I have talked about the necessity of having a backup of the data (and maybe even the Applications) on your Mac. This is a good article on the backup issue, by all means give it a read. But, this is what I do to ensure some semblance of safety when it comes to my data.
Make no mistake, the hard drive (whether a spinner or SSD) is going to die on your Mac at some point in time. They just wear out. Sometimes they are damaged (dropped laptops, water spills, lightning strikes). So, having a backup of your “stuff” is absolutely imperative. I cannot tell you how many Mac people I have talked to over the years whose computer hard drive died and they did NOT have a backup! Just a darn shame really.
So, this is what I do for my backup. It may be a little overkill, but when it comes to preserving my photos and other important info you cannot be too careful. I start with Apple’s Time Machine.
Apple provides a pretty decent backup solution in Time Machine. For most people, it is sufficient as a general backup solution.
Time Machine is easy to setup. Just connect an external HD, set it and forget it. It backs up every hour and it is easy to restore a file or folder. It works fairly well and is a very good solution for the average Mac user that does not have a lot of stuff on their machine. However, Time Machine can have problems and occasionally it loses files. Not a common problem, but it can have issues. Enter my second form of backup called QRecall.
QRecall is a third party app that I use to backup my stuff. There are many other third party apps out there, but after doing a bunch of research I chose QRecall. It gets good reviews and uses less space on my external HD. Here is what a typical window looks like (click on the image for a larger, more readable version):
It looks a bit daunting, but once you get used to the interface it works pretty well. I do a backup twice a day to an external HD with this app. It is extremely reliable, does not lose files and puts the files into a Archive, thus saving HD space. So you could say that QRecall is a backup fail safe to Time Machine. I have restored files form it and it works great. But, I also have yet another form of backup (I know, I am obsessed right?).
I have used SuperDuper! to clone my Macs for many years. I consider a clone of my iMac to be a guard against catastrophic failure of my machine. So, every once in a while I clone my entire iMac to an external HD. Here is what the main window looks like:
The external clone is bootable so I can actually boot from it and continue working if I need to do so. I also make a clone of my machine before installing any major OS X updates. If there are problems with the update then I can restore the entire system using the clone.
There are other ways to backup of course. You can just drag files onto a DVD and burn it. Or drag files onto a thumb drive or other external media source. Many people are using offline, cloud style backups like CrashPlan or Apple’s iCloud. But, whatever you decide, you must have some type of backup plan for the stuff on your Mac. Not having one is just not a viable option. Yes, besides Time Machine, these apps cost money. But, in the long run, they are worth every penny.
Remember, your HD will die at some point or your computer will get damaged, lost or stolen. You do NOT want to lose your stuff!