Beginner: Backing up?

in macOS edited January 2014
I've recently encountered several problems with my Powerbook and after speaking with Apple Care a number of times, I'm guessing sending it in will be the next step. I'd like to back up everything before sending, and having never done this, I'm in great need of help. I read a few other posts but many of them weren't very recent. I would like to back up all my settings, files, documents, programs, etc. I do not have an external hard drive or another computer, I've only got a DVD/CD-RW drive. I am not extremely familiar with vocabulary associated with backing up/making copies...

Suggestions? Comments? Help!


  • Reply 1 of 1
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Do you have any software to help out, e.g., Apple's "Backup" for .Mac members or "Toast"?

    If not, here's the easiest way to back up:

    1. insert a blank CD-R disc

    I recommend using CD-R discs and not CD-RW since you can use this as a milestone backup, that is, a long-term and permanent backup. You can't re-record or add more to a CD-R disc later but it records the data "permanently." You can erase and write over stuff on a CD-RW disc (RW stands for "read/write" and R stands for "read only"), which carries risks for this kind of thing.

    You'll see a CD icon show up on your desktop or in a Finder window sidebar.

    2. Drag and drop files and folders onto the CD-R

    Use the Finder to locate and drag items to the CD-R icon.

    The important thing to back up is your Home folder, and any third party applications you've installed. Unless you went out of your way, you shouldn't really need to back up the System folder nor the Library Folder. All the applications that came with your computer are on the Software Restore CDs that came with your computer, so don't waste your CD-R discs on them, unless you want to save versions of them that you updated and would have a hard time finding the updates again.

    A CD holds about 660 MB of data, so watch how you want to break up your files and folders. It won't let you add more anyway, it will tell you if it's full before you burn it. Try to fill each CD-R up as best as possible without breaking up your files and folders too much.

    I recommend giving the CD-R a meaningful name before you burn it (you can't rename it after you record to it) and include the date, the purpose of the backup and number each disc sequentially.

    3. Choose "Burn Disc?" from the Finder's File menu

    It's near the bottom of the menu. You can alternately either drag the CD-R icon to the Trash can (it will turn into the burn icon which looks like the symbol for radioactivity), or you can click on the little burn icon next to the CD-R icon in the Finder's sidebar.

    When a warning dialog pops up to check that this is what you want to do, click on the button that says, "Burn." If you click on the button that says "Eject", the CD-R will eject without burning the data on it, and "Cancel" will leave the CD in the computer but won't record it yet.

    Repeat these steps for all the data you want to back up, making a note of what has been backed up and what has not yet. This process can be time consuming and can use a LOT of CD-R discs, but it is the most straightforward.

    If you want to try to fit more things on your backup discs, try using the Finder's archive feature to create a compressed .zip file of the stuff you select. Again, the compressed archive can't be larger than what the CD-R can hold, but you can often squeeze more data on one CD that way and thus use fewer CD-R discs.
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