How to restore your data from the cloud

Joe Kissell Senior Contributor, Macworld

Joe Kissell is a senior editor of TidBits and the author of numerous ebooks in the Take Control series, including the just-published Take Control of Apple Mail.
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Online backups are a useful component of a well-balanced backup strategy. Whether you rely primarily on cloud storage for backups (see “Backup Basics”) or use the cloud to supplement local backups such as bootable duplicates (see “Bulletproof Backups”), it’s crucial to understand how you will go about restoring your data after disaster strikes.

Disaster is the operative word here. If you merely need to restore a few individual files or folders, usually that’s simple enough—typically you use either the backup client software installed on your Mac or the backup provider’s website to specify which versions of which files you want, click a button or two, and wait for the files to download. No big deal.

But what if your entire hard disk dies and needs replacing, or your Mac is stolen and you have to start over with a new one? Such situations require a different strategy, because your online backups almost certainly don’t include every single file on your Mac; and in any case, even with a fast broadband connection, you may be looking at days or weeks to restore whatever data you keep in the cloud.

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How to restore data from Time Machine in Mountain Lion

Leah Yamshon Assistant Editor, Macworld

Leah started out as a PCWorld columnist before Macworld scooped her up as an assistant editor. Now, she happily writes features and covers iOS apps, smartphone cases, gadget bags, and social media trends across all three of our sites.
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If you use Time Machine regularly, you're ready for whatever technological mishaps life throws at you. Restoring data from Time Machine is just as easy as backing things up in the first place. Read more »

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How to restore data from Time Machine in Mountain Lion

Now that you’ve been using Time Machine regularly to back up your computer, you should be fully prepared if your Mac crashes or if you need to move data from one Mac to another. Restoring data from Time Machine is just as easy as backing things up in the first place.

Restore a single file or folder

If you’re looking for a certain file or folder, start by connecting the external drive that you use for Time Machine backups or by making sure that you can connect to your Time Capsule. Click the Time Machine item in the menu bar at the top of your screen (it looks like a clock with an arrow running counterclockwise around it), and choose Enter Time Machine. Here, all of your saved backups will appear in chronological order. Use the visual timeline on the right side to scroll through your backups and look for specific items or folders. Older dates are indicated in pink on the timeline; the most up-to-date data on your Mac is indicated in white. (You’ll see the word 'Now' in bold, white letters on the timeline.)

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How to set up Time Machine in Mountain Lion

Leah Yamshon Assistant Editor, Macworld

Leah started out as a PCWorld columnist before Macworld scooped her up as an assistant editor. Now, she happily writes features and covers iOS apps, smartphone cases, gadget bags, and social media trends across all three of our sites.
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If you value your data—whether it’s some perfect photos you took last weekend, your entire music collection on iTunes, or your draft of the next great American novel—you must stay on top of regular system backup. One of the easiest ways of doing so is to use OS X’s built-in backup program, Time Machine. Time Machine works with your Mac and an external drive to save important documents, photos, and system files regularly. Apart from keeping spares of every file, Time Machine maintains a record of how your system looked on any given day, so you can easily put everything back the way it was if something goes wrong.

OS X has included Time Machine since OS X 10.5 (Leopard). Here’s how to get set up in OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) using an external drive. For more tips on backing up your data, see "Backup basics" and "Bulletproof backups."

Step 1: Select an external drive

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Bulletproof backups: When you absolutely can't lose any data

Joe Kissell Senior Contributor, Macworld

Joe Kissell is a senior editor of TidBits and the author of numerous ebooks in the Take Control series, including the just-published Take Control of Apple Mail.
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If you’re already backing up your Mac—perhaps by following the simple steps in “Backup Basics”—pat yourself on the back. Having any sort of backup is much better than having none, and your probability of recovering from data loss is dramatically increased. But for many people, a barebones backup strategy won’t cut it. If your livelihood depends on your data being available at all times, if you’re in the middle of a time-sensitive project, or if you’re just paranoid and want to make sure nothing has fallen through the cracks, you may want more of a guarantee.

How can you turn so-so backups into fantastic, bulletproof backups? Although everyone’s situation is a bit different, I have several recommendations that should vastly improve the quality and reliability of any backup plan.

Save old versions of files

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Backup basics: The quick, something-is-better-than-nothing backup system

Joe Kissell Senior Contributor, Macworld

Joe Kissell is a senior editor of TidBits and the author of numerous ebooks in the Take Control series, including the just-published Take Control of Apple Mail.
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If you have no backups at all, you probably already realize your data is at risk. Any number of random things—a theft, a hurricane, or a hacker with too much time on his hands—could wipe out everything on your Mac. But you may be reluctant to start backing up because it seems like a big, scary, and possibly expensive undertaking. If that describes your situation, read on for tips on setting up easy, inexpensive backups in as little as 10 minutes. This isn’t a comprehensive strategy by any means (for that, see for my article “Bullet-proof backups”), but it’s a good starting point for anyone seeking a quick fix.

Drop it in the box

Let’s start with your day-to-day files. For file backups, I’m a huge fan of online backup services. My favorite is CrashPlan (), but among the other excellent options are Backblaze and Dolly Drive (). These services are fairly inexpensive and easy to set up; and if you choose one of them, you can skip the remainder of this section. But if you want the simplest, fastest, cheapest option, let me suggest a different type of product: Dropbox ().

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Building better reminders: Quick to-dos and audible alerts

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Lion’s iCal and Mountain Lion’s Calendar applications have made creating events easier by way of the Create Quick Event feature, which allows you to use natural language such as “lunch with Dan tomorrow” to set up an event. But more convenient still is the ability to create an event or reminder from within any application with the press of a couple of keys. I’ll show you how to do both. Even better, I’ll describe how to enhance one of those methods to make it even more useful…and audible.

Create reminders quickly

Mountain Lion's to-do items no longer live in Calendar, having earned a spot in their own Reminders application. Yes, you can click Reminders in the Dock and then click the plus-sign (+) to make a new reminder. But with the help of an easy Automator workflow, you can keep your hands on the keyboard and make reminders using a keyboard shortcut. It works this way:

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