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Why backup? Because if your hard drive makes that nasty "clunk-WHAM" noise, there's no turning back. Because computers assume funny shapes when exposed to flame. Because no amount of insurance will bring back Aunt Sue's secret apple pie recipe if a virus takes up residence. Suffice to say there are many reasons.
There are three general backup approaches: software, script, or by hand. Each has pros and cons, with a reliability edge towards software and a cost edge towards the other two.
There are several software products that will backup your files for you, with Dantz's Retrospect being the best-known commercial option. Retrospect is readily configurable by schedule, source, and destination, and works on multiple platforms if necessary.
For cheaper (if less polished) options, visit Download.com and see their Mac -> Utilities -> Backup section, which lists a plethora of freeware and shareware backup choices.
Unrelated to movies, a computer script is a sequence of commands your computer executes, usually performing a single task (i.e., creating a file backup). There are several script creators for the Mac and most can work with files, enabling you to create one-step backups. Some script creators can connect schedules to your script, allowing for backup at a time when you're not using the computer.
The cheapest script option is AppleScript, which comes with the Mac OS. If you're not already familiar with AppleScript, you need to find and open the Script Editor application, a program that creates and edits AppleScripts.
For the purpose of backup, you should use the Record feature, which works like a VCR for your computer, making a list of each command you execute until you press the Stop button.
Creating a Backup Script
A backup script requires that you've already set up File Sharing and mounted another computer on the network, so do that first if you haven't already. Then open the Script Editor, create a new script, and push Record. On the Desktop, select the disk or folder you want to back up and drag it to the network computer's icon, which starts the copy. Return to Script Editor and push Stop.
Save your script as a non-editable copy and check Never Show Startup Screen, which turns your script into a program. Close Script Editor and double-click the icon for your new script, which should start the backup. You can use this script anytime you need to back up that disk or folder.
There are many script or macro options, AppleScript is just the tip of the iceberg. See the programming/scripting section of VersionTracker.com or Download.com for more.
For most home users, file backups are actually one-to-one copies of your hard disk or important files. As such, you can make a backup by just copying your files to another computer on the network. Such a backup is free and can be done at any time, but can't be scheduled for a time when you're not using the computer, as is possible with software or a script.
A by hand backup is just like that described in the scripting section, but without the scripting part of it. You need to set up File Sharing, mount another network computer, then drag the disk or folder you want to backup onto the network computer's icon. This will copy everything to the network computer (which may take a while, if you're backing up your whole hard disk).
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