Build a backup server with Apple’s Backup utility

Interested in turning your old Mac into a backup server? There are a number of programs that are up to the task. But if you spring for a .Mac account every year, why not take advantage of Apple’s Backup software, which is provided free to .Mac members?

Setting up backup

Once you’ve downloaded and installed Backup on the computer you want to backup from, you’ll need to tell it which files to backup. Open the program and click the plus sign (+) button. Select the Custom plan template and click on Choose Plan. Give the backup plan a name, then add folder, files, or anything else you want to backup to the Backup Items section. To add folders, select the plus sign (+) button, use the Files & Folders tab to select the items you want, select the Include This Folder option, and the click on Done (alternately, you can just drag folders from the Finder directly into the Backup Items window). You can also use the QuickPicks tab to select categories of files, such as all Microsoft Word documents or your iTunes library.

Once you’ve selected your files, you’ll need to specify where the backups should be stored. This will be the backup server you created using your old Mac. Click on the plus sign (+) button under Destination And Schedule and set the Destination pop-up menu to Network. Click on the Folder pop-up menu and select Choose Location. In the Open dialog box, select Network from the sidebar, connect to your backup server, and mount your volume (this will be your home folder, if your Mac has a single disk; or a secondary or external disk). Choose the mounted volume from the sidebar, navigate to the folder you’re using to store your backup, and select Open. When you’re ready to run your backup, click on the Back Up Now button.

Restoring files from your backup

To restore from a backup, open Backup, select your plan, and click on the Restore button. In the resulting window, highlight the backup you want to restore from (for instance, the last backup you ran). Use the checkboxes determine which files get restored. If you need all your files, just check them all; otherwise select just the files you want. Hit the Restore Selection button when you’re done.

A word of caution

Some Backup users have reported problems related to the program’s restore function. To make sure it’s working correctly, test Backup by occasionally running a restore from your backed up files (be sure to direct the restored files to a different location so you don’t accidentally copy over any original files).

.Mac members can use Apple’s Backup program to automatically upload files or entire folders, such as the Documents folder, to a backup server elsewhere on the network.
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