Back up help - no idea!

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by leccy, May 6, 2014.

  1. leccy macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2014
    Hi all,

    I'm after some advice on backing up my macbook air, I know I should do it but I'm not sure how!

    Ideally I'd like something that can be setup to automatically back up absolutely everything regularly without deleting things from the back up that have since been removed from my laptop. My laptop is getting very full now so I'd like to basically dump the contents on the back up so they're still accessible and keep only the most recent work/pics etc on the actual laptop.

    I work as a journalist so needs to be accessible wirelessly, sometimes I'm at home, sometimes in the office, pub/meeting etc! I'd like to be able to access this at all times if this is even possible?

    The apple shop advised me to go time machine/time capsule route (as they would!) but I've heard these are unreliable and expensive (per gb)

    MacBook Air running Mavericks OS X 10.9.2
    At home I have BT Infinity fibre optic broadband with a BT Homehub 5

    I've lots of family photos etc I want to keep but obviously they're filling up my machine and making it hard to work!

    Any advice welcome please!
  2. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    First things first. This is a very simple explanation - and there is more to it … but perhaps it will help.

    There is a difference between a 'Back up' and an 'Archive'. They do two different things, and you achieve them in different ways, often.

    A 'back up' is a copy of your computer's contents right now (a snapshot if you will) and it is used to get your computer back to where it is… right now… should the contents be lost or corrupted. Ideally a back up is updated often - every in real time to once a minute to once a day - so that if you need to use it to recover from an incident there is a minimal amount of stuff that has not been copied over to the back up. Generally back ups are written over regularly. You are copying the contents of your HDD over to the back up media each time you use that media to do a back up.

    An 'archive' is a copy of your stuff that is then stored away for an extended period of time so that you can go back and access or recover old files that have been subsequently deleted, altered, or updated. Ideally an archive copy is never written to once it is created.

    Generally speaking you back up more source material than you archive… though if create archives on a regular basis (once a week for instance) you will end up storing a lot of archives. Material that doesn't get changed often probably doesn't need to be archived as often as material that gets changed a lot.

    One of the less obvious features of an archive is the ability to recover a file that suffered silent corruption. For instance you have a photo that you copied to your computer a year ago. It was fine then… but you haven't looked at since. At some point it gets corrupted - but you don't notice because you haven't looked at the photo. It may be backed up… but you are backing up the corrupted version since you are copying what exists right now. If you had created and stored an archive a year ago - before it got corrupted - you would be able to go back and recover the original version of the photo.

    Time Machine sits in the middle ground of back up and archive. It makes copies on a frequent basis… so it's a back up. But it also keeps old copies for a length of time even if the file is changed or deleted. So it's an archive as well. I believe the term is a 'versioned back up'. The length of time it keeps files is limited by how big the Time Machine disk is. When it fills up, it starts deleting the oldest material to make room for the new material it is copying. In a true archive you could keep the old material indefinitely.

    In your case you are talking about two different things. You want to clear stuff off of your lap top… so that is an archive. But you also want a back up in case of a problem. Time Machine, imho, is a great starting point for you. It is easy and simple and just works. No archive/back up system is worth sh%t if you don't use it. What you are paying for with a Time Machine is convenience. You can set up your own external disk to work as a Time Machine back up fairly easily - if you want to do some of the work yourself and save some money.

    However, you also need to create an archive (to move your stuff off the laptop) and Time Machine is not designed to do that. There are several services that will let you access copies of your files over the internet wherever you are. I use Dropbox… but there are others and you should do your own research (by asking questions here for instance) to determine what is best for you. Start by simply trying to figure out what you need it to do.

    Hope this helps…

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