If I had any hair on my head, it would be on fire right now. I want to warn everybody about a subtle change that has happened recently, and now I am starting to see a big problem:
When people upgrade to a later version of the operating system, Apple now asks a simple question: Do you want to turn Filevault on? It’s one of multiple questions during the upgrade process, and the default is “Yes”, so most folks don’t give it a second thought. They are in a hurry to get back to their normal routine. They just click “Continue”.
What folks don’t realize is, they are being asked if they want to encrypt everything on the entire hard drive. What’s wrong with that? Well, if you forget your password, YOU CAN’T GET YOUR DATA BACK. Nobody can. Not even Apple, or the FBI or the NSA. Imagine losing your college thesis, your family’s genealogy, your baby pictures, or your wedding pictures. Forever. Imagine what it would cost you to start over from zero.
In the midst of the whole computer security controversy, Apple is tightening security even more. This is all very virtuous, but it scares the crap out of me when I find somebody who has no backup for their computer. So, let’s fix that, and NOW:
- Walk into your local Costco (my favorite source) and buy the biggest hard drive they sell. At the moment, it’s a Seagate 5-Terabyte drive, usually around $129. If you don’t have a Costco membership, get a really big drive at Best Buy. There is no such thing as a “Macintosh” drive (they all work). There is also no such thing as a bad hard drive brand or model. They are all excellent in 2016 – The technology has been perfected. Finally, there is no point whatsoever to getting a smaller, cheaper drive. They cost almost as much as the bigger drives. You’re worth it, so don’t cheap out on yourself.
- Plug the drive into your Mac. Your Mac’s operating system contains a free, built-in and automatic backup system called Time Machine. It should immediately ask you if you want to use the hard drive as a backup drive. Agree with that offer. It should then warn you that the drive will be erased. That is fine with you, so go ahead and agree.
- Leave the drive connected overnight, and don’t shut down the Mac. It will stay awake until the first full backup is complete.
- If you have a desktop (non-laptop) Mac, then NEVER DISCONNECT the drive, ever, for any reason. Don’t shove it in a closet. If you leave it connected forever, then it will silently and perfectly keep your backup fresh. That way, if the computer dies some day, you hook up the backup drive to a new Mac, and agree to restore, and it will operate exactly as before, only faster. You will never lose data, ever again, if you have a backup drive.
- If you have a laptop, then get in the habit of plugging the backup drive to your laptop every time that you plug it into power. The BEST way to back up a laptop is to use Apple’s own Time Capsule wireless router. That way, you are getting backed-up automatically and wirelessly. The second-best choice is to hook a hard drive to the USB port on an Apple Airport Extreme wireless router (any model, even old ones) – That’s a less-expensive way to accomplish wireless backups. The least-convenient choice is to hook your laptop to an external drive, but it is far superior to having no backup at all!