Backup to a CD


Backup to a CD
Mac Tip#50/10-Apr-2002

Tip 49 was about backing up to a free Apple iDisk. That’s good for smaller amounts of information but a CD can handle up to about 650 Megabytes.

Update 2009: DVDs, of course, hold a whole lot more. The following pretty much applies to DVDs too.

First you need the right equipment. If you’ve bought a recent Mac it might have a CD-RW drive which is capable of “writing” or making CDs. RW stands for “read / write”. When your computer “reads” a CD it looks at the information is contains. When it “writes” a CD it puts information onto the CD. Only certain CDs and certain CD drives allow “writing”. Older Macs which have CD drives will almost certainly not be able to write CDs, but only read them.

The only ways you can really know if your Mac has a CD or a CD-RW drive are to check with the vendor (or the packaging) or to look in the Apple System Profiler. The Apple System Profiler is the topic for next week’s Tip.

If your Mac doesn’t have the right kind of CD drive built-in then you can buy an external CD Writer which you can plug in. Older Macs can use a SCSI drive while newer Macs can use a USB drive or a Firewire drive.

Once you have the right hardware you need the right software to create, or “burn” CDs. Older Macs and users needing more control can use software such as Roxio’s Toast.

Newer Macs can use Apple’s Disc Burner software which comes already installed on newer machines.

If you’re using Disc Burner then each session will use up the entire CD, while other software can allow you to use a CD more than once.

To use Disc Burner just correctly insert a blank CD into the CD drive. Your Mac will bring up a message about preparing the disc. You should also have the opportunity to name the disc. After clicking OK an icon for the CD will appear on the desktop.

Once the icon appears just drag folders and documents onto the CD icon. Once you’ve dragged across everything you want to back up simply Eject the disc. To do that click once on the icon to select it and then choose Eject from the File Menu (OS X) or Special Menu (OS 9).

A dialog box now appears warning you about needing to burn the CD. Click OK and then go away and have a bath, take a walk or make dinner. If you have a lot of information to back up it can take a long time (maybe an hour or more) to create the CD.

Once it’s all done your CD drive should eject the CD. Now you just need to label it carefully and store it securely.

SPECIAL NOTE: This is the 50th issue of Mac Tips, which began almost one year ago, so it’s time to celebrate. Mac Tips is totally free of charge, but if you’ve found the tips useful perhaps you’d consider making a small donation to Heifer.org. Heifer.org animals (and training in their care) offer hungry families around the world a way to feed themselves and become self-reliant. Children receive nutritious milk or eggs; families earn income for school, health care and better housing; communities go beyond meeting immediate needs to fulfilling dreams. Farmers learn sustainable, environmentally sound agricultural techniques. <http://www.heifer.org/>

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