Be Prepared!

        Not just a Scout motto, but a good reminder to all of us, “Be Prepared.” Our main consideration today is be prepared by backing up what’s on your computer. Hopefully you’ve got an exterior drive that’s lit up, doing its job with Time Machine, as you’re writing on your computer. So what happens when the unexpected happens? What about an electric surge or malfunction of the transformer out there in the alley?
        Surge protector strips might help. How about an APC Back-UPS device? Or, better yet, a whole-house surge protector from APS?
        We experienced a problem just last week with the alley transformer. Four neighbors were also affected. Interesting what got fried and what didn’t. Good-bye to my dishwasher, microwave, fluorescent light in the laundry room, 3 radios, the doorbell, and a couple of surge protector strips. Thankfully, not hurt were the computers, printers, TV, and washer and dryer.
        SOS to some knowledgeable guys from PMUG. “Would an additional backup device that’s only plugged in once a day to use, then unplugged, be a good idea?” was my query.
        John Carter emailed, “For my iMac, I have a 500GB USB powered hard drive that is solely dedicated to being a fairly recent clone of my internal hard drive, and once I update the clone, it is put away in the closet. I only update it once every few months. I also have Time Machine backing up to a 1TB hard drive. If I should lose my internal drive — or the entire computer — I can boot up off the clone and restore from the Time Machine. I also have another 500GB USB powered hard drive that I back up my personal files to. This one gets updated fairly often and then is unplugged and put aside. Now, I have two machines, an iMac and a MacBook Pro, and they are pretty much a clone of each other. The MacBook Pro has its own Time Machine hard drive. So if one goes down, the other is brought up to date from the backup of the down machine and I’m no worse for wear. And since both machines have the same operating system and complete set of applications, I only need one bootable clone for both machines.
        "Industry standard backup methods is to have one set of full backups onsite and another duplicate set of backups offsite. The onsite backups are incremental every day and the offsite backups are full backups once a week. The weekly backups are rotated every four weeks so that only four devices are needed for the weekly backups. One device is used for the daily incremental backups. These daily backups are accumulated on that one device until the end of the week when it becomes the full weekly backup. A duplicate is made of it and sent offsite. Every fourth week one of the weekly backups comes back from offsite and becomes the next daily incremental backup device. Once a year, or as often as the company’s policy dictates, the backup devices are replaced with new ones.”
        John summarized, “You can never have too many backups. Choose what is critical to you and be very paranoid about it.”
        Jim Hamm wrote, “I recently purchased a small external drive from Amazon, a Buffalo Technology MiniStation Stealth 500 GB USB 2.0 portable external Hard Drive HD-PCT500U2/B (black). It is very small, quiet and only $50. I’m quite pleased with it and would buy another one.”
        David Passell went into detail, “I bought two My 500GB Passports about two (or three) weeks ago from Best Buy. One was specifically for Mac, the other for PC. I set up/partitioned my Passport for Mac as a clone for the Mac HD;  I purchased the fully featured SuperDuper. The internal Mac HD was 120GB and was getting limited in free space. I created a sandbox, in a much smaller partition, on the passport from which I always start. I also have some items I save on a partition that is just "passport.” It works very well. if I disconnect it (while the Mac is off), the Mac will restart from its internal HD. When starting/restarting, hold down the OPTion key and select the drive or sandbox to start from. The System Preferences startup disk does not work.
        "As for the PC Passport, I connected it to a Windows 7 Dell. it backed up the machine two ways. (1) I used the 'smart' software that came with the Passport and found it only backed up Data. I used the backup software that is part of Windows and it backed up (I think) the whole computer. I am really not very familiar with Windows and have difficulty telling where anything is, or what is running.
        "As for writing to the PC Passport if I plug it into the Mac: I obtained Mac Fuse and NFTS 3G. That combination of 'other' system preferences allows transparent writing to the disk. Before installing those, I could only read from an NFTS-formatted drive. Formatting a drive to NTFS is another matter. It appears more involved. Several forums simply say find somebody with a Windows machine.
        "I bought a Seagate Free Agent several weeks ago. It had a lot of movie promotional material on it; one movie I could watch free, and about 150GB of movies I would have to 'subscribe' to. It seemed clunky and I returned it.
        "I purchased a WD My Book 3TB drive hoping to replace the 500GB that I have been using since 2008 for Time Machine. It was PC formatted but I repartitioned it for Mac OS extended Journaled it to use for Time Machine and other things. It was totally unsuitable. It would not automatically mount on Mac turnon. I reformatted it (on a PC) to NTFS, restored the software that was on it, and returned it for credit."
        David’s recommendation: “As far as power surges are concerned, I strongly recommend putting a UPS (I've been using an APC for years) between your equipment and your power lines. I also installed a power surge protector right inside the main breaker box (keep one hand behind your back and wear rubber soled sneakers when you do this :).  I also have a UPS between the power line and my VCRs and DVD recorder. That way recordings and timer settings are seldom lost except for very extended outages.   
        Jim wrote again to emphasize, “The most important thing about backing up is to do it. Another aspect that's important—and which I just recently did—is to have a bootable backup clone. A couple of programs to do this, and which are mentioned often in blogs, are Super Duper and Carbon Copy Cloner.”
        Don got us started now, buying two APC Battery Backup units that each handle 6 outlets. But, that’s just the start, so the project continues . . .
        Review the basics: A 5 minute video about Time Machine
        A helpful article from Macworld on what and how to backup.
        So, what do you think, and how can YOU be prepared? Are you backing up? Are your backups secure?
        See you at Saturday's PMUG meeting!