+Tips: Backing Up

With all the backup methods available today, it can be hard to choose the best method. Here is a look at some of the methods with their pros and cons. 

1.  Time Machine

In 2008 Apple released a great OS X Update, known as Leopard.  Leopard contained Time Machine, a unique integrated backup system.  Because Time Machine is actually part of the system you don't have to give it special permission to copy your data or tell it what you want to back up- it automatically backs up everything.  Plus, it's easy to configure.  Just connect any Mac-ready external hard drive and Time Machine will ask if you want to back up with that drive.  You can back up on multiple drives or back up multiple machines to one drive!  Time Machine doesn't require you to keep it plugged in either; when you reconnect the drive, Time Machine picks up where it left off.  You can even enter the hard drive to see everything you have backed up and easily retrieve the entire system or a single file.

Conversely, Time Machine's initial back up can take hours as the system makes a full copy of everything  on your drive.  Subsequent backups take minutes however, and the system checks hourly.  If you don't want to back something up, you have to configure it manually.  You also have to purchase an external hard drive at least as large as the computers drive and they range in price from $80 to over $500.  If you forget to plug in the drive, it may be months before you back up again.  If the drive isn't big enough, Time Machine will overwrite the oldest backup file and, to recover anything, you have to have access to the drive.

Pros:  Easy to use, Automatic Backup, Built in, Easy recovery, Backs up everything

Cons: Takes time, Drive costs money, Easy to forget,  Must recover from drive, Backs up everything

2.  Dropbox, Sugarsync, and Box.

Cloud based storage such as Dropbox, Sugarsync, and Box are easy to configure and can help you sync items across multiple platforms (Mac, iOS, Android, Windows).  You do have to download the software from their website and the apps to get access, but they are all small apps and don't take up lots of space on your drive.  Syncing data across multiple devices is great, but you only have two to five gigabytes of free space.  After that you are required to pay a monthly fee for more storage space.  

Pros: Easy to use, Cloud based, Multiple Platforms, 2-5 GB Free

Cons: Must have Internet to use, App based, Monthly fees for more storage

3.  Carbonite

Carbonite backs up your data to the cloud for an annual fee.  The fees are based per machine but the storage is unlimited.  After you download the software and choose which files to backup the process is automatic and secure.  Your data is password protected and you can access it on your computer anytime.  Just like Time Machine, you can choose to restore the entire system or a single file.  

Pros: Automatic backup, Cloud based, Unlimited storage

Cons: Requires Internet Access, Annual Fees apply

4. iCloud

iCloud can backup your iOS device.  You can choose to turn the backup off or on in the iCloud options in the Settings app.  iTunes purchases don't count towards your data limit of 5 GB.  Photos in the Camera Roll, Messages, Preferences, Voicemail, and App Data are all backed up.  Data synced from your computer will not be backed up.  The back up will run once a day as long as the system is connected to the internet, plugged into the power adapter, and the screen is locked.  You can tell it to backup anytime over wifi by choosing the Back Up Now option in the iCloud options. If your backup is over 5 GB you can pay for more storage for an annual fee.

Pros: Automatic backup, cloud based, iTunes Purchases backup for free

Cons: Doesn't backup synced data, Annual fee for more than 5GB of storage

Personally, I back up my Mac with Time Machine and have special documents and photos in Dropbox while my iPad syncs with iCloud.  Most of my family backs up with Carbonite so they don't have to remember to plug that drive in!  There is no "right" way to backup and multiple sources mean there is less chance of data loss.  

Which methods do you use?


App Review: Duolingo

Learning new languages has never been simpler than with Duolingo, a great app that helps you learn a new language. 

Duolingo currently teaches: 







Unlike other language apps that rely on boring rounds of vocabulary tests, Duolingo uses a simple touch interface with pictures and sounds.  As you learn the words, a voiceover pronounces them to you - and Duolingo can even check your pronunciation using the microphones built into iOS devices! 

The languages are divided into section by word type and each section is designated with pictures that indicate which words you'll be learning.   

The skill tree online

Each section has three lessons.  The lessons all have four hearts- if you make a mistake, you lose a heart.  When you lose all four, you have to start the lesson over.  Once all three lessons are complete, you earn a trophy.  A gold trophy.  All of the lessons earn you coins as well, and you get bonus coins for each heart still full at the end of the lesson.   I'm sure you're wondering why there are trophies and coins.  For what other reason, Facebook!  You can compare your progress with your friends and beat them with your own scores.  Competitive learning!  If this isn't appealing, don't worry about the social aspects, you aren't required to add friends or connect to Facebook.

Duolingo has made it as simple as possible to learn a new language wherever you are- there's a great website as well as an iOS and Android app.  The online interface is very similar to the app, with some great options: Immersion, Discussion, and Vocabulary.

Immersion has a directory of literature and articles that are translated for you to read and translate for yourself.  You can even check other's translations and upload your own. 

Discussion is a space for giving feedback to Duolingo, whether it be good or "needs improvement."  If you have an issue with the app, this is the place to go for direction.

Vocabulary lets you check how well you know the words you've learned.  Duolingo had a great method for helping you remember the words- after so long, you lose some of the strength rating for a word.  You can even see how long ago you practiced it, and you can always choose the "Practice weakest words" button to brush up on them. 

So many great things for one App, with its multiple languages, friendly competition, simple interface, but I still haven't reached the best part: Duolingo is free!



+Tip: Right-click Mouse

One of the biggest questions we get from new Mac users concerns the mouse.  PC users are used to right clicking to get to the options menu but Apple mice look like they have one button.

That's just on the outside!

All Apple mice since 2005 have two buttons underneath the plastic cover.  Here's the setup:

Under the cover are two sensors, one on either side of the scroll-ball.  These mice are not set up to right-click automatically.  Vist your system preferences and choose Mouse from the Hardware options (second row).  You can choose what each button does- both are normally set to be "primary."  Changing the right most to "secondary" will guarantee that every time you click on the right side it will bring up the right-click menu.

Newer operating systems may have a simpler options.  If you are using your mouse left-handed, you may want to consider switching your primary and secondary functions

The Apple Magic Mouse is very similar.  The sensors are still on either side of the mouse, but there's no longer a scroll-button.  Instead, you can swipe down the center of the mouse to scroll- it's the same motion as scrolling an app on your iPhone! You can even go back a page by swiping left or right across the mouse with two fingers.  

No matter which mouse you use, you can right-click to get the options menu.  If your mouse isn't showing the right menu, check your system preferences and verify the settings.  Enjoy!


iMac Upcycling

Does anyone remember these?

iMac G3 Ceiling Lights

Those are iMac G3s, circa 1999.  Apple discontinued this style of iMac in 2001 and people have been upcycling them ever since, mostly into cat-beds or aquariums.  Thanks to ubergizmo for showing us a new use for these antique machines!


Classes Blog Intro


Welcome to the MacResource Classes blog.  We'll be posting here about some great Apple apps, gadgets, news, and tips for both iOS and Mac.

Do you have questions about your iOS device or Mac computer?  I love to answer questions and help you understand your Apple product better.  You can also choose to have me blog your question "Dear Abby" style.  I will never post your name or anything that can identify you to other people!  We take your security seriously at all times.  If many people are asking the same question, I'll make a special post that covers the topic.  

Thanks for your support!


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