Friday, June 16, 2006


No, I haven't broken my own rules about avoiding exclamation points in blog headlines. "SuperDuper!" is the name of a software product — probably the most valuable software product any Mac owner can buy.

Imagine you came home one day and discovered your house had been broken into and your computer was...gone. It might have been your nephew with drug problems, or someone who worked for that shady contract who put on the roof next door.

Gone are all your digital photos, your entire digital music collection, five years worth of email, and your financial records. If you run a small business, chances are you've lost the electronic originals of all your bidding documents and estimates and most of your mailing list and contact files. Writing a novel or a thesis? Oops. You've lost several months of work. much would you pay to be able to have the entire contents of your computer restored (except for perhaps the past week of new files) and immediately usable? Does $200 seem too steep?

I urge you to invest that $200 up front, buying an external hard drive with a slightly greater capacity than your computer's drive, and spending $27.95 on SuperDuper! backup software.

SuperDuper! is a free download for the basic version, so you can try it out and make bootable backups whenever you want. However, the $27.95 payment unlocks access to two features of the software that I'd argue are essential to hassle-free data backup: Smart Update (for faster, incremental updates rather than copying the entire hard drive each time you back up) and Scheduling.

Making a bootable backup copy of your computer's hard drive using SuperDuper! is easier than making Minute Rice. SuperDuper! keeps the directions short, sweet, and at the beginner level. (There's advanced stuff, but you'd have to dig around to find it and make a mess of things.)

Once you've backed up your hard drive to the external hard drive, you can ask SuperDuper! to schedule regular incremental backups -- say, once a week.

If you don't keep your external drive on (and I don't) you can set a reminder in your calendar software to turn the external drive on in time for the backup. SuperDuper! will then open at its appointed time, look for the external drive, and once it finds it, back up any new files.

One of the reasons I don't keep the external drive turned on is that I usually disconnect it and store it in a small cabinet in my office, particularly if I'm going to be out of town for a few days. Most burglars just grab the big, easy-to-sell stuff (like the computer) and leave peripherals alone. But just in case, it's nice to have the bootable backup tucked out of sight.

I sat down to write this blog entry on my 12" PowerBook about 30 minutes ago, when SuperDuper! came on to do the weekly backup of the 100 GB of data on the 250 GB hard drive of my Intel iMac. SuperDuper! completed the weekly backup while I wrote this entry -- in less than the amount of time most of us take for a lunch break.

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