Getting ready for Mavericks: How to backup your Mac and set up OS X 10.9

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Apple’s latest desktop operating system, OS X Mavericks, is available today. In this post, we’ll take you through the steps required to protect your data by backing it up, upgrading the OS, and getting started with the latest version of OS X.

Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need. To backup your data, you’ll need an external hard drive with at least the same amount of storage as your hard drive (or a Time Capsule). You’ll also need to make sure your Mac is capable of running Mavericks (we’ll show you how below), and you’ll want to make sure you have an iTunes account to purchase the update.

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Online backup services: why, how & which?

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Macs make automated backup childishly easy: simply plug in an external hard drive and OS X will ask whether you want to use it as a Time Machine disk. Say yes, and you’ll then get fully-automatic, hourly, versioned backups without doing anything further.

Unplug it to take your MacBook out & about, and it will catch up as soon as you return and plug it back in. Even easier, get a Time Capsule, and those backups take place over wifi, so you don’t even have to connect a drive.

But I’m a belt-and-braces chap. I like multiple backups, and I like one of those backups to be off-site. That way, if the house burns down, or a burglar takes both my Macs and my backup drives, I still have access to my data. Which is where online backup services come into play. Think of them as your backup of last resort.

iCloud, covered in my cloud storage roundup last week, already backs up quite a lot of your data – but nothing like all of it. The services covered here are ones that backup either your entire Mac, or a large proportion of it …

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How to: Live a paperless life with Mac, iPad and iPhone

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Remember those promises we were made, about a paperless world? Everything electronic, everything online? Since the world was failing to deliver, I decided a couple of years ago to do an experiment to find out whether it is possible to live a truly paperless life.

Two years later, the bad news is that you can’t entirely avoid the stuff. There are a few documents the government insists I keep in paper form: my passport and driving licence, for example. There are documents that still arrive in paper form, and documents I have to supply in paper form.

The good news is that you can get very, very close. Here’s how I made it work …  Read more

Apple brings PowerNap to Retina MacBook Pro with firmware update

Just like it did earlier this week for the 2011 and 2012 MacBook Airs, Apple, today, has released a new firmware update for the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display to enable the PowerNap feature. PowerNap allows your Mac to update iCloud files, emails, software updates and more while in sleep mode. Users can get the update via the Mac App Store software update section.

After updating users will see the following option in System Preferences:

Full PowerNap info below: Read more

Updated OS X Mountain Lion Preview 3, 10.7.4, Xcode builds seeded to developers

Apple has released software updates to both of their already acknowledged, unreleased Mac OS X updates: Mountain Lion and Lion 10.7.4. The OS X Mountain Lion is a not a full new Developer Preview, but is simply an update to the already released Developer Preview 3. Changes are currently unknown, but please send in anything you find to tips@9to5mac.com. The update weighs in at 1.45GB on a MacBook Air, but that may vary on other machines. Similiarly, Apple released a few minor developer preview updates during the OS X Lion beta period.

In addition, Apple has seeded a new build of 10.7.4 to developers. The build number is 11E53, and this is notable as this is only a single build shift from last week’s release of 10.7.4 build 11E52. A slow down in build number changes often means an imminent release of whatever OS X update is being tested. Augmenting this possibility is that Apple has added the 10.7.4 change log to the installer application for the beta. Apple says the build has no known issues but asks developers to focus their testing on graphics, iCal, Mail, Printing, and Time Machine.

Apple has also released Developer Preview 4 of Xcode 4.4. The Xcode preview requires either OS X Mountain Lion or OS X Lion.

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Some upset as iCloud wipes out docs from iWork apps

We’re receiving numerous reports from disgruntled users claiming iCloud deleted their documents from iWork apps on their iPhones, iPod touches and iPads after restarting devices. Worse, documents from the Pages, Numbers and Keynote iOS apps are also wiped out from the iCloud servers and cannot be found using the web interface. Sure enough, a bunch of threads on Apple’s Support Communities site (here and here) highlight the issue which affects an unknown portion of users.

A forum user NickFro describes the catastrophic bug:

I can reliably reproduce the error as follows. Create a document in Numbers on an iOS device, or upload to iCloud.com manually. Wait for sync. Restart iOS device. Launch Numbers. The document will be deleted. If you have iCloud.com open, the file will still appear but clicking on it generates a “File not present on server” error. Pretty serious bug, but I can’t tell if it’s in iCloud or the iWork apps. Or both.

He also offers this remedy:

Delete the iCloud account at both the main level of Settings (i.e., by selecting iCloud) AND by deleting the account in the Mail, Calenders, and Contacts section of Settings. Have it remove everything from your device. Once it’s done. Go to the main level, select iCloud, and re-enable your account there and set all settings there for sync. Let the sync happen.

If that didn’t help, try the solutions described here and here.

If you backup your iOS devices with iTunes instead with iCloud, you’re in luck: Just restore to a device backup containing your files and launch Pages, Keynote or Numbers on your device – but don’t enable iCloud in any of those apps. As you know, iTunes creates a device backup at each sync (unless iCloud backup is enabled in iTunes or Settings on your device). This lets you use Time Machine to go back in time and retrieve a specific backup file containing your device’s settings, app data, documents and more. The affected users who enabled iCloud Backup on their device (Settings > iCloud > Storage and Backup) are in a much worse situation as any document created on their device and synced with iCloud gets deleted from both places without a warning, as shown in the below clip.

For some, the problem stems from migrating MobileMe accounts to the iCloud ones so deactivating the “old” MobileMe account on every iOS device, Mac or PC should help.

According to a forum user Felix Leiter:

As long as there is still one machine with a functioning “MobileMe” in the System Preferences, this will erase all files on startup. I found it out when I turned on my wife’s machine, having forgotten that I had created a temporary user account there to store some of my MobileMe information. As soon as I switched to that user account, zap!, all iWork files disappear. Now that all former MobileMe panels have been deactivated, the remote reset is no longer occurring. or at least so it seems.

For others, iWork documents are disappearing upon syncing with a computer, too. This happens after a document has been created on an iOS device or uploaded from the computer. Here’s one possible remedy…
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Western Digital fixes OS X Lion Time Machine incompatibilities with My Book Live series

One of the teething problems in Lion is that the operating system does not work well with some third-party network attached storage (NAS) solutions. As we await OS X 10.7.1 update to fix those problems, manufacturers like Western Digital are taking this matter into their own hands. Western Digital, for example, yesterday released a firmware update for the My Book Live series, making it compatible with OS X Lion and Time Machine.

Western Digital uses Netatalk, an open source AFP fileserver. When Apple made changes to AFP function in Lion, it caused major woes as Netatalk had to be updated. According to release notes (PDF document), the software can be downloaded manually or automatically, by accessing the drive via Bonjour or using the WD QuickView app on your Mac.

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OS X Lion loses compatibility with some network-attached storage drives

CNet has discovered that OS X Lion users lose support for Time Machine backups with third-party NAS hard drives. Time Machine in OS X Lion is now only compatible with Netatalk 2.0. This means that third-party NAS (network attached storage) drives will need a software upgrade from their respective manufactures in order to work with Apple’s next-generation Mac operating system. Users of cable-connected external hard drives will not be affected. Drobo, the company behind popular network attached storage devices has noted the issues on their website:

DroboFS, B800fs and DroboPro FS users running Mac OS X Lion (OS X 10.7) will experience problems with Time Machine.

The next official firmware release for all “FS” products will ensure full compatibility with the released version of Mac OS X Lion,  including use of Time Machine.

Another popular NAS drive maker, Synology, has already released a fix in beta form. Other NAS drive makers will likely follow up with their own OS X Lion compatibility updates.

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Time Capsules accept user 3TB drives?

Apple last week bumped up its Time Capsule wireless backup appliance to 2TB and 3TB models, priced the same $299 and $499, respectively. In addition, Apple appears to be now using consumer public drives from Western Digital (bumped up from Hitachi Deskstar drives). That, plus the $499 price point puts the new 3TB Time Capsule pretty much out of reach on price-conscious buyers. In fact, you’re better off, as we explained, hooking up an external USB drive to your 1TB Time Capsule.

But if you hate the clutter and yearn for a sealed, elegant solution with only one plug, you needn’t pony up $200 extra for a 3TB Time Capsule: It would seem that the wireless gizmo accepts 3TB internal drives, if properly partitioned. According to a HardMac reader:

I personally installed a 3 TB WD Caviar Green 3To (by chance!), when it came out 5 months ago, in a 1 TB Time Capsule that I bought around that time as well. I formatted it with Airport Utility to have the 3 partitions that are necessary for Time Machine and it was immediately recognized as a 3 TB disk. I’ve been using it ever since without any problem.

One caveat…

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Why buying the 3TB Time Capsule is crazypants

We know Apple charges a premium on storage.  That’s why many people buy RAM and HDD/SSD storage for their Macs from third party retailers, saving lots of money.   With iOS devices, however, Apple is able to keep out third party upgrades because the devices are sealed shut.  That’s why a device with 16GB costs $100 less than a device with 32GB of RAM, which in turn costs $100 less than a device with 64GB of flash storage.  Apple buys Flash for less than anyone else on earth but mere mortals can get storage for a fraction of what Apple charges.

So here’s this Time Capsule thing.

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 $299 for 2TB.  To upgrade to a 3TB drive, you’ll need $200 more.  How absurd is this?  The difference between a 2TB and 3TB drive is like $40.

Not only is this beyond the call of the “Mac Tax” but it is crazy easy to get around.  For an extra $150 (Still $50 less than the 3TB model) you can buy a perfectly good 3TB USB Seagate or Western Digital hard drive from Amazon.  Then just plug it into the back of the 2TB model and you have 5TB of addressable space.    You’ve been able to use USB drives since 2008 as Time Machine backups or Network Attached Storage.

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Of course it is nice to have the drive in a convenient little package with only one plug, but for $200, only getting an extra TB seems a little absurd.   Read more