Backup strategies

With the hard drive in the Power Mac failing, it’s time to get serious about backing up. Of course, we use Retrospect to do heavy duty back ups: If you have a Mac, you need to have Retrospect. It’s simply one of those applications that everyone should have. We have an old Iomega Peerless drive that gets all the data from my an Claire’s User folders, which pretty much includes everything.
However, it’s worth checking when doing this kind of partial backup that it everything you want is actually being backed up, as some applications have a habit of putting things where you least expect them. MailSmith, for example, puts its signature files in the application support folder in the Libraries in your User folder. If in doubt, backup your whole Users directory, rather than just Documents.
We set up Retrospect to back up regularly, but sometimes it’s also good to get an on-the-fly backup, as losing just a few hours work can be critical if that few hours included an important part of a project. That’s where Apple’s Backup comes in. This little application will backup to either a .Mac account, or to CD-R (it requires a .Mac account either way), and for a small backup of a few megabytes it’s excellent. Backing up to .Mac also has the advantage that it’s off-site: If (God forbid) the house burns down, I can be up and running in a couple of hours (assuming I made sure to carry the iBook out of the burning building, along with the cats, my bike, and all those important books…)