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Monday, August 6, 2007

Manually Back Up Your MacBook Laptop with .Mac

Subscribers to the .Mac online hosting service get a utility application called Backup 3 — a great application that saves a copy of your treasured data on just about any media on the planet, including

  • Your iDisk
  • An external USB or FireWire hard drive
  • Recordable CD or DVD media
  • Network servers
  • Your iPod

Before you get too excited about backing up to your iPod, heed this: Your iPod's tiny hard drive isn't meant to handle the same serious thrashing as a full-size external hard drive. Using your iPod as a backup destination isn't a great idea unless no other recording media is handy and you absolutely must have a backup.

Backup isn't built into OS X Tiger (the operating system that the MacBook uses), so you have to download it. After the compressed image file has been downloaded and mounted on your desktop, you see the Backup installation folder. Double-click the Backup.pkg file to begin the installation. After installation is complete, you can find Backup in your Applications folder.

You can manually back up your laptop whenever you like; just double-click the Backup application and you'll see the main Backup window. Beginning a backup is as easy as selecting the check boxes next to the items that you want to safeguard and then clicking Continue. Apple offers several default backup sets (or plans). If one or more of these plans fit the bill, you need only click Back Up; by default, the data is saved to CD or DVD media.

"But wait. What if I want to select folders or files for my backup that aren't in the default plans?" No problem, just create your own plan as follows:

1. From the main Backup window, Click the Add button under Backup Items — which bears a plus sign.

2. Click the Custom plan, and then click Choose Plan.

3. In the box at the top, type a new plan name for this group of files.

4. Click the Add button.

Backup opens a file/folder selection sheet.

5. Click the Files and Folders button.

6. Navigate to the file or folder that you want to back up and click it to select it.

7. Click Include this folder, and then click Done.

You return to the Custom Plan dialog box. You're limited to backing up a total of 100MB with a trial membership.

8. Click the Add button (again, bearing a plus sign) under Destination and Schedule.

9. Choose a destination and a folder to store the data using the Destination and Folder pop-up menus.

10. Click OK to save your changes.

11. In the Custom Plan dialog box, click Backup Now.

Your irreplaceable stuff is saved to your destination.

If you just want to create a new plan and don't need to back up data immediately, click Close in the Custom Plan dialog box instead of Backup Now to save your changes and return to the Backup window.

If you ever need to restore from your backup, click the desired plan from the Backup window and then click Restore. Backup leads you through the restore process with the same aplomb.

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