Backing Up Your MacA Joe On Tech Guide

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Backing Up Your Mac cover

Second Edition
210 pages • Version 2.2 • December 11, 2016
Updated for macOS 10.12 Sierra!

Protect Yourself from Data Loss!

Your Mac contains valuable and sometimes irreplaceable files—family photos and videos, business documents, your unfinished novel… not to mention personal data such as email, contacts, and calendars. Without great backups, all of that data could disappear in an instant. We don’t like to think about theft, fire, and natural disasters, but these things happen. So do hard drive crashes and other malfunctions (not to mention user error).

Your best insurance against losing data forever is a thorough, carefully designed backup plan. You don’t have to spend a ton of money or be a technical whiz to back up your Mac. This book helps you design a sensible backup strategy, choose and configure the ideal backup hardware and software for your situation, and understand how to make your backups simple and convenient.

In this heavily revised second edition (based on his best-selling title Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac), Joe Kissell explains the three components of a solid backup strategy and helps you tailor that strategy to your needs. You’ll learn the hows and whys of backing up your Mac, understand the benefits and limitations of Time Machine (as well as alternatives to it), and see how bootable clones and cloud storage may factor into your plan. You’ll also discover how to deal with unusual backup needs and restore your data in an emergency. This book covers 10.9 Mavericks, 10.10 Yosemite, 10.11 El Capitan, and 10.12 Sierra.

Ebook includes PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions.
Ebook orders fulfilled by FastSpring.

Paperback orders fulfilled by CreateSpace.

Save 33% when you buy the four-book Mac Fitness Bundle, which also includes:
Maintaining Your MacTroubleshooting Your MacSpeeding Up Your Mac

What You’ll Learn

Joe’s Three-Part System

A good backup plan includes versioned backups, bootable duplicates, and offsite storage. Learn what these things mean, why you need them, and how to get all three with minimum effort.

Choosing Backup Software

Apple’s Time Machine is both free and easy to use. But it’s not the best choice for everyone, and even if you do use Time Machine, you’ll certainly want to supplement it with other tools too.

Backup Hardware

For most users, hard drives make an excellent backup destination, but the range of options can be daunting. Joe helps you find the best backup hardware, whether it’s hard drives or other devices.

Configuring and Using Backup Apps

Once you’ve chosen backup hardware and software, you’ll learn how to make your first backup, configure key options, and set up your backups to run unattended.

Offsite Storage

For extra safety, you may want to keep a copy of your backups offsite. Discover various ways of accomplishing this, including cloud backup services.

Keeping Backups Secure

A damaged or incomplete backup won’t help you, while a backup that falls into the wrong hands can jeopardize your privacy. How can you test, maintain, and encrypt your backups for maximum security?

Disaster Recovery

Backups are useless unless you know how to get your data back when it goes missing. What steps can you follow in an emergency to get back up and running as quickly and painlessly as possible?

Photos and Videos

Certain types of data, such as large photo and video libraries, present special backup challenges. Find out the best ways to protect data and restore these files.

Other Special Needs

Do you need to back up a small network, back up your laptop while you’re on the road, or back up a Windows installation on your Mac? This book has you covered.

Free Bonus Materials!

  • Online Appendixes: In addition to the book itself, all readers get free access to online appendixes that contain detailed, up-to-date feature comparisons of nearly 100 apps and cloud services for backing up and syncing your data, plus information on Mac backup hardware such as NAS devices and alternative hard drive options. These appendixes are updated regularly to give you the very latest information on the best tools for backing up your Mac.
  • Training Aids: If you want to teach Mac backups to someone else—say, a friend, your company, or a user group—you’ll benefit from free downloadable training materials based on the book, including a PDF “cheat sheet” with the essential points from the book, plus a simplified PDF-based presentation. (Editable, brandable Keynote slides can be licensed for an additional fee.)

Reader Reviews

Backing Up Your Mac has received rave reviews from readers! A few examples…

One theme that’s consistent in Kissell’s books: he never tells you what you should do (other than making sure you back up!); rather he offers suggestions, options, and choices. He uses his years of experience to explain why one method may work better than another, but leaves the ultimate choice up to the individual. Readers can feel confident after finishing Backing Up Your Mac that they’ll have all the facts they need to make an informed decision on backup strategy.

An excellent, smart and comprehensive review of all the backup options for Macs—and why they are necessary. Beyond covering the basics, his advice is spot-on! … The other thing to mention is that Joe is very responsive to inquiries and questions—he is not a technical support department but he has been very helpful to me (for this and other topics) when I had questions.

There’s a lot of information here, clearly laid out, covering all the options someone like me could need—in a small business and relying on my Mac…This is another clear, usable book by one of my favourite tech authors. If you treasure the stuff on your Mac you’d do well to work though this book and get yourself well set up before the worst happens.

I think this is a really great book. You are really expert in these matters, the book is very well structured and very well and written and very pleasant to read. Your guidance in this ‘mine field’ was very informative and well argued and has helped me tremendously to set up a good backup plan. Worth every penny.


This is a serious book, and every single person who uses a Mac should be aware of it…if you want to get way, way more than $10–15 worth of advice and information from the super guru about backing up your Mac, read every single word that Joe Kissell says about backing up your Mac.

This is the best, most accessible book on backups I’ve seen. (Having worked in the data storage industry most of my career, I’ve seen a lot.) This is also the best data protection insurance you’ll ever buy.

Ebook includes PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions.
Ebook orders fulfilled by FastSpring.

Paperback orders fulfilled by CreateSpace.

Save 33% when you buy the four-book Mac Fitness Bundle, which also includes:
Maintaining Your MacTroubleshooting Your MacSpeeding Up Your Mac

About the Author

Joe Kissell has been using Macs since 1991, and writing about them since 1995. He is the author of more than 50 books on technology, including The Nisus Way, Take Control of iCloud, Take Control of Your Online Privacy, and Mac Security Bible. He is also a contributing editor to TidBITS and a senior contributor to Macworld. Before he began writing full-time in 2003, Joe spent nearly eight years managing software development. Joe is the eponym and instigator of Joe On Tech, a website and ebook series that helps people improve their relationship with technology. He can neither confirm nor deny that he wears a cape and fights crime in his spare time. Joe lives in San Diego with his wife, their two sons, and their cat.

About Joe On Tech Guides

Joe On Tech guides provide practical advice on tech topics. Suitable for beginners and experienced users alike, they explain technology in a straightforward and friendly way. Joe On Tech guides offer:

  • Expert advice from an author with 20+ years of experience
  • Professional editing and technical review
  • PDF, EPUB, and Kindle ebook formats, plus paperback
  • Bookmarks and cross-references for easy navigation
  • Free minor updates
  • 100% Money-Back Guarantee


Sure thing. Here you go:

Read Me First   6
  Updates   6 Basics   6
  What’s New in Version 2.1   8
  What Was New in Version 2.0   9
A Note to Readers   11
Introduction   13
Quick Start   15
Chapter 1 Plan a Backup Strategy   17
  Understand Joe’s Basic Backup Strategy   17
  Why Create Versioned Backups?   19
  Why Create Bootable Duplicates?   22
  Why Use an External Hard Drive?   24
  Why Use Multiple Partitions?   26
  Why Automate Backups?   26
  Why Keep Multiple Backups?   28
  Why Store Backups Offsite?   29
  Can Cloud Sync Simplify Backups?   30
  Can You Reduce Your Backup Footprint?   32
Chapter 2 Reassess Your Backup Strategy   34
  What’s New in the World of Mac Backups   34
  Factors to Reevaluate   37
Chapter 3 Choose Backup Software   41
  Decide If Time Machine Is Right for You   41
  Explore Versioned Backup Software Features   45
  Choose Another Versioned Backup App   57
  Choose a Bootable Duplicate App   61
Chapter 4 Choose Backup Hardware   62
  Decide on Capacity   62
  Choose an Interface (or Several)   66
  Consider Other Factors   70
  Decide Whether to Buy a Time Capsule   71
  Decide How Many Drives to Buy   72
  Consider Other Hardware Options   73
Chapter 5 Prepare Your Hard Drive   85
  Choose a Partition Map Scheme   85
  Decide How Many Partitions to Make   88
  Configure Your Drive   89
  Choose Local or Network Backups   93
Chapter 6 Configure and Use Time Machine   96
  Time Machine Basics   97
  Choose a Destination (or More Than   One)   98
  Exclude Files from Time Machine   100
  Restore Data with Time Machine   107
  Delete Files from a Time Machine Backup   117
  Encrypt Your Time Machine Backup   119
  Use a Single Backup Disk with Multiple Macs   121
  Use Power Nap   123
  Manage Your Time Machine Schedule   124
  Migrate to a Larger Time Machine Disk   127
  Avoid (or Solve) Time Machine Problems   131
Chapter 7 Use Other Versioned Backup Software   135
  Arq Tips   135 ChronoSync Tips   137
  CrashPlan Tips   138
  Data Backup Tips   139
  DollyDrive Tips   140
  QRecall Tips   140
  Retrospect Tips   141
  Test Your Versioned Backup   143
Chapter 8 Create and Use a Bootable Duplicate   145
  Give the Destination Volume a Unique Name   147
  Set Ownership on the Destination Volume   147
  Create a Duplicate with SuperDuper!   147
  Create a Duplicate with Carbon Copy Cloner   149
  Test Your Duplicate   151
Chapter 9 Store an Extra Backup Offsite   155
  Use an Extra Hard Drive   155
  Use a Cloud Backup Service   157
Chapter 10 What to Do When Disaster Strikes   165
  Restore Individual Files   165
  Use Your Bootable Duplicate   166
  Restore a Disk from a Bootable Duplicate   167
Chapter 11 Manage Your Media   171
  What to Do When Your Disks Fill Up   171
  Think About Long-Term Archive Storage   173
Chapter 12 Consider Special Backup Needs   176
  Back Up Digital Photos   176
  Deal with Huge Volumes of Data   179
  Back Up a NAS   186
  Back Up Data from the Cloud   187
  Back Up a Small Network   190
  Back Up While on the Road   193
  Back Up an iOS Device   197
  Back Up Windows Files and Volumes   199
Teach This Book   207
About This Book   208
  About the Author   208
  About Joe On Tech   209
  Acknowledgments   209
  Credits   209
This book is the successor to Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac, Second Edition, which was last updated in 2013 and has now been retired. Backing Up Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide has the same overall structure and much of the same text as the earlier book, but it has been thoroughly updated and enhanced. The changes are at least equivalent to what a new edition would contain—and I plan to keep it updated for the foreseeable future, too!
Take Control Books has been publishing books on technical topics (with an emphasis on Apple products) since 2003. I (Joe Kissell) have written over 50 of those books, and I plan to continue writing books for Take Control. (See Joe Kissell’s Reflections on His First 50 Take Control Books.) When it became infeasible for Take Control to keep some of my older (but much-loved) books up to date, I offered to “adopt” them, update them myself, and release them here with new titles and layouts. Take Control then functions as a reseller for Joe On Tech books (of which there will be more as time goes on).
They’re similar in both content and quality. For this book, I hired an editor (Caroline Rose) and a technical reviewer (Dan Frakes) who have also worked for Take Control, and I followed the same overall process. Although the Joe On Tech style guide and behind-the-scenes technical processes are a bit different, I hold these books to the high standards readers have come to expect from Take Control. (And, because I get more control over the details, I’m able to do extra things like offering paperback versions of the books.)
Absolutely. The ebook includes PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions, so you can read it on virtually any electronic device. The PDF version is best for reading on a computer screen (using Preview, Acrobat Reader, PDFpen, or similar apps). The EPUB version is perfect for iBooks. And the Kindle (Mobipocket) version works on all your Kindle devices, as well as in the Kindle app for Mac.
The book is for sale in several online stores, including Amazon, Apple’s iBooks Store, Leanpub, and Take Control. Although you’re welcome to purchase it from any of those places, please consider buying it directly from this site instead, because:
  • When you buy it from Joe On Tech, all the proceeds (after transaction fees) go to me; when you buy it elsewhere, the distributor takes a hefty cut first.
  • I supply PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions of the ebook, but Amazon provides only the Kindle version, while the iBooks Store provides only the EPUB version.
  • I offer a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee, if you buy the book from the Joe On Tech site.
  • When you purchase a book directly from me, I’m able to contact you about free updates, corrections, and new editions, but when you buy from another distributor, you become their customer, not mine, and I can’t reach you.
Yes! The paperback version contains instructions for downloading the ebook version at no additional cost.
You betcha. If you’re interested in reviewing the book, drop me a note using my contact form and I’ll hook you up.

Ebook includes PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions.
Ebook orders fulfilled by FastSpring.

Paperback orders fulfilled by CreateSpace.

Save 33% when you buy the four-book Mac Fitness Bundle, which also includes:
Maintaining Your MacTroubleshooting Your MacSpeeding Up Your Mac

Free Sample Chapter

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