Backing Up to Your iPod
Saving to your iDisk is great when you have an internet connection. But for those times you don't, an iPod is an easy to use alternative.
Backup lets you save to any FireWire drive. But the iPod's compact size usually means that it's the FW drive you have with you regardless of location. And that's essential for effective backup and retrieval.
The flexibility of Backup 3's Plan system means you're not limited to one style of backup or another. You can save to your iDisk when a network is available and to an external drive otherwise. Nothing gets mucked up. The separate Plans keep your backups compartmented and tidy.
Apple has published a handy how-to page for backing up to your iPod.
Restore Lost Data Files
Backing up is great, but restoring lost files is what's important after a crash. Backup 3 has added flexibility to this function so you can easily target the data you need.
Start by selecting the Plan you want to access, then choose Restore from the file menu (Plan -> Restore...). You're presented with a dialog box that lists the Previous Backups in the left column. If you click on one, you get a list of the items that backup contains in the center column, with empty check boxes beside each item. If you want to drill down deeper, such as with backed-up folders, click on the folder and you'll see a list of its contents in the right column. You can either pick individual files by checking their boxes or choose them all by checking the box next to the folder.
Restoring files is also easier in Backup 3. You can choose the backup session and specific files within it.
If you want to restore the files to a different location, then check the box "Restore to an alternate location." Finally, click the Restore Selection button to initiate the process.
iPhoto and iTunes Restoration: Not as Convenient
This Restore procedure works great for typical data files, Address Book, iCal, etc., but I'm not as hot on it for entire iPhoto and iTunes libraries. Why? The basic problem is that Backup 3 restores the files to the selected location, but iPhoto, for example, doesn't automatically import them. So you must import them after they've been restored. The same goes for iTunes music.
Earlier in the article, I recommend using Backup 3 for your purchased music. Despite the clunky restoration process for these types of files, I still think it's a good idea. Because your purchased music is worth quite a bit of money, and there's no alternative if its lost other than to buy it again, I think regular, automated backups are a good idea to protect your investment.
But for your overall iTunes library, I'm more in favor of occasionally dragging the entire iTunes music folder to an external hard drive. This method's much easier to restore, because you don't have to reimport the entire collection.
For iPhoto, I suggest that you use the archiving feature built into iPhoto instead of Backup 3. The advantage is that the photo database is preserved intact, so you don't have to reimport photos. Just put the archived disk in your drive and iPhoto recognizes it.
Overall, Backup 3 is a big step forward from previous versions. In addition to the new features, it's very stable and the user interface is attractive and intuitive. Combined with the increased storage included with your .Mac membership, Backup is a great way to add automated archiving to any Mac. I especially recommend it for friends and family who often don't have any workflow in place.
You can learn more about Backup 3 by visiting the Backup support page.
Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.
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two computers + one iDisk = not allowed
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