Blog Archives

Protect your Mac’s data

 

Customers often ask us how to back up and how often do they need to do it. The short answer to this is: How valuable is your data to you? If not at all, don’t backup. Beyond that, you want to back up as much as your data is valuable to you.

Backing up doesn’t have to be complicated. Think about this rule of thumb: Your data is not backed up unless it’s in at least two separate places. For most people, we recommend a local backup and a remote backup. This is a very high level of data protection.

Before we talk about which backup solutions are best and how to do it, let’s talk about where you store your data.  Ideally, all of your data fits on your Mac and you back up that data to two places: an external hard drive (your local backup) and to a cloud service (this is your remote backup).  Some customers want to buy a laptop with a small drive and then use external drives to store the rest of their data. While this can make their Mac purchase less expensive, it leads to a very complicated backup situation. Say you have all the data that fits on your Mac and the rest stored on an external hard drive: now you have to get a second external hard drive to backup both your Mac AND to back up the external drive with the rest of your data. How often will you be connecting both of those drives to your Mac and backing up? For most people, the answer is “never” or “not enough”. This is too complicated and bound to fail. (If you’re currently in this scenario, consider upgrading your internal drive.)

For local backups, we recommend using Time Machine; it’s already on your Mac and it just needs a place to put your backups onto. If you have a laptop, we recommend using a Time Capsule, which will make wireless backups using Time Machine. Once setup, it requires you to remember nothing and your data is continuously backed up. With an external hard drive, you have to remember to plug it in every once in a while to perform backups. Unfortunately, too many times, we see customers where the time they lose their data is the time they didn’t plug it in for a month. For desktops, a Time Capsule is not needed—you can just plug in an external drive, tell Time Machine to use that drive for backups, and forget it. If it’s always plugged in, it will always be backing up.

The final safety net is a remote backup. Why have two backups? The likelihood of both your Mac failing AND your backup drive failing at the same time are low. But that’s not the only scenario for data loss. Power surges, fire, water damage from flood, theft—you want your data in more than one physical location. We recommend Backblaze. Backblaze is a remote backup solution that backs up your computer whenever it’s connected to the internet. You don’t have to do anything except pay $5 per month, per computer. Backblaze is different from other backup services because they give you options for restoring your data. In a time of crisis, do you have time for all of your data (likely lots of gigabytes or maybe terabytes) to be restored wirelessly? It can take hours or days to restore an entire system wirelessly. What good is a backup if it’s difficult or inconvenient to use it when you need it the most? Backblaze can ship you a hard drive with your data on it, if needed. Once we had a customer with an RAID and a local attached hard drive. Unbeknownst to them, the hard drive got unplugged and then the RAID failed. They would have lost all of their data. But Backblaze had it all. You can never have too many backups.

Follow these simple guidelines and your data will be very well protected.

 

 

Posted in MTS Best Practices

MTS Best Practices: Upgrading to macOS High Sierra

Apple seems to really want me to upgrade to High Sierra. My Mac asks me every few days if I want to upgrade. I almost want to upgrade just to get it to stop bugging me. But should I?

There are several things to think about before you push that all-too-convenient Install Now button.

Features

First, do I need any of the new features. Most people don’t know what the features are but if you know you need something, then it’s probably worth upgrading. In the case of the newest macOS, High Sierra, most of the changes are under the hood changes, like a new file format, i.e. things most users can’t see and don’t care about. The biggest changes that users can see are in Photos and Safari. Apple’s full shpiel is here: https://www.apple.com/macos/high-sierra/

Age of my Mac

If your Mac is more than 5 years old, don’t upgrade. New software + old hardware = sadness. New software including operating systems are designed for the newest hardware. When you put them on old hardware, they make the computer feel so slow. Your new best friend becomes the spinning color wheel. It may even force you to go and buy more RAM from, oh I don’t know, Mike’s Tech Shop. If your Mac is more than 5 years old, no more software upgrades. Just ride it out until you get a new Mac.

Make sure you have a backup

The most important thing before you do any upgrade is to make sure that you have a good backup before you begin the upgrade. High Sierra requires a new format for your hard drive. It’s invisible, you’ll never notice the difference, but in order to reformat your drive, when you upgrade to High Sierra, it writes to your hard drive a lot. So if you’re hard drive is a little shaky or has some problems you’re not noticing yet, upgrading will bring your hard drive down. We have had many people come in with Macs that no longer work because they tried to upgrade to High Sierra.

Bottom Line

If you have a relatively new Mac and a backup, I’d upgrade. If your Mac is more than 5 years old, don’t upgrade. If you’re somewhere in between, see if you need or want any of these features Apple brags about in High Sierra and decide from there. No matter what, always have a good backup of your data before doing anything.

Posted in MTS Best Practices

MTS Best Practices: Backing up your iPhone

James Sorrenti

Apple’s products have always made it easy to keep your devices up to date and your data safe. There are a few methods of backing up your iPhone that we’ll go over, with a special look at iCloud.

When to Backup

Preparing for a backup when you need it most

It’s that time of year, when Apple parades its expanding line of shiny new iPhones across the stage (this time at the beautiful new Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park). So if you’re looking to jump to your next iPhone or need to service your current iPhone, now is the time to backup!

How to Back Up

There are two ways to backup your iPhone: to iCloud or to iTunes on your computer

iCloud is the easiest way to consistently back up your iPhone if you have enough storage available. As an added bonus, this data is automatically encrypted. To find out when the most recent iPhone backup to iCloud was made, you can check your iPhone. Here’s how:

  1. Tap “Settings” on your iPhone.
  2. Tap your iCloud name at the top.
  3. Tap “iCloud”.
  4. Tap “iCloud Backup” (Your backup should say “On”).
  5. On the bottom of this screen, you will see “Last Backup:” and a date and time.

If this date and time is not very recent, you can force a backup:

  1. Connect your iPhone to its charger and connect to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. On the same screen, right below “Last Backup:”, tap “Backup Now”.
  3. When the backup is complete, the “Last Backup:” should have today’s date and the time the backup completed.

You can also backup your iPhone to iTunes on your computer, but to get the full benefit (and all your activity data) you must tell iTunes to encrypt your iPhone Backups:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer via your Lightning cable.
  2. In iTunes, select your iPhone from the upper-left corner of the window.
  3. On the left, under Settings, select “Summary”.
  4. Select “Encrypt [device] backup” in Backups.
  5. Create (and do not forget!) a password when asked.
  6. It will start backing up. Future backups will be encrypted as well.

Now all your iPhone data is safely backed up, either on iCloud or in iTunes on your computer. If you’re already enrolled in iCloud Photo Library, then the backup may not include your photos, since they are already up in the cloud.

 

How to Restore From Your Backup

So you’ve backed up your iPhone, and now after some event, like opening your fancy new iPhone, you need to restore from your backup. That part is simple and built into the same setup process; just be sure to connect it to your Mac if you used the iTunes method for backup. There are a few things that do not come along with the backup that you will have to set up again:

  1. Device Passcode
  2. Touch ID fingerprints or Face ID faces
  3. Paired Bluetooth devices (e.g., headphones)
  4. Your debit/credit card used with Apple Pay

These things are left out for your security and because some are tied to the hardware of the device, not the software.

So now you can enjoy your new iPhone with the comfort of all your data on it. Some data that is already stored with Apple that would generally be on your device may be syncing back down from the cloud (even if you backed up via iTunes), you will notice a spinning icon as it syncs, and things like your app icons showing back up on your device. Enjoy!

More info:

Differentiating iTunes and iCloud backups:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204518

Encrypted iTunes backups:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205220

Import photos and videos:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201302

What does iCloud backup:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207428

Posted in MTS Best Practices

MTS Best Practices: Backing up your Watch

James Sorrenti

We love Apple devices because they “just work,” but for the times they don’t, having a dependable backup is important; Apple Watch is no different.

When to Backup

Preparing for a backup before you hope you had one.

The most common situations one should force a backup of their Apple Watch is when doing a software update, getting a new Apple Watch or new iPhone, or sending in your Apple Watch or iPhone for service.

How to Back Up

If you regularly backup your iPhone, you are also regularly backing up your Apple Watch. There are two ways to backup your iPhone: iCloud or to iTunes on your computer.

 

iCloud is a wonderful way to backup your iPhone wherever you may be, as long as your account is in good standing, and you have more than enough required storage. You can find out when the most recent iCloud backup was performed from your iPhone:

  1. Tap “Settings” on your iPhone.
  2. Tap your iCloud name at the top.
  3. Tap “iCloud”.
  4. Tap “iCloud Backup”. (Your backup should say “On”.)
  5. On the bottom of this screen, you will see “Last Backup:” and a date and time.

 

If this date and time is not very recent, you can force a backup:

  1. Connect your iPhone to its charger and connect to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Tap “Backup Now”.
  3. When the backup is complete, the “Last Backup:” should have today’s date and the time the backup completed.

 

You can backup your iPhone and Apple Watch onto iTunes on your computer, but to get the full benefit (and all your activity data) you must tell iTunes to encrypt your iPhone Backups:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer via your Lightning cable.
  2. In iTunes, select your iPhone from the upper-left corner of the window.
  3. On the left, under Settings, select “Summary”.
  4. Select “Encrypt [device] backup” in Backups.
  5. Create (and do not forget) a password when asked.
  6. It will start backing up. Future backups will be encrypted as well.

 

If you will be parting with your Apple Watch (getting a new Apple Watch or sending yours away to service) you will want to force a backup and remove your personal data from the watch. Conveniently, these both happen when unpairing your Apple Watch.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Select your Watch from the main screen.
  3. Tap the “i” next to your Watch.
  4. Tap “Unpair Apple Watch”.
  5. Follow onscreen instructions, may include authenticating with your Apple ID password.

 

What Remains

So you’ve backed up your Watch, and now after some event, you need to restore your Watch. That part is simple and built into the same pairing process you did when it was first set up. There are a few things that do not come along with the backup that you will have to set up again:

  1. Device Passcode
  2. Paired Bluetooth devices (e.g., headphones)
  3. Your debit/credit card used with Apple Pay

These things are left out for your security and because some are tied to the hardware of the device, not the software.

 

That’s it! You planned ahead and had your Apple Watch and iPhone backed up in an encrypted format that saved most of your data, and you were able to confidently use that backup to restore to your Apple Watch. Enjoy your watch with your data!

More info:

Apple’s support article on backing up Apple Watch:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204518

Encrypted iTunes backups:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205220

Differentiating iTunes and iCloud backups:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204518

Unpairing Apple Watch:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204568

Setting up Apple Watch:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204505

Posted in MTS Best Practices