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How to back up a Mac: Four types of backup all Mac users should be using

David Fanning | March 8, 2016
What's the best and most secure method of backing up a Mac?

Deleted/missing files are a bit different. In those cases, relevant parts of the directory structure are not possible to salvage, but the actual file data may still be lurking, awaiting digital oblivion.

Recovery software is designed to piece together such data, recognise file types, and then present the salvaged documents to you; unfortunately, any list will be devoid of context and file names. This means that you can wait a few hours for your drive to be explored, only to be faced with folders full of PDFs, JPEGs, text documents and the like, named along the lines of file00011566.pdf. This can be a disheartening experience, but nonetheless at least gives you a chance to get important documents back, assuming you've the time to trawl through potentially thousands of documents. (Hint: Quick Look is very helpful when doing this.)

As we said, most recovery apps will at least let you explore a drive, get the recovery process going, and then preview documents, all for no outlay. However, once you get to the point of saving any number of recovered files, you will have to pay something. (Data Rescue, for example, will give you 2GB for free, but then charges $49 for the next step, which is up to 250GB.)

Naturally, the cheapest bet in terms of time and money is to never find yourself in this situation; and so if you ever do, take a long look at your current backup and drive-usage systems and see if there are improvements you can make.


If you want to be sure that your precious data - photos, music, videos and of course work - is safe from any kind of disaster, then there are multiple types of backup that will secure it. For immediate resurrection, with only minutes of downtime, a bootable local backup is what's needed. To be sure that not even the last ten minutes of work is lost, some sort of live cloud backup will do that. To withstand fire, flood, theft or other apocalyptic happening, an offsite backup is the only way to be sure.

Mac Backup Guru offers the smartest way of achieving both bootable and incremental backups. There's a lot more choice for live backups, with some free options that may make one work better than others. I'm a long-time fan of the platform and company agnostic Dropbox, but it's at the top of the price scale. I th does have a few more sharing options than the rest, but for those not already using it, it might not be enough to warrant the outlay. If budget is a concern or a free option is available, there's nothing wrong with any of the other services.


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