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4 tips to manage and protect data on an Apple Mac

There is a wide spread understanding that Apple Macs do not get viruses and the operating system OSX tends to be much more stable than those on a Windows PCs (remember Windows Vista?). But, this is still not a good enough excuse to leave your data unprotected against unforeseen forces that may damage or cause you to lose your valuable data.  This is particularly relevant at the moment with the imminent release in October of a major operating system upgrade “OS X Mavericks”.

So if you are not already protecting and managing your data and letting it manage you here are four recommendations of how to take control:

1. Get organised and clear the junk

Where do you start?

the first problem is usually finding the junk that is creating the most clutter and which are the worst disk space hoggers.

The first useful tool to help find the junk is the “Smart Folders” tool in Finder, This allows you to group together files of a similar type, age or size and many more similarities.  For example you can create a smart folder for all the PDF files on your computer that have not been opened for over a year or movie files that are larger than 50 Mb.

Another useful tool for finding out where all you disk drive space has gone is a free download called Disk Inventory for Mac. This software creates a map of where data is stored.

For doing a bit of Spring cleaning by clearing out the caches and tmp files you can use another free download call Onyx.

Once the big clear out is complete try not to add new clutter, when you receive new files such as an email attachments or application downloads.  Save them to a separate folder from you other files.  If you then decide to keep them you move them to a permeant home.  When you have time to have a clear out it is easier as the files are not mixed up with all your other files you want to keep.

2. Monitoring the condition of the Hard Drive

If you want to be ultra cautious, use a hard drive monitoring programme, like Ontrack EasyRecovery 11, that can monitor the performance of the hard drive and issue a warning if they detect any deterioration. If this happens it means it is time to update the backups and replace the Hard Drive.

3. Syncing and backing up your data

Rule 1:  All hard disk drives fail, even SSDs, so a backup is essential.

Rule 2: Updating you backup does not have to be a chore.

Rule 3: Syncing to the cloud is not enough.

Rule 4: You are really only protected if you have at least 2 separate backups.

What are the options

  • Disk drive Cloning – Carbon Copy Cloner (free download) or Acronis True Image.  If you create a bootable clone and the internal HDD stops working you can boot from the external HDD.  You can also test the backup, which is very important, by changing the startup disk in System Preferences to see if the backup will boot.
  • Full cloud backup – both the Carbon Copy Cloner and Acronis True Image also offer a full backup to cloud. You pay for this service though and the amount your pay is based on the amount of data backed up.
  • Partial cloud based backup – keep your costs down and just backup your most important files to cloud.  Most providers such as Drop Box, Google Drive and Sky drive offer up to 5GB for free.
  • Drag and drop files to another destination – This is the simplest and cheapest way but is it is manual so prone to mistakes and there is no easy way to check the backup is complete.

4. When Backing up don’t forget about your iPad and iPhone

Have you upgraded to iOS 7 yet? It was released to UK users at on Wednesday 18 September 2013.  Did you backup first?  If you are not sure you have a backup or if it is up to date open iTunes and under devices it will tell you where you are backing up to and when was the last backup made.  It will be either to your Mac or to iCloud.  An import note about the backup, it does not include all your photos, music or documents.

Just remember

There was a Apple virus 28 years ago and a well publicised Java security vulnerability reported in 2012, which Apple jumped all over to eliminated it. But since then there has been no further incidents.

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