TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Book Review: "Take Control of Mac OS X Backups," "Take Control of Easy Backup in Leopard"

Volume Number: 24 (2008)
Issue Number: 08
Column Tag: Book Review

Book Review: "Take Control of Mac OS X Backups," "Take Control of Easy Backup in Leopard"

Two backup titles in the "Take Control of" series

by Edward Marczak


The Take Control of series of electronic books has become a staple for many computer users-typically those just beginning a particular topic. Two titles from Joe Kissell, Take Control of Mac OS X Backups and Take Control of Easy Backups in Leopard also fall into the beginner to mid-level category. That's not a slight at the subject matter: Joe knows his audience and leads them through the topics at hand skillfully.

Take Control of Mac OS X Backups is the heftier, deeper work, suitable for single users with a fair amount of data to back up through people running a home or small-office LAN needing to backup multiple data sources. Take Control of Easy Backups in Leopard, as the title implies, is aimed more at the home user with one or two machines to independently back up and primarily focuses on deciding if Time Machine is the right tool for the job.

Both titles are released in print and as e-books, delivered as a PDF that you download. The e-books have the advantage of being Able to be updated as the author updates the material. It also makes it easy to search and carry with you.

Take Control of Mac OS X Backups

The first book in this review is the 178-page Take Control of Mac OS X Backups, version 2.1 (yes, as an e-book, it gets a version, and you're entitled to updates). It's the older and denser of the two titles, and consists of 7 core chapters with 5 appendices and a glossary. To quote the author in the early Readme chapter, "I've written this book primarily for people who need to back up either a single computer or a small network—not for system administrators who need to back up dozens or hundreds of machines." That said, the first core chapter, "Decide on a Basic Backup Strategy" gives excellent advice to anyone getting into the details of backup. This chapter immediately dispels the myth that there's any silver bullet for backup that takes planning and vigilance away from the administrator.

The first core chapter also quickly makes the reader aware of the various processes-and the differences between them-that are referred to as "back up:" duplicating, archiving and synchronizing. From there, readers are put through the paces of identifying special situations: the photographer, the video or audio artist, etc. Each has special and different backup needs compared to someone that performs research and creates documents using a Word processor. Overall, readers are asked to think about their backup scenario and understand that it is unique. This chapter also contains sections on backing up while traveling and handling Windows files and partitions (for those of you Boot Camp users).

The next chapter, "Choose Your Hardware," leads you through deciding on which medium-or mediums-you will use as your backup targets. As this version of the book was produced in mid-to-late 2007, I was surprised to see any mention of Iomega in the text at all (do our younger readers even know who Iomega is?). The remainder of the chapter is perfectly reasonable, helping users through the myriad of choices in this arena. These choices include flash drives, through hard drives up to remote storage options.

Hardware is useless without the software that will copy the data to those targets. The "Choose Your Software" chapter is another 'thinking' chapter in that it really makes you think about what's important in a backup application for your situation. There are specific programs mentioned, but the emphasis is really on features to look for in backup software. The options listed range from do-it-yourself UNIX command line options, to old-guard standards like Retrospect up to newcomers like Crashplan. Software choices are paired with specific hardware options as described.

The final chapter before the appendices helps the reader put it all together. Configuring parts of the OS, configuring the backup targets and readying the software. One point I disagree with in this chapter is the advice to avoid File Vault. I've personally been using File Vault to protect my home directory for a long time and have never had an issue. Not to say that Mr. Kissell's note that corruption can rend a File Vault archive unusable; that is true. More to the point, this is the perfect combination: when using File Vault, you need to have a backup plan! Perfect combination. Full disk encryption products hadn't been announced at all at the time of version 2.1's writing, however, there are now three products (one shipping and two on the way) that will fully encrypt a boot drive on an Intel Mac, obviating the need for File Vault altogether. This will ultimately be the best bet, but for now, File Vault is a good option, but one should absolutely have a backup plan when using it. On a high point, the chapter does talk about media management and restoring just as much as backing up in the first place.

There's even more to the book, but I'll leave that for you to find. The books is well worth the $15 purchase price, and Joe Kissell himself tells me that he's hard at work on updates that include up to date status on backing up in Leopard. Purchasing the e-book now allows you to update to new versions as they're released. Also, currently, purchasing this title also gives you Take Control of Easy Backups in Leopard. Find out more at the web site for the book:

Take Control of Easy Backups in Leopard

In appropriate contrast to Take Control of Mac OS X Backups, which addresses multiple machines and small network backups, Take Control of Easy Backups in Leopard is as simple the title would lead you to believe. This is the book you give to a switcher or someone entirely new to computers. It's intended for a home user who deals primarily with one machine and wants or needs a backup in place quickly and easily. Its roughly 78 pages are direct and useful. This review covers version 1.0 of the e-book title and I'm told Joe is hard at work on updates to this title, which owners will be entitled to download when available.

While similar in structure to Take Control of Backups in OS X, all of the options presented are simplified. For example, the book only deals with external hard disks as targets for backups. No tape, no LAN-based backup, and so on. This is entirely appropriate, of course.

Most importantly, like the other title in this group, Take Control of Easy Backups in Leopard makes the reader think about their set up. The "easy" tag in the title is not a substitute for 'sloppy' or 'corner-cutting.' Concepts like off-site backups and the importance of rotating backup media are discussed here, too.

From this point, the reader is guided through preparation of backup targets and a backup scheme. The bulk of the book then focuses on Time Machine as a backup program. Again, this is completely appropriate given the audience the title is targeted at ("easy," remember?). Other utilities are lightly touched on, followed by a chapter on restoring your backups for "When Disaster Strikes" (the title of the chapter on restoring).

This book alone comes in at $10—just right for the audience it serves. Find out more at the page for the e-book at


Both titles are a good value: the information is always practical, and the e-books are updated as new information comes to light (read: as Apple fixes bugs and updates their software and functionality changes). After having read either of these titles, a trepidatious new user will feel more comfortable, in control and knowledgeable. Although intended for beginners in the respective 'small' categories - small business network or home user with a single computer - I've met IT staff in larger organizations that could learn a thing or two about backup from Take Control of Backups in OS X. Most importantly, these titles make you think about backup in your specific situation. The Take Control web site offers sample chapters, so, if you're still not convinced, go download a sample and check it out for yourself.

Ed Marczak is the Executive Editor for MacTech Magazine, and has been lucky enough to have ridden the computing and technology wave from early on. From teletype computing to MVS to Netware to modern OS X, his interest was piqued. He has also been fortunate enough to come into contact with some of the best minds in the business. Ed spends his non-compute time with his wife and two daughters.


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Snowboard Party 2 (Games)
Snowboard Party 2 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Crowned the best snowboarding game available on the market, Snowboard Party is back to fulfill all your adrenaline needs in... | Read more »
The best games like Animal Crossing on m...
Animal Crossing amiibo Festival is out right now for the Wii U, reminding us of just how much fun that world can be. Or at least to go back and check in on our villages once in a while. [Read more] | Read more »
Between 2 Taps - Tap for Tap interview M...
Hello, and welcome back to Between 2 Taps, Tap for Tap’s Indie Dev interview series. [Read more] | Read more »
Facility 47 (Games)
Facility 47 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: You wake up alone and freezing in an icy cell. You try the cell door but it’s locked, it seems that you are stuck with no... | Read more »
The best Photoshop alternative on iPad
Instagram and Lightroom are great and all, but sometimes people need to get extra creative with their image editing.Like, Photoshop creative. If you're one of these people, take a look at our pick for the best mobile Photoshop experience on iPad... | Read more »
The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land guide -...
A new update for The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land was released last week, making it the perfect time for you to head back to your base and take out some walkers. Here’s the lowdown on what’s new to the game, and how to take advantage. [Read more] | Read more »
Goat Rider guide - Tips and tricks to st...
We've all been there. One second, we're riding high on a crazed goat, and the next, we've been tossed off it like someone who's no good at goat ridin'. [Read more] | Read more »
Real Boxing 2 CREED: How to become a gre...
Just in time for Rocky fans who can’t wait to see CREED, the latest movie, we have the official tie-in game,Real Boxing 2 CREED. It builds on the success of its predecessor and there’s lots to take in so we at 148apps thought we’d run you through... | Read more »
CoinOp Heroes 2 guide - How to build an...
CoinOp Heroes 2 justlaunched and, like all clickers, it's dangerously addictive stuff. You have to furiously tap your screen to defeat wave after wave of foes and earn an insane amount of cash to spend on character upgrades and an army of minions... | Read more »
Dr. Panda Firefighters (Education)
Dr. Panda Firefighters 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: FIGHT FIRES AND SAVE THE DAY!Work together with Dr. Panda and his firefighting team to rescue his trapped... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

Save $30-$40 on new Apple TVs after rebate
Adorama has new Apple TVs on sale for up to $40 off MSRP after mail-in rebate, good through December 15th. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 32GB Apple TV: $119.99... Read more
13-Inch Haswell MacBook Air At Two Years – Th...
The 13-inch mid-2013 “Haswell” MacBook Air I ordered in Apple’s November 2013 Black Friday sale was my first new Mac in four and a half years — the longest interval I’ve gone between system upgrades... Read more
Target Black Friday Early Access deals: $100...
Target is offering early access to their Black Friday deals on Apple products on their online store for today, the 25th, only. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available): - Apple... Read more
BlackBerry Q3 Mobility Index Report Finds iOS...
BlackBerry has announced results of its thirteenth Good Mobility Index Report, showing that organizations are increasingly building custom secure apps. Among Good Powered by BlackBerry (formerly Good... Read more
Wednesday roundup of early Black Friday Mac s...
Save up to $500 on a new Mac with these early Black Friday deals from Apple resellers, currently the lowest prices available for these models: (1) B&H Photo has all new Macs on sale for up to $... Read more
iPod nano on sale for $119, $30 off MSRP
Walmart has the 16GB iPod nano (various colors) on sale for $119.20 on their online store for a limited time. That’s $30 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale... Read more
Adorama Black Friday deals: Up to $400 off Ma...
Adorama has released their Black Friday deals for 2015. Save up to $400 on MacBook Pros, $200 on MacBooks and MacBook Airs, and $270 on iMacs. Use code RYBFDEAL during checkout to see these prices.... Read more
B&H Photo Deals: $200 off 12-inch 1.2GHz...
In addition to the B&H Photo Black Friday week sales we posted yesterday, B&H has lowered their price on two products to $200 off MSRP: - 12″ 1.2GHz Gray Retina MacBook: $1399 save $200 - 13... Read more
Best Buy Early Access: Today only, Up to $125...
Best Buy has iPad Air 2s on sale for up to $125 off MSRP and Apple Watch models on sale on their online store for up to $100 off MSRP with special codes through midnight CT tonight. Choose free... Read more
UPPERCASE DESIGNS Premium Ultra Thin Keyboard...
UPPERCASE Designs today announced its new Premium Ultra Thin Keyboard Protector and its Palm Rest Protector Set for the 12-inch MacBook. The accessories provide durable protection for the 12-inch... Read more

Jobs Board

Hardware Systems Integration Engineer - *App...
# Hardware Systems Integration Engineer - Apple Watch Job Number: 39380139 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Apr. 23, 2015 Weekly Hours: **Job Read more
Sr. Technical/Project Manager, *Apple* Educ...
# Sr. Technical/Project Manager, Apple Education Job Number: 36588557 New York City, New York, United States Posted: Jul. 30, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Merchant Operations Manager: *Apple* Pay -...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more than Read more
*Apple* Pay QA Manager - Apple Inc. (United...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more than Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.