Sunday, March 1, 2009

Data Backup Day

The GeneaBloggers group on Facebook hosts a monthly Data Backup Day on the first of every month. It's a very good idea.

If I worked off a desktop Mac, I would plug in my external 250gb Hard Drive, set up Mac's Time Machine. And then forget about it. The software would take care of itself, every hour making an incremental backup of any and all changes, allowing me to go back into time a hour, day, week or month to see what my computer looked like then. I've seen it at work flawlessly on my parents' computer.

But I work off a laptop. It would be extremely less portable if it were attached to an external hard drive at all times. At least this was my thinking up until composing this post and linking to Apple's article on their product, and actually reading what they said. They conclude with a paragraph for 'Mobile Macs'

Ready when you are.

When your mobile Mac is connected to your backup drive, Time Machine works as you’d expect. When it isn’t connected, Time Machine also works as you’d expect. It keeps track of which files have changed since the last backup and backs them up to your backup drive the next time you connect.

So the backups aren't hourly or daily - they're only when I remember to connect the drive. I'm sure I will be able to remember to connect to the external hard drive at least once a week. So my first activity for this month's Data Backup Day was setting up Time Machine.

But there are other backup issues. How does one backup one's blog? With Blogger it is easy. Click on Settings, and at the very top of the Basic Settings page is a link to 'export your blog'. The blog is exported in an xml format. How large will the file be? My entire history of blog posts here was 2.3 mb. Exported and saved on to my hard drive, Time Machine will backup this file with the rest.

I could export my genealogy software data into a gedcom file monthly - I have done this in the past - but I don't really have to with Time Machine - as it will back up the data file native to the software on its own.

I feel much more safe now than I have in the past. I have suffered a handful of computer crashes where I have lost files I thought I had backed up, but I hadn't.

[The image above is a modified version of Winslow Homer's Blackboard (1877)]

1 comment:

Ambar said...

If you should happen to neglect to plug in your external drive for ten days, Time Machine will (gently) nag you with a little "!" mark in its menu-bar icon.