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olga

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I have no idea what to use. Baboo is upgrading the operating system on his iMac, and he was told to back up all his data before he starts. What do you use to do this? I remember the days when we used to use disks, but they aren't big enough and I would have to use several of them for everything he has in that computer.

Is one of those little thumb-sized things big enough? I've seen them around, and I assume you plug it into the USB slot.

Or do I need something else?

Thanks for helping out Granny and don't laugh at me. *shakes finger*

olga

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thumb-sized things are called USB keys. sometimes the memory on them can be quite large but i wouldn't use them for a serious data back-up. you can use a detachable hard drive. you can get it at any hi-fi store such as best buy. you can just connect it to your USB port and back up the data that way. most hard drives can be configured for mac and pretty easy to use.

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Yep, we have an iMac and use an external hard drive. My husband has one because he creates really large music files. It is great for backup, I just drag my user icon (my husband and I have separate user accounts on the same computer) from the computer and drop it on the hard drive icon, and it backs everything up.

I have always called the tiny thumb things Flash Drives, they arent large enough to back up an entire computer.

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Okay, I can see that an external hard drive is the way to go.

However, if I could play devil's advocate for a few minutes----my sweet Baboo is in his 70s. His computer holds various documents he has created and some pictures on iPhoto. He has no music stored, or videos, or games, or anything that is a huge file. Like most of us old farts, he mostly uses the computer for email and going on the internet.

So with such little stuff on his computer, do you still think he needs an external hard drive for backup? (I'm trying to help him find the least expensive way to do it.)

olga

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I also vote for hard drive. If he doesn't have a ton of stuff, you don't need a terribly big one, which means you don't have to spend all that much on it (I've seen moderately-sized ones from reputable companies for no more than $50), and with OS X, you can just tell it to use Time Machine to do automatic backups whenever you have the hard drive hooked up, which is very convenient and much simpler than trying to manage all of that stuff manually. It just magically keeps a copy of all files you have at multiple points in time (so if you delete something but later find out you still need it, you just "travel through time" to the point where it still existed and grab an old copy of it), and if anything happens to your computer itself, you can restore it to exactly how it was at the time of the most recent backup or migrate it all to a new computer just as easily.

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If you can figure out how much hard drive space you're actually using, that might help you determine what you need. (I don't know anything about Macs, so I don't know how to go about doing it. In Windows you right click on the drive in My Computer. I assume Macs are just as easy.)

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On-line backup with Carbonite or Mozy.

Advantages

1) Data safe if your home burns down (or other disaster - lightening strike, flood, toddlers, etc.)

2) Data safe if all of your computer equipment is stolen

3) cheap

4) future-proof - when you get a new computer, you don't have to figure out how to re-install an external hard drive.

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On-line backup with Carbonite or Mozy.

Advantages

1) Data safe if your home burns down (or other disaster - lightening strike, flood, toddlers, etc.)

2) Data safe if all of your computer equipment is stolen

3) cheap

4) future-proof - when you get a new computer, you don't have to figure out how to re-install an external hard drive.

Disadvantages (at least with Mozy, which is the only one I have experience with):

1) It's incredibly slow

2) It's astoundingly, painfully slow

3) It's so aggravatingly slow that even with the fastest Internet connection money can buy, it can take weeks or even months to recover everything from them

Edit: And "figure out how to re-install an external hard drive" is generally precisely as complicated as "figure out how to plug in the USB cable".

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On-line backup with Carbonite or Mozy.

Is a horrible idea, for a number of reasons. Nalgas pointed out one of the biggest ones - they're insanely slow, and they'll suck up bandwidth while you're using them, so you can't do anything else either.

1) Data safe if your home burns down (or other disaster - lightening strike, flood, toddlers, etc.)

2) Data safe if all of your computer equipment is stolen

Believe it or not, you can actually move an external hard drive to a different location - a fireproof safe, a storage locker, your friend's house, a buried treasure chest, etc. So the disaster/theft argument doesn't really work in favor of the online backup companies.*

3) cheap

Mozy offers a 50 GB package for $5.99/mo ($71.88/yr), and a 125 GB package for $9.99/mo ($119.88/yr). I can get a 320 GB external drive from Newegg for one payment of $69.99, and expect to use that drive for the next 4 or 5 years. So, no, that's not true. Those online backup services are far more expensive than an external drive would be.

4) future-proof - when you get a new computer, you don't have to figure out how to re-install an external hard drive.

From what I can tell, both Carbonite and Mozy require proprietary software. If that software doesn't run on your new computer, or it's buggy, or the company goes bottom up, you're screwed. This is not an issue with an external USB hard drive - USB ports aren't going to disappear from computers any time soon, so the hardware is future-proof for the expected life of the drive, and you can use whatever backup method you want. A Time Machine drive can be browsed just like any other volume, so there isn't any need for proprietary software - anything that can read a MacOS volume can read the Time Machine drive.

* I do note that Time Machine probably won't work right if you disconnect the backup drive. But I don't think olga was concerned about disaster recovery or theft. It's possible to do incremental backups over a network or the Internet using your own hardware, but that's offtopic here. PM me if you really want to know.

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Thank you all for your suggestions! I learn lots of new stuff whenever I ask a computer question here at CB.

As it turned out, Baboo decided to use his little USB flash drive and it held everything he wanted to save.

I installed Snow Leopard on his computer yesterday, and it was really difficult. heh You put a disk in, follow a few directions, and then it whirrs for 42 minutes while you go stir the stew and punch the bread dough down. All of his stuff was still there when I was finished, and I even got his new printer hooked up and working in about 5 minutes.

So it's all done and he's in business with his iMac. Now we have to figure out what the hell "stacking" is.

olga

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Yes, he read about Time Machine so he thought that was pretty cool. I'm looking at the booklet that came with the system. It has lots of pretty pictures and absolutely no explanations of HOW to use the various features. Typical Mac. You spend thousands on the things and they don't even give you a manual.

olga

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The days of the printed computer manual are well behind us. However, there's a help menu on damn near every program, and there should be a "getting started" guide somewhere in the help system.

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Yeah, I know about the Help feature and I use it from time to time. The problem is that Baboo and I grew up reading instructions in books, and it's hard to get past that. Think about your grandparents and their level of competence on the computer---and that's us! :) But I admire the fact that Baboo will even try to do stuff on the computer because most people his age aren't into them at all.

With our first Macs 6 or 7 years ago, I bought the "Manual That Wasn't in the Box" or some title like that. It was very helpful because we had never owned Macs before and both of us had pretty rudimentary skills. We're better now, but some things are just difficult, or we forget how to do them. (Every time someone asks me for a screen shot, I have to take out my camera and photograph the screen because I can't remember which keys you press to get a screen shot.) :dunce:

heh

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Mozy offers a 50 GB package for $5.99/mo ($71.88/yr), and a 125 GB package for $9.99/mo ($119.88/yr). I can get a 320 GB external drive from Newegg for one payment of $69.99, and expect to use that drive for the next 4 or 5 years. So, no, that's not true. Those online backup services are far more expensive than an external drive would be.

Yikes! Rsync.net is $0.80 per gig per month so you don't have to pay for space you don't need. That's what I'm considering for crazyboards.

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Mozy offers a 50 GB package for $5.99/mo ($71.88/yr), and a 125 GB package for $9.99/mo ($119.88/yr). I can get a 320 GB external drive from Newegg for one payment of $69.99, and expect to use that drive for the next 4 or 5 years. So, no, that's not true. Those online backup services are far more expensive than an external drive would be.

Yikes! Rsync.net is $0.80 per gig per month so you don't have to pay for space you don't need. That's what I'm considering for crazyboards.

Yes, but you have the technical proficiency to use rsync, and you're running a web server that you don't have physical access to (meaning any backup would have to happen over the Internet). Most people can't say the same.

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Mozy offers a 50 GB package for $5.99/mo ($71.88/yr), and a 125 GB package for $9.99/mo ($119.88/yr). I can get a 320 GB external drive from Newegg for one payment of $69.99, and expect to use that drive for the next 4 or 5 years. So, no, that's not true. Those online backup services are far more expensive than an external drive would be.

Yikes! Rsync.net is $0.80 per gig per month so you don't have to pay for space you don't need. That's what I'm considering for crazyboards.

Yes, but you have the technical proficiency to use rsync, and you're running a web server that you don't have physical access to (meaning any backup would have to happen over the Internet). Most people can't say the same.

I was just comparing the cost of online backup services. I agree that for a home PC regular snapshots or differential backups to a backup drive makes the most sense.

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