Dear Mac users, please, please backup today

SSD drives are superfast, but there ain't no recovery -- just backup

That fast Mac with an SSD drive delivers blistering performance -- until disaster strikes. That's when you really need to have a backup system in place.

Data integrity

Most SSD users don't understand that their Mac's SSD drive is not another type of hard disk drive (HDD), but works in a completely different way. This means if things go wrong there's no way of getting your data back -- unless you backup.

My former colleague, ex-Macworld editor David Fanning learned this when his six-week-old MacBook Air had a catastrophic SSD failure. This wasn't a total disaster as his triple backup routine meant he lost time, not data, but it inspired him to write this guide to SSD risk.


The different ways SSDs and HDDs manage data is the problem. When you delete data on an HDD the data isn't totally removed until you overwrite it -- the system simply treats it as an empty data block and apps such as Data Recovery Guru can raise the data from the dead.

SSDs work in a different way and would slow down over time were it not for Apple's use of TRIM, which erases all your data as soon as you delete a file, making data recovery impossible.

Data recovery software expert Ben Slaney explains: “I used to help people retrieve lost data with Data Recovery Guru. But I realized SSDs with TRIM support are fundamentally different and impervious to deleted file recovery. So I decided to turn my attention to helping people secure their data with Mac Backup Guru to avoid needing data recovery in the first place.”

One more thing

There's another good reason Mac users with SSD drives should backup -- those drives have limited lives. Data can only be rewritten so many times before the drive simply stops working. This means your Mac can be working fine on the Tuesday only to completely expire the following morning. Read this for an in-depth explanation -- and please…

Backup today

Backup is essential for Mac users using SSD drives. For best results use triple backup:

Level 1: Local backup

Synch an external drive to your Mac and use back up software to make daily bootable archives. Solutions such as Mac Backup Guru will even create versioned backups.

Level 2: Cloud backup

Use cloud backup for your work. Keep all your documents in a folder that's live synched to the cloud and you'll have that secured. Dropbox is the best known, but iCloud, OneDrive and others are also available.

Level 3: Offsite backup

Consider offsite backup to protect against fire, flood or theft. Remote online backup services such as Backblaze, CarboniteCrashplan and others can help, though online backup and recovery is very time consuming. You can also use Crashplan to backup to a remotely hosted drive. Another solution: create a bootable archive drive on a weekly basis to store outside the office (use two drives and swap them over, for convenience).

And Time Machine

Time Machine's biggest problem is that it isn’t bootable -- if your drive dies, you needs to replace or repair it before you can restore the data from your archive.

Do it

Your entire digital existence is at risk if you don't backup, so get wise -- backup today. With a routine in place you can breathe a little easier, safe in the knowledge that even if your SSD drive does expire, you won't lose your music, movies, photos and other precious data. I hope you never do.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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