The Value of New/Expanded Backup Support Tools

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During his keynote speech at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco in June, Apple CEO Steve Jobs showed off the newest features of Leopard, Apple’s new operating system slated for release in October. One of these features is called Time Machine, a backup system designed to be easy to install and user-friendly.



Time Machine backs data up to a local hard drive or network server, and it can even do so wirelessly. This enables users to search for lost files (or the their entire system) and restore them.



After an initial setup, Time Machine creates daily incremental backups of every file on the user’s system, even program files for the operating system itself. Any file that a user has changed or deleted can be restored to a specific date and time, thus the “time machine” element of the functionality.



Upon opening Time Machine, the user scrolls through “ghost” windows of previous file changes, and a previous version of a document — even if it’s been deleted — can then be selected and retrieved.



Users can restore files individually or in groups from an earlier point in time to retrieve lost data or undo damage. The functionality is not limited to Apple files — the underlying technology will be made available for implementation in vendor-driven software applications. Files can be restored not only within Time Machine but also within other applications.



Meanwhile, Microsoft’s new and expanded backup support tools are already with us. The recently released, highly touted Windows Vista includes the Backup and Restore Center, which makes it easier for users to guard data against human error, hardware failure and general corruption, centralizing this function in one location.



The Backup and Restore Center is an application that gives users the ability to schedule periodic backups of files on their computer. As with Time Machine, backups are incremental, storing only the changes each time, minimizing disk usage.



It’s called Automatic Backup, and it is designed to take the element of chance out of users forgetting to back up their work.



The Ultimate, Business and Enterprise versions of Vista also feature Complete PC Backup. This backs up an entire computer as an image onto an external hard drive, a secondary hard drive or a writable CD or DVD or to a network location. It enables the user to re-create a machine setup onto new hardware or hard disk in case of hardware failures.



Complete PC Restore can be initiated from within Vista or from its installation CD in the event the PC is so corrupt that it cannot boot up.



Another element of the Backup and Restore Center is System Restore, which enables users to restore their computers to an earlier state without losing data. This is helpful in circumstances where a computer is malfunctioning because of a change in settings, a problem application, or a virus or malware attack.



Restoring to a point before the computer began malfunctioning likely will provide a fix for the problem at hand, and accomplishing this without losing data is ideal. Applications installed after the point to which the computer was rolled back will be uninstalled and can be reinstalled with an eye toward better functionality.



System Restore automatically creates restore points, but this can be done manually, as well.

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