No amount of maintenance can guarantee that your hard drive will never crash, that your Mac will never be stolen, or that lightning will never hit your house. Any number of catastrophes could potentially imperil your computerand its data. Of course, you can replace a computer, but what about your email, photographs, music collection, tax records, and all the other important information on your hard disk? To keep your data safe, you need good backups. If you've never taken the time to set up a proper backup system, the time is now!
I wish I could tell you that backing up your computer is a simple matter of clicking a few buttons. But there's more to it than that: understanding the various types of backup, choosing backup hardware and software that has all the features you need, configuring your system, storing backup media safely, and many other details. The good news, though, is that once you've set up a backup system, it should run happily with little intervention for months or years.
Because so much can be said about backups, I've devoted several later chapters of this book to providing you with complete instructions. Feel free to work your way through the tasks in the rest of this book first. When you're ready to set up your backup system, flip ahead to Chapter 9, where you'll begin to learn how to choose backup hardware and software, schedule daily archives and weekly duplicates, manage your media, and more. If you set everything up now, you'll breeze through those periodic tasks, almost without noticing them.