgrade goes wrong (which I’m 99% certain it won’t).

      I’m very much looking forward to giving Time Machine a try.

    12. David C says:

      While Time Machine can work in any application that manages files or data, it has very interesting implications for the Finder. While much has been celebrated and lamented about the spatial metaphor in the Mac Finder, Leopard will bring a temporal dimension to the table. What separates TM from other approaches to backup is that it presents the user with a view of their entire filesystem as it was during a particular day or week in the past. It’s utterly brilliant.

    13. Curt E. says:

      I have been using SuperDuper set to back up daily on an additional internal HD. It is bootable and runs during other operations. Great program. I have ordered Leopard and will use Time Machine (on a third internal HD) for stuff that my daily SD backup might miss. If this sounds like belt and braces, it probably is!. but isn’t technology wonderful.

    Leave Your Comment