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Backup Strategy for Mac OS X Using Disk Utility, Carbon Copy Cloner, etc.

A blast from the past! The following article is from one of my first websites, ca. 1999, and was updated a couple times throughout it's history. I am re-posting it here because my old website will be deprecated quite soon.

A few notes before we begin: Since the writing of this article, Time Machine came into being (along with Mac OS X 10.5), and has brought about a revolution in the way I maintain backups: my schema now is to have a local daily Time Machine backup to my external hard drive (I recommend a simple 1-2 TB External USB hard drive), then do a once-a-month DVD backup (stored offsite) of my most important files. For most home/small business users, this should be adequate.

Another revolution in data backup is the idea of backing up 'to the cloud' - with the prevalence of broadband Internet access, and the plethora of options for online storage, many companies offer solutions to online backup that were only dreamt of back in the late nineties. Some solutions I recommend: MobileMe (what I use, but not for everyone), Mozy, BackJack, and JungleDisk. (No, those aren't referral links—would I try pulling that on you?).

Backup Strategies for OS X

A question often asked on the Apple Discussion boards and by my fellow Mac users is: "How/when should I backup my Mac, and what is the best/quickest and most reliable way to do it." This is a complicated question, as there are many different ways one can go about backing up OSX.

There are three basic ways that I would like to cover in this article:

  1. Using Disk Utility to quickly and easily make a complete, bootable backup to an external drive;
  2. Using Carbon Copy Cloner to either (a) do the same thing as Disk Utility, or (b) to clone a certain folder or group of folders (another program that does a great job is SuperDuper!);
  3. Drag-and-drop copy files and folders for a quick backup of important files.

Connecting to a Windows File Share from a Mac

Here's a quickie: A lot of Mac users are on Windows networks, and need to sometimes connect to a shared folder on their network to share/retrieve documents with other Windows users. The easiest way to do this is to type in the path to the shared folder in the "Connect to Server..." dialog box. To do this, just:

  1. Switch to the Finder.
  2. Choose the "Connect to Server..." menu option in the Go menu (or press Command-K).
  3. Type in the path to your windows shared folder as follows:

smb://SERVER_NAME/share-name/folder-name

Hopefully, a dialog box will open up asking you to type in your username and password. If you need to find out the path of your windows shared folder, ask your network administrator. (note: private shared folders usually have a dollar sign after them—for example, smb://SERVER_NAME/share-name/folder-name$).

Taming Mac OS X Mail - Previous Recipients

Mac OS X's Mail program has a very handy feature called 'Previous Recipients' that does a very nice thing: It saves a list of every person and email address you've ever sent an email to. Then, it automatically fills in that person's email address when you type it or the person's name in the 'To' field in a new message. This is usually a good thing, because it saves you time (you don't have to look up the address again!).

However, there are times when you want to send an email to a specific email address for that person, and the email address that Mail automatically inserts is—gasp!—the wrong address. For example, I want to send an email to my friend John, so I type in "John" in the To field. Mail fills in the address I usually send emails to: john@example.com. But I want to send the mail to John's alternate address, johntheman@example.com... and I want to start sending emails to that address rather than to his first email address all the time. There are two easy solutions to this problem:

Midwestern Mac HQ - The Workstation

So, what computers, peripherals, and software do I use to manage all the websites I create, fix all your Macs, edit photos, and design graphics? I think this is an important question to answer, for two reasons: 1) You can see what I use, and see that I don't take any project lightly; and 2) You can hopefully learn something from my setup that can increase your own productivity!

My Workstation

(Click on the image above for a larger version, complete with detailed notes). You can see two basic themes from a general overview of the picture: First, there is a major lack of space at my workstation. Second, the space I do have is optimized to its fullest potential.

Master the Art of Screenshots - Mac OS X

Mac Screenshots

Having a screenshot of something you see on your Mac can sometimes be priceless, especially if something happens that you want to show someone else, or if you want to email someone a picture of how to do something on their Macs. Fortunately, Mac OS X has a ton of options for taking pictures of the screen, or even individual elements of the screen. We'll get into the basics, and we'll also show you some advanced techniques that many 'power-users' may not know of (yet).

Dealing with Locked Files on a Mac

Quite often, I am asked one of two related questions: 1) "Why can't I delete this pesky file? My Mac says the file is locked, and I can't delete it unless I do something special!" or 2) "Gaa! I can't copy <insert name here> to my flash drive or another hard drive because it's locked—help!"

Locked Trash File - Hold down Option to Delete

Well, I will answer those questions, and much more, after the break.

Laptop Temperatures: What's safe? How do I avoid overheating?

A question oft asked on the Apple Discussion boards (and other online computing forums) is: "My laptop seems really hot on the bottom* - is this safe?" This page will attempt to answer this and many other questions about iBook temperature concerns.

Why is it important to control (to a certain extent) your computer's temperature? Because a computer is like a car: if it's too cold, it won't run, and if it's too hot, it will overheat. As with all physical objects, a computer must obey the laws of physics, and when the temperature is too high or too low, things inside the computer won't work well. The optimal operating temperatures for your specific computer should be listed in the computer's manual.

Temperature Monitoring Software

There are many free software programs to help you monitor your Mac's temperature (whatever model it may be). My favorite is Temperature Monitor (free). Temperature Monitor allows you to see all temperature sensors in windows, the Dock, the menubar, or your Dashboard.

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