Sound Advice: Data backups just plain good practice

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Question: I have a 5-year-old Mac Pro and use Picasa to organize and print my photographs. Recently the Picasa icon disappeared from my desktop and I could not find it. I spoke to a friend who is tech-savvy, and he told me how to drag the Picasa icon from the Applications folder into the Dock. I now have a Picasa icon, but when I click on it I get an error message saying the program has crashed or stopped working. I am extremely worried. It is bad enough that this problem is keeping me from enjoying my favorite hobby in my recent retirement; now I am worried I have lost all my photographs as well. There are tens of thousands of pictures from a period of over 10 years. What can I do?

PAUL S.,

Cranberry

First of all, I would not worry. I did some research on your problem and found many stories similar to yours. If you upgrade your Mac Pro to a newer version of Mac OS X (Snow Leopard or Mavericks) and download and install the latest version of Picasa, you will be up and running again in no time.

The new version of Picasa will update with all your previous folders, and you can continue on as before.

This brings me to the second part of my answer. A network administrator for a large company once told me, “There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who back up their computers, and those that wish they had.” If you had backups, you may have had some frustration about your system but there would not have been any anxiety over whether all your pictures were gone or not. It's just plain good practice, and it is so easy to do these days there really isn't any excuse for not backing up your system.

Your Mac has a program called Time Machine that will automatically do backups for you. Look at the the size of your Mac's hard drive and get an external drive that is several times bigger.

For a 5-year-old Mac Pro, I think 2 TB would be a good size.

Connect the hard drive to your computer and launch Time Machine. It will reformat the hard drive and start doing backups for you automatically. If you ever need to restore your computer to an earlier point in time, it will do so very easily.

Windows users will find a wide variety of hard drives for sale with bundled backup software. I prefer the Western Digital and Toshiba brands.

I was recently asked by another reader about a long-term storage system for photographs from his digital SLR. He was looking for something safer than a hard drive (which can become corrupted) and could contain a lot of photographs.

Blu-ray burners and blank media have come down dramatically in price and are an excellent way to store photographs. A blank single-layer Blu-ray can hold 25 GB of data. Other World Computing sells a portable external Blu-ray burner for only $89, or $125 including the Roxio Toast 11 disc-burning software. A 25-count spindle of blank 25 GB Blu-ray Discs is only $19.


Read product reviews by Don Lindich at soundadviceblog.com.


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