What you should Backup

What you should Backup
Mac Tip#48/27-Mar-2002

Many clients ask me what they should back up. Do they need to back up AppleWorks for example?

The answer is that you already have backups of some things. When you bought your computer (if it was brand new, anyway) then it will have come with one or more CDs. Those CDs contain pretty well everything which was originally on your computer. That includes software such as AppleWorks and iTunes, as well as the whole Operating System and various other pieces of software such as a web browser and email program.

What you need to back up are those things which have value for you and which you have created or caused to be modified with information unique to you.

Things which might have value for you could be photos you’ve scanned or downloaded from a digital camera, letters you’ve written, email addresses, a collection of recipes, information you’ve gathered from web pages, a family tree. These are just a few examples.

Documents you’ve modified with unique information could include settings for your email software or settings for connecting to the Internet.

Obviously you don’t need to back up information which has no value to you — your third cousin’s holiday snaps, the cartoon a friend sent, the list of items to pack for your fishing trip last year.

Modern computers have very large hard drives. You can safely store a huge number of documents and files, but you might as well Trash anything you definitely don’t need any more.

Once you’re ready to back up your files you need to sort out how much information you’re backing up and then exactly how to go about backing it up. If you have a small amount of information then perhaps you could use Apple’s free iTools account. That can handle up to about 20Megabytes (Mb). For up to 95Mb or 245Mb a Zip disc might work (they come in two sizes). For more than 250Mb then a CD or perhaps even a DVD (if you have the right Mac) would be suitable.

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