What to Back Up With
Do you need specialized backup software to back up your movies or iDVD projects? Absolutely not. All you need to do is keep all the files associated with the project in a single folder, then burn that folder onto a CD-R/RW or DVD-R as often as you want.
Or a DVD-RW, with the aforementioned proviso.
I would like to add, though, that while you don't need any software whatsoever to back up a few movies or an iDVD project, you might want a backup or synchronization program anyway.
Just because you don't really need it for video/DVD backups, that doesn't mean you don't really need it. Not only will this software allow you to automate and simplify your video and DVD backups, you can use it for all your important documents (or anything else you choose to back up), and just include the video and DVD folders you want to back up as part of your everyday backup routine.
There are dozens of Mac OS X savvy programs to choose from. One inexpensive shareware program is the elegant $20 ChronoSync from Econ Technologies (www.econtechnologies.com).
I like this little company. Its motto is "The customer is our consultant" and it stands by that. ChronoSync has been updated with bug fixes and feature improvements three times in as many months.
There's also the inexpensive ($49) non-shareware program Retrospect Express, from Dantz Development:
A Word About Backing Up in General
You are backing up your important files every day, aren't you? If you aren't, read this sidebar carefully it could save your bacon.
If your computer and all the files on it were to vaporize tomorrow, how badly would you be hurt? If your answer is anything but "not a bit," you should have a backup plan in place and adhere to it religiously.
Speaking of which, any file important enough to back up is important enough to back up three times, with one backup always stored in another location. That way, even if your Mac and everything in the same room were destroyed or stolen, you'd be able to restore all but your most recent work from the off-site backup. If that's overkill, even two sets, with one stored off-site, is better than having your only backup go up in flames along with your Mac.
One last thing: Doing it right might not be cheap. You need blank media (discs, disks, tapes, or whatever), and you might need additional hardware and software, not to mention time spent on setup and execution.
Before you have a cow, consider the alternative. DriveSavers is a professional data recovery firm, complete with clean room and bunny suits. Though their clients (including Sting, Clarence Clemmons, Sean Connery, Keith Richards, and Industrial Light and Magic) sing their praises, they charge accordingly founder Scott Gaidano has a gorgeous Ferarri. And even DriveSavers can't recover every file from every drive or disc every time. Sometimes even they strike out (but you still pay).
There are only two kinds of Mac users: Those who have lost data and those who will. Don't wait until you're a loser to get with the program The only real protection for your files is multiple backups just do it.
Zulch, the God of Data Security
I recommend Retrospect backup software from Dantz Development (www.dantz.com). Period. There are several versions available, from Express ($49) for personal backups to Server ($799) for multiple mixed network backups.
I've used Retrospect backup products for at least 10 years and have never lost a bit (or a byte, for that matter) of data. I've tried many other backup and synchronization programs, and most of them don't stink. But when it comes to my data, I'm more comfortable entrusting it to the experienced engineers at Dantz. I use the Retrospect Desktop product ($150), but the less-expensive Retrospect Express lacks only one or two features (such as extensive file-level filtering and tape drive support). By the way, all of the different versions of Retrospect look exactly like the picture to the previous page.
Founded by brothers Larry and Richard Zulch, Dantz Development has been making Mac backup solutions since the Mac debuted, way back in 1984. I suppose another reason I trust Retrospect so much is that I know where to find the Zulch brothers if need be. Fortunately, in all these years I've never had to.
I tend to be quite paranoid about losing files, so my backup plan is designed to allow me to get back to "the way things were" as quickly as possible after a crash or other unnatural disaster. Since I hate the thought of re-creating even a single file, I have three complete backups of my entire Work folder burned onto DVD-R discs one set is in my safe deposit box, one set is in the trunk of my car, and the third set is here in my office. At the end of each week I swap the office set for one of the off-site sets so I'll never lose more than a few days of work in the very worst case.
And it would have to be a pretty bad case, indeed, because in addition to my three DVD backup sets, I also back up my Work folder to several external FireWire hard disks every day. Finally, I back up my Home folder, iDVD (or iMovie) project folders, and other vital folders three times a day on top of my daily regimen.
Better still, all of my backups to hard drives occur automatically and in the background, whether I'm at the keyboard or not, and without a bit of human intervention. If that appeals to you, reread the section earlier in this chapter about Retrospect, which is what I depend on to accomplish this feat.
My method may be overkill, but I sleep well at night knowing that no matter what happens, I can be back in business within a few hours.
One last thing: Be sure you test your backup solution before a problem occurs. Make sure your backup does just what you expect when you restore from it.