The outstanding Hawk Wings blog on all things Apple Mail has a story about a sobering experience with Apple’s .Mac support. In a nutshell, a lawyer lost all of his Address Book entries after syncing with his .Mac account. He turned to .Mac support for help with restoring his data as, in his own words, “this is a very, very serious problem, with heavy consequences for me.” When the reply email from Apple pointed out that the data cannot be restored on the .Mac servers and that, generally, he should make back ups of his data, he threatened to sue Apple: “Should this happen again, not only would I lose any confidence in Apple’s .Mac service — I would also probably consider seeking reparation.”
Yes, dear computer-savvy reader who knows about the meaning of the two simple words “back up,” here’s yet another instance of that all-too-familiar story: “I never cared about backing up my business-critical data. And now that your product has caused the loss of that data, I’ll blame it all on you”.
Of course, the Address Book data shouldn’t have been lost during the synchronization process. Of course, those support emails should have sounded a bit more “human.” With a back up in place, however, there wouldn’t have been any need to ask for support in the first place. (Except, that is, for sending Apple a bug report to make them aware of the problem, which report is always a Good Thing™.)
Basically, all computer-related media — every website, every support forum, every podcast, every book, etc., etc., — restate over and over and over again that you must make backups of your data, because it’s a question of “when you will lose data,” not “if.” If there are still people out there who think they can get away without backing up, they must either be highly ignorant or highly irresponsible.
Then again, I recently heard from a developer — their product is a software solution for health care providers — that a survey had shown that a mere 4, yes four, percent of their users regularly back up their data. Important data. Sensitive data. In health care. Oh. My. Goodness.
It’s very difficult to think of the right words to state just how ridiculously obvious it is that losing important data is a disaster, and I am sure that there isn’t a single person among our knowledgeable readers here at Mac DevCenter who does not back up their machines. *hohum* Then again, if there is: shhhhhh, don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone. But, please, do learn about backing up your data, and then do make back ups. And regularly, too!
Dedicated back up software solutions like Retrospect or more affordable tools like SuperDuper offer automated, hassle-free, and reliable back ups, but even manually copying your personal user folder over to an external hard drive via the Finder is a major improvement over not backing up at all. All it takes is an external hard drive that currently should cost less than a Dollar per Gigabyte. That’s peanuts for the peace of mind that the photos of your kids, your vacation movies, your customers’ address information, the book that you’re writing, and all the other irreplaceably data on your Mac are safe.
Whatever approach you choose, back ups can — and will! — make all the difference between a major personal catastrophe and a fifteen-minute inconvenience.
If you have any tips to share about your own “best practices” for backing up your Mac, please share them in the comments. Thanks!