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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

[Computer tech]

Yesterday, I upgraded from Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) to 10.5 (Leopard). 10.5 has a fabulous automated backup system called Time Machine, and I bought Apple's nifty Time Capsule. It's a combination wireless router and 500 GB hard drive. So any of the computers at home will now automatically back themselves up on an hourly basis over the wireless network.

I was spurred into action by Lisa's hard drive crashing irrecoverably. Lisa is not as good as I am about backing up. Fortunately Gmail never throws anything out, ever, and everything she writes, she emails to me sooner or later. And we had a backup from August. Me, I've been backing up to a flash drive at irregular intervals, and I'm always sending stuff out for notes. Still, the idea of never losing more than an hour's work was pretty attractive.

I forgot the cardinal rule of systems, though: never upgrade. Just buy a new computer with the new system installed. Lisa's MacBook came with 10.5. The first thing the 10.5 upgrade did was lose my home directory. That's right. Every single bit of personal information on my computer, everything except applications, gone.

Which sort of defeats the purpose of getting 10.5.

Well, the home directory wasn't erased, just misplaced, and with help from my brilliant researcher, Webs, I was able to put the home directory where it belonged, and the people at Final Draft made no fuss about giving me another activation. Still, I did spend a good 3 hours recovering.

Probably should not have installed anything until I turned in my final drafts of my pay cable series, eh?

Time Machine looks really cool, though. It saves your computer's entire state hourly for 24 hours, then daily for a week, then weekly until it runs out of space and has to start deleting old backups. I doubt I'll need all its functionality. I tend to make a new script file every day, so I have dozens of old drafts of scripts available in case I want to find out how I did it before. I'll be happy just knowing that I'm safe if my computer dies or runs off with another writer.



I've got both Leopard and TIme Capsule, as well. One of the things I like best (other than having 1 TB of extra memory), is the wireless printing. I don't need to hook up my laptop to the printer anymore to print something, which is so inconvenient, especially since the printer is located in the basement. I never had any problems when I upgraded, and I actually made full use of the backups when I couldn't turn my laptop on and had to do a full OS reboot. Mac made it very simple to reinstall my files and in a couple of hours, I was up and running again. Because I knew everything was backed up, it saved me A LOT of worry, and because I didn't have to take the laptop in, it saved me money, too.

By Blogger Tim W., at 11:04 AM  

Tim, how do you set up printing over the network with Time Capsule?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 11:58 AM  

Hi Alex,

You might also consider getting a Dropbox account. It creates a folder on your computer that automatically syncs online and you can have the same [writing] folder synced across multiple computers with it. Helps when I'm writing on my work computer and then switch to the laptop.

By Blogger spiffy, at 2:47 PM  

You should also consider an off-site backup in case anything happens to your house. Staniel mentioned Dropbox. I use it and it's really easy and unobtrusive. It's more for syncing files across multiple computers like your desktop and laptop. You can also try Mozy. With that, you just set up what folders you want backed up after you install it and it automatically backs up changes daily only when the computer is idle.

By Blogger Red Baron, at 3:10 PM  

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