Take Control of Mac OS X Backups 2.0
Author: Joe Kissell
Publisher: Take Control Books
Price: $10 (eBook); $23 (printed book)
Requirements: Any PDF reader (eBook)
Trial: 33-page sample
Ever since my days using Windows 95 and 98, when I learned that I should expect to re-format my hard drive and re-install Windows (and everything else) once or twice a year, I have understood the value of backing up crucial documents. Yet, as Steve Jobs reminded the world when he introduced Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard’s” Time Machine backup application, very few people regularly back up their data (4% was the figure Jobs quoted).
A book like Joe Kissell’s Take Control of Mac OS X Backups is therefore a much-needed guide. Kissell capitalizes on Jobs’s statistic and the need for great improvement in backup plans everywhere to produce a helpful and comprehensive manual that offers help and insight for beginners and experts alike.
Kissell walks the reader through all they need to know about backing up: choosing a backup strategy, considering the particular needs of each system, selecting hardware and software, and setting everything up. You will find detailed guides to software and hardware, evaluated from every perspective: features, costs, ease of use, reputation, and reliability—and good recommendations about each part of a complete backup system.
He also includes some helpful appendices, including a quick and simple guide to setting up a backup system on “your uncle’s Mac”—a great idea, as most experienced users end up offering some technical advice and support to a family member here and there. I was impressed that, throughout the book, questions of security and encryption were discussed thoroughly yet concisely, as were questions about specialized backup circumstances, such as photos and video. There are even coupons in the back of the book/eBook representing $60 of savings (if you buy all three products offered).
There is a lot to commend this book/eBook. Some of the more significant credits include:
- The book is incredibly thorough—I don’t think there is any scenario or circumstance, short of large corporate or industrial networks, that isn’t covered in the book. Everyone should be able to find their setup and help for how to back it up.
- The information provided regarding available options is helpful and comprehensive. All options for both hardware and software are examined, with the pros and cons of each explained and specific recommendations made for different circumstances. There is no “one size fits all” setup, and Kissell has done a great job of providing a lot of options based on cost, need, and preference.
- It is also surprisingly up-to-date; one of the advantages of the eBook format is that updates and new information can be included easily, and the version 2.0 deliniation obviously indicates that this advantage has been pressed into use. The latest options across the board, including Leopard’s Time Machine, the new AirPort Extreme Base Station, and Amazon’s recent S3 offering are all discussed intelligently.
- Finally, both theory and practice are discussed. Kissell rightly acknowledges that many people are not only failing to back up but actually know little or nothing about how to do it. He accommodates this well, giving clear and straightforward explanations about different philosophies and approaches to backing up. He also gives specific instructions for setting up different sorts of backup systems, thereby moving beyond mere theory and philosophy.
(Sort of) Cons
These critiques are not really “cons” but simply aspects that, while perhaps unavoidable, kept me from giving the book an “Excellent” rating:
- The book is very technical. Even though Kissell is clearly aiming for a broad and inclusive audience, there are many parts that were tediously detailed and probably more information than most will ever need. For those who want or need this, it is very helpful—for the rest, it could go.
- The very current and comprehensive quality of the content may work against it. Because Kissell mentions so many products by name and version, it will surely go out of date very soon. Fortunately, Take Control Books offers updates to their eBooks, so this solves the problem somewhat—but how often updates will be available is an important question.
- Kissell clearly favors Retrospect Desktop as his preferred backup software solution, and this is evident throughout the book. While this is understandable—Retrospect Desktop is a fine product—it is so dominant as to make me feel as though any other choice is insufficient.
All minor complaints and critique aside, I recommend Take Control of Mac OS X Backups 2.0 to anyone who has questions about how to safely, securely, and fully set up a backup system for their computer and/or network.