Tag Archives: backup

Mac Users: Think You Can’t Get A Virus? Think Again.

7 Oct


IT’S A COMMON MYTH THAT I HEAR OFTEN: MACS DON’T GET VIRUSES. It’s simply not true. What is true? If you don’t have up-to-date anti-virus software, you’re playing with fire.


Norton automatically detected this phishing site, which, coincidentally, is designed to look like a legitimate Norton page.

I use Norton Internet Security, which is available for Mac and PC. A one-year subscription is about $60, and makes sure I have the latest virus definitions through its LiveUpdate feature. This is CRITICAL. If you don’t have the latest definitions installed, your software will only search for old viruses. Updating the definitions ensures that you have protection against the latest ones.

Norton also has other protections. For example, it warns me if I visit a suspicious website, as it did when I was searching for the url to add to this post. To be clear, this warning can be triggered by suspicious content from any source, not just a Norton impersonator.

Even with my vigilant efforts to prevent my Mac from getting a virus, Norton AntiVirus, the software I use, found not one, but two. The infected files were sent in SPAM emails that made it into my Time Machine backup volume. They proved tricky to delete at first, but with the help of Norton support, I was able to get rid of them before they did any damage.

Don’t put yourself and your data at risk. Whether you have a Mac or PC, to make sure your computer is virus free, you MUST have anti-virus software, and update the definitions regularly! 


backup, BackUp, BACKUP!!

2 Oct

Sad Mac Icon

If you’ve ever taken a class with me, you’ve heard me say it: never, ever, EVER have only one copy of your work. It’s a recipe for disaster. Not if, but when something like a hard drive crash happens, and you’re faced with the horrifying fact that you can’t recover your data, you’ll pray to the Terabyte Gods, promising that you’ll ALWAYS backup from now on, if they PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE JUST LET EVERYTHING COME BACK ONE MORE TIME SO YOU CAN RESCUE YOUR PORTFOLIO, RESUME, AND THOSE ADORABLE PICS OF YOUR DOG DRESSED UP FOR HALLOWEEN!!! I had an internal and an external hard drive both die on me at different times, and even with everything backed up, it was still a pain to replace and restore them. But, it was such a relief to know that I didn’t loose any of my work or personal files, because I had those backups! The good news is that there are easy ways to make copies of your stuff, without you having to do a single thing once you do a quick initial setup. My own solution includes an external hard drive, and a cloud account, and while having two backups may seem extreme, I have good reasons for doing it this way.

Method 1: Mac Time Machine and an external LaCie desktop hard drive

Time Machine System Preferences in Mac OS X Time Machine comes with Mac OS X, and couldn’t be simpler. Just plug in an external drive like my LaCie d2 Quadra, or use Apple’s Airport Time Capsule, go to the Apple Menu > System Preferences… > Time Machine to choose your drive or the Airport as your backup volume, and Time Machine will copy your entire system to it. The software makes hourly backups stored for 24 hours, daily ones stored for a month, and weekly ones stored indefinitely. If your backup disk is full, it will delete the oldest ones to make room for the newest ones, so it’s a good idea to buy as much storage as you can afford, especially if you have a lot of hi-res digital photos or video. If you ever need to restore a file or folder, you can launch Time Machine from the Applications Folder, find the version of the item you want to restore, and in a few clicks, you’re back in business. If you need to restore your whole system, you can choose the last full backup and restore everything to where it was before the crash.

Method 2: Carbonite with unlimited cloud storage

Carbonite System Preferences in Mac OS XOne of the big advantages to backing up to the cloud with Carbonite is that you can access and restore your data from their website if your system isn’t available. After a free 15-day trial, the cost is an affordable $59 a year for the lowest priced plan. The initial backup can take days or even weeks, depending on how much digital information you’re uploading and your connection speed, but it happens in the background, and once it’s completed, your data will be encrypted and stored securely in your password-protected cloud account. Carbonite will then automatically scan your system to check for new and changed files. You can check the status of your backup at any time through the Apple Menu > System Preferences… > Carbonite. Download their free mobile app for iOS and Android, and once you log in with your password, you can view your stored data on your smartphone or tablet, and even access it if you have apps installed that are able to read the files. One thing to note about Carbonite is that it won’t back up your software, only the data files and folders, so make sure to manually make copies of your application installers or DVDs, as the license permits. It’s a good idea to do that regardless of your automatic backup strategy.

Why two full backups?

Do you know what the average life span of a hard drive is? It’s about 3-5 years. Are you scared? Good, you should be. Backing up to an external drive is not at all a bad solution, but that device has a lifespan, too, and it’s likely attached to your computer 24/7, like mine is. All it takes is one thief, flood, or fire to steal, damage, or destroy your computer AND everything attached to it, or for the drive to die, and you’ve lost everything that was stored on it. You can always manually burn DVDs and put them in a separate place, but I find a cloud backup to be a much easier solution. Some people are concerned about privacy when using cloud storage, but I feel that the chances of my account being hacked are very slim, and I’m comfortable with the security that encryption and a strong password provide me.

Having an external drive and a cloud account gives me an extra level of protection in the possible event of equipment failure, and in the unlikely event of a disaster. After a little effort in the beginning, automatic backups to either storage method mean that I don’t have to worry about loosing my important files, and can easily restore my digital life. One thing is for certain: if you’re using a computer, you’ll someday be faced with a dead hard drive, or a repair that may wipe out all your data, so give yourself the peace of mind that comes from knowing that if you need to, you can get back up and running again, in just a few clicks.

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