Have you backed up recently? Time Machine and MobileMe

Posted: April 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: equipment | Comments Off on Have you backed up recently? Time Machine and MobileMe

Computer crashes, hardware failures, outages, obsolescence, theft, breakages — we don’t plan for any of these unfortunate situations to throw a wrench into our research and writing, but they do happen.  Perish the thought that the work that we’ve sweated blood into disappears without a trace.

So have you backed up recently?

I have two backup systems in place for use on my Macbook, both of which work very well and neither of which requires much attention at all.

  1. At home I have an external hard drive assigned to Time Machine.  Time Machine is a beautiful piece of work.  Once you set it up it will automatically back up your files at regular intervals. Even better, it preserves this information hour by hour, day by day, archiving rather than overwriting each subsequent back up.  Let’s say I want to see my system as it was saved on March 29, 2011.  It’s simply a matter of entering Time Machine, scrolling through the archived dates, and clicking on the one I want.  Maybe I want the 12:01 PM save or the 8:55 PM save? Not a problem.  (Hence the name “Time Machine”.)  When I’m at home working I back up every 15 minutes or so.  When I come home from a day of working away, I simply connect my laptop to the external hard drive and do one back up for the entire day.  Of course, if something happened to this external drive (if it was stolen, say, or violently shoved off the desk by my cat) I’d be in trouble so…
  2. I also use MobileMe in combination with MobileMe BackUp to store data in the cloud.  The particular MobileMe account that I have gives me a limited amount of space, so I’ve only earmarked a few important files (my dissertation, for one) to be stored.  Every day at the appointed time, my laptop connects to MobileMe and pushes my files out to the cloud, where these files overwrite the ones from the previous back up. For this to be accomplished my laptop needs to be switched on at the appointed time, and it needs to be connected to the Internet.  This solution is much more limited than Time Machine, of course, but it provides me with a back up to my back up, if you see what I mean.

I recommend both Time Machine and MobileMe, just as I strongly recommend having multiple back up solutions.  Multiple solutions are especially important if you work in the field.  In my case I never travel with my external hard drive, so having a cloud-based back up for those periods when I’m collecting data is especially useful.

What back up tools do you use?

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