What it is: With more types of files—photos, music, and such—going digital, backing up data becomes ever more important. And yet, most users don’t do regular backups. Apple attempts to address this paradox with by building into OS X 10.5 an easy backup tool that will save regular users from mistakenly deleting files or suffering from a catastrophic hard-drive crash.
What’s changed: From what Apple’s demonstrated publicly since first previewing Time Machine in August 2006, not much. But there are some details about the built-in backup technology that are new.
When you first attach a new external hard drive to your Mac, Time Machine will offer to use that as your back-up drive. If you click on Enable Time Machine, that’s it—Time Machine will back up to that drive on a regular basis, without you having to configure a thing.
Apple’s new AirPort Extreme base station includes a feature that lets you attach a USB hard drive to it and share that drive’s contents with anyone on your local network. As it turns out, Apple says that Time Machine is perfectly suited to back up all the Macs in your house to that one centralized, networked hard drive. (And for the time it’ll take to back up your hard drive via a Wi-Fi connection, you’ll want the high speeds of 802.11n offered by the latest version of AirPort Extreme.)
Apple’s Time Machine page also indicates that you can encrypt your backups if you want, and manually set specific files not to be backed up (presumably large ones).—JASON SNELL