I cannot emphasize enough how important backups are. It saddens me when a client calls saying their computer will not start up and they do not have a backup. Usually, recovering files (pictures, documents, etc.) from that situation starts at $1000. Backups on Macs could not be made easier. All you need is an external hard drive (less than $100) and your Mac takes care of the rest.
The backup app in your Mac is called Time Machine and it is brilliant. After the initial total backup, it simply looks at your Mac every hour for new or changed files and then adds them to the backup. It is called Time Machine because after you have been backing up for some period of time, you can access the backup drive and look at your Mac as it was at different times in the past. For example, if you have been backing up with Time Machine for a year and you remember you deleted a file about 6 months ago, you can go onto your backup drive, choose a time just before you deleted the file and retrieve it! Brilliant! How much history your Time Machine retains depends on how much stuff you have and how large your backup drive is.
Time Machine backup is easy, fast and built in, however it has two glaring flaws:
- It may not protect your data in a disaster (fire, flood, storm, etc).
- It may not protect your data if your home is robbed (if the bad guy grabs all your tech gadgets, your Mac and its backup are likely gone).
To address Time Machine’s flaws I also recommend using an offsite backup for your Mac. The easiest way to do this is with an online backup service. These services usually cost about $50/year per computer. They download a small app to your Mac (or PC) and it runs in the background just like Time Machine. The first backup will take a while (hours to days, depending on how much stuff you have). Recovering files from online backup services is slower than with Time Machine, however they do protect you from Time Machine’s two glaring flaws.
For an online backup service I use and like Backblaze. It is very unobtrusive, running in the background. It backs up your entire Mac and any directly attached drives (except the Time Machine drive). The service is $50/year with unlimited backup size.
Here is a link to get Backblaze: http://www.backblaze.com/partner/af5928
To be honest I do get a very small commission, however, I recommend Backblaze over its competitors because it is indeed better.
So, you have been warned. Please do not be one of my clients that makes that sad phone call to me about your Mac dying and you did not get around to backing it up.