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Archive for the ‘Data Protection’ tag

Protect Your Holiday Photos With These Simple Steps

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While you are enjoying AND taking pictures of your family during this holiday time, make sure you protect those precious memories.

One of the best tips is NEVER let iPhoto erase your photos off your camera or iPhone.

Here’s what you do.

1. Hook up your camera or iPhone.
2. Let iPhoto import your photos.
3. When iPhone is done, it will ask if it can erase your photos off your device. Say NO!
4. Quit iPhoto.
5. Run Time Machine to back up all of your new data.
6. Once your backup has completed, then it’s safe to erase the info off your iPhone or camera.

The trick here is to always have you data in two places as once. Most accidental data loss happens when folks are moving data around. Let your back up run automatically, and let iPhoto do its import automatically. You can also “burn” your photos right to a CD or DVD right from iPhoto. CD’s only cost about .15 cents, so this is a cost effective way to double your back up. These CD’s or DVD’s can be given to family member and/or stored off site, so that in addition to your Time Machine back up, you can also have an off-site back up as well.

Also, if you get a new Mac (or you’re giving yourself one) for the holidays, and you have plans to pass your old Mac off to someone else, pay attention to this!

During the holidays or in the New Year, people start moving their data around, so they can get rid of, sell, or give away an old Mac. DO NOT format your old hard drive UNTIL you have fully tested and check to ensure all of your data has made it to the new computer.

Don’t format your old computer until you’ve run a backup on your new computer, and have your data in TWO places. We also suggest waiting a few days, and then format your old Mac in preparation to give it away. Every year we see folks with plans like this, destroy their data too soon, and then realize too late that something terrible happened during the transfer and related re-gift.

You can read more about this topic at this previous MacMedics Blog post.

Questions? Just call us! 1-866-MAC-MEDICS

Written by Dana Stibolt

December 23rd, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Give The Gift Of Data Security & Backup For Only $89

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Still looking for stocking stuffers for the holidays? Here’s an idea: Give the gift of data backup and security for only $89.

This little 320 GB portable USB hard drive comes with a 7-Year warranty.

Don’t forget that new or old hard drives can fail at any time, so it’s super important to keep your data backed up. A mistake that is often made, is that a new MacBook or iMac user will assume that since their new Apple computer is in fact new, they have 6 months of safe computing, where they don’t have to worry about their data. In fact, you have 30 day burn-in period where you are at a slightly higher chance of a hard drive failure in a new computer. This is a myth, and totally unsafe! In fact if you’re an Apple laptop user, you have the increased risk of theft, loss, and accidental damage.

If you’re giving the gift of a Macintosh computer this season, do your new Mac owner a favor and include a back-up drive.

As soon as you start generating data that you care about, you need to back it up! Need help getting started? We can help get your set up over the phone, on-site, in-lab, or via remote desktop support. See our website for more info on this topic.

Apple Releases Snow Leopard 10.6.5 – Back Your Hard Drive Up Before You Install

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Apple has released Snow Leopard 10.6.5. This is a MAJOR software update and it should installed ONLY if you have a TESTED and WORKING back up system, and that you’re not in the middle of a production deadline.

Our advice for MacMedics clients regarding this update, is NOT to install it right away. We recommend waiting at least a few days before installing it. Also, if you have multiple Macintosh computers that need this update, just install it on one computer to start. If you’re a MacMedics client that we see on a regular basis, we will install this update for you when it has been fully vetted.

URGENT: Every time Apple releases a software update, we see several dead hard drives the next day. Please read our UPDATE WARNINGs page which can be found here, before you install this software update.

The 10.6.5 Update is recommended for all users running Mac OS X Snow Leopard and includes general operating system fixes that enhance the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac, including fixes that:

Improve reliability with Microsoft Exchange servers

Address performance of some image-processing operations in iPhoto and Aperture

Address stability and performance of graphics applications and games
Resolve a delay between print jobs

Address a printing issue for some HP printers connected to an AirPort Extreme

Resolve an issue when dragging contacts from Address Book to iCal

Address an issue where dragging an item from a stack causes the Dock to not automatically hide

Resolve an issue with Wikipedia information not displaying correctly in Dictionary

Improve performance of MainStage on certain Mac systems

Resolve spacing issues with OpenType fonts

Improve reliability with some Bluetooth braille displays

Resolve a VoiceOver issue when browsing some web sites with Safari 5

For detailed information on this update, please visit this website:

For information on the security content of this update, please visit:

MacMedics Presents How To Protect Your Data To The Professional Photographers Of Greater Annapolis

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PPOGA - Professional Photographers of Greater Annapolis

Dana Stibolt will be the guest speaker at next meeting of PPOGA – Professional Photographers of Greater Annapolis. He will be talking about backing up your important data redundantly and automatically.

The meeting will be held at the Annapolis DoubleTree Hotel (near the Annapolis Mall) Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 6:30pm. Free gifts from MacMedics for all who attend. $12 entry includes food, beverage, and door prize entry!

See the Professional Photographers of Greater Annapolis’ Facebook page here.

Why using a Drobo for Apple’s Time Machine might not be a good idea

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Why using a Drobo for Apple’s Time Machine might not be a good idea

Update 12/27/10 It is possible to partition your Drobo, so that you have a segmented amount of storage space for Time Machine to run in. In the case listed below, the client used the Drobo as a Time Machine drive, so over time the volume filled up with more and more data, and the client expanded the Drobo at least once in order to keep up with the growing Time Machine retrospective back up. It is possible and recommended that if you want to use a Drobo for TIme Machine you set it up with a partition just for TIme to run on. See this link from Drobo’s support page with more info on how to do this. It is important to note that, if you re-partition your Drobo, you will need to back up your data as re-partitioning your Drobo WILL ERASE all of the data stored there.

We’re fans of the Drobo data storage device here at MacMedics. They are a fantastic, low-cost solution for storing large amounts of data with relative safety.

In a repair that I’m working on that involved a Drobo 4 bay device, I’ve come up with some thoughts on why a Drobo device is not a good idea for use as a Time Machine volume.

1. We already know that Time Machine really puts a strain on the directory of a hard drive. We commonly see TIme Machine volumes with severely corrupted directories. When you combine the action of Time Machine along with the process that Drobo uses to protect and preserve your data, I think that intensifies the strain on the directory of the RAID.

2. Time Machine is a workout for any hard drive when it’s running all the time, and we have seen a few hard drives that have succumbed to the strain of that duty. In the case of the Drobo combined with Time Machine, the drives just go non stop all the time at a fairly intense level. When you consider that all that hard drive activity could prematurely shorten the life of a hard drive in your Drobo. Don’t forget that increased hard drive activity means more heat which can shorten the life of a hard drive.

When you consider both of these factors and add in the fact that having an ever expanding Time Machine volume, Drobo is not the best choice as a Time Machine volume.

Time Machine is the most powerful feature of Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion, and Mountain Lion. Having said that, having a Time Machine backup is highly recommended, but in almost all cases we DO recommend a “Double Backup”. In most cases this can be accomplished with one hard drive. If you have a large hard drive, you can create a partition that’s slightly larger than your hard drive, and then use the remaining amount of space for Time Machine. The trick here, is to clone you hard drive to the small partition and allow Time Machine to use the large one. This way if you ever have a failure, you can boot off your “clone” and then have access to you Time Machine data from as recently as one hour ago.

See my post about Time Machine and for a link to a program that will allow you to adjust it’s frequency here.

See my post about doubling your Time Machine back up here.

Written by Dana Stibolt

December 17th, 2009 at 11:57 am

Congratulations your hard drive made it through another Friday the 13th!

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Time Machine is an excellent way to back up your files! Its only cool and powerful if you actually turn it on and USE it!

Time Machine is an excellent way to back up your files! It's only cool and powerful if you actually turn it on and USE it!

Friday the 13th can be an un-lucky day, but you CAN take control of your back up and ensure your data is always protected by following a few simple steps.

The important thing is to PLAN AHEAD. Your back up is not complete if it’s not:

1. Automatic (Use Time Machine and this point is covered)

2. Redundant (Double your back up with a clone of your data or use an off-site back up and this point is covered)

3. Off-Site (Take your double back up off-site or get Mozy or CrashPlan Pro and this point is covered)

If you’d like to sign up for Mozy or CrashPlan Pro, we have links to those services, including the hard to find free 2GB Mozy account. We also strongly recommend LoJack for Laptops. (Use code “BESTOFMONTH″ for 10% off paid service)

We’ve been over this before, but here on the front lines of data loss we see this just about everyday. It’s senseless the number of pictures, school papers, financial and business documents, and music get lost when a back up system can be had for as little as $129!

You need to make your back up system automatic, or use a program like Time Machine. That’s the first step. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY can keep up with a “manual” drag-n-drop back up! To boot, quite a bit of the data loss we see here at MacMedics happens when someone copies over important data during a drag-n-drop Finder copy. Sometime, folks think they have the data copied, but something goes wrong and they just end up with an alias, then they go and delete the original data, because they think they just copied it.

The second step is to regularly test that back up to ensure your files are there and you’re able to grab them anytime you need them. There’s no such thing as a “Set-It-And-Forget-It” back up system. You can check you Time Machine back up by holding “OPTION” when you click on Time Machine menu icon. This will “VERIFY” your current back up to ensure it does not have a problem that is detectable by the built-in check.

Also, don’t forget that Time Machine hard drives, AND Time Capsules live a hot and hard life. The Time Machine process is tough on hard drives, so after three or four years of loyal service, you should retire your Time Machine hard drive and turn that drive into a backup of your backup.

If you need help getting your back up set up, our advice is free, and we have external portable and desktop hard drives in stock!

If you have data you care about it needs to be backed up! Just because your computer is new or you just replaced the hard drive offers you very little protection. Hard drives can die at any time, and in fact there’s an increased risk of that occurring in the first 30 to 60 days of a hard drives’ life.

See our website for more info on “retiring” older drives and ensuring you have a safe back up.

The pictures we take are the most cherished and valuable items on most computers. Make sure the pictures you take this year make it onto your back up system as soon as you import them onto your computer. Also, as an added tip: Don’t have iPhoto delete your pictures off you camera. Leave them in two places, in iPhoto AND on your camera until you have them BACKED UP. You ALWAYS want to have your valuable data in TWO PLACES at all times.

Be sure to read the Blog clipping we link to titles “The 9 things we wish we did before our house burned down” You can find that here.

New or old – Hard drives can die at anytime!

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New or old, hard drives can die at any time. This hard drive from a 2 month old MacBook Pro Unibody has failed without warning resulting in data loss. Always have a back up, and be sure that back up is tested and working before you start generating new data. See our website at

Written by Dana Stibolt

February 23rd, 2009 at 5:06 pm

New Year’s Resolutions: Back up your data (and test it)

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Last year at this time we announced our campaign to “retire” older hard drives and to also ensure that data was backed up. We created an informative website to explain our thoughts on the matter. Our site has had thousands of hits over the last year, but sadly we still see cases daily where clients have lost data.

Hard drives can fail at anytime and at any age, so it’s very important to always have a back up of your data. Our message must be getting out there, because we see more and more clients who are in the planning stage of a back up system lose their data the day before they hooked the the new back up system up. As ironic as that sounds, it happens all the time. People just put it off too long and the risk catches up with them. With larger and larger hard drives available as the Apple factory option that risk only increases with the amount of data stored in one place. An automatic and reliable back up system should be put in place BEFORE you start generating data.

Another situation we commonly see is where a back up has been made and the primary drive then gets erased (on purpose) in preparation for a move to a new computer or some other reason. It’s very, very important that when you make a back up with plan to only have that data on solely the back up drive for a time, that you test to ensure your data is really there. If the backup is bootable, then try booting off it to test. If it’s a Time Machine back up, then do some sample restores from a couple of different days. The rule here is if you’re going to be moving your data, it’s very important that to check to see that data is valid before you erase your old data.

The new year is great time to start fresh with a good back up system. Do yourself a favor and make a resolution to get a back up system installed as soon as possible. There are lots of options, and many are very inexpensive. Ask your MacMedics Engineer or Service Coordinator for help. We’ll be happy to help install a system that’s right for you.

P.S. If you have a MacBook check to see if you have a Seagate 7.01 firmware drive. These drives are prone to an unusual fatal hard drive failure. If you have this drive installed, MacMedics recommends that your proactively replace it. See our previous blog post on the topic here.

Also see our post about stripped or spanned hard drive RAIDs such as the LaCie Big Disk. This is another case where having all your eggs in one basket can be very risky. We’ve learned over time that many of clients don’t even know they are using such a system. Super dangerous for your data. If you have one, just get in touch with us ASAP!

Written by Dana Stibolt

January 4th, 2009 at 11:16 am

Back up and secure your data! (Then test your back up system!)

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One of the things we hate the most is to see folks who come into our shop with a bad data loss situation. We expect to see people with older Mac computers in situations where the data is lost, and no back up was in place. That happens pretty frequently, and sadly it often happens WITH a back up that was either NOT in use, or UNTESTED. As computers age so do their hard drives, so think about replacing your drive with a larger, faster, and more robust drive BEFORE your drive starts to fail. Just because your computer is newer does not mean that your hard drive is without risk, in fact you might be in even greater risk in the first 30 days of use with a new comouter. See our website: for more info

Now that Leopard has been out for almost a year, we’re starting to see customers who never set up Time Machine, set it up once then turned it off, or some how messed up the configuration. With Leopard and Time Machine it makes it really easy to have an affordable and reliable back up that really works in place. While in most instances it’s a case of set it and forget it, it is wise to test your Time Machine and/or Time Capsule back up. Pick a file at random from a few weeks ago and do a test recovery. See what happens and make sure you understand how to pull old files off of your back up system.

It’s also not a bad idea to make sure you know how to recover from a Time Machine back up and a total hard drive failure. We suggest testing your back up (Time Machine or any other back up program you may be using) and doing a test restore of your entire back up. It’s best to do this on a separate machine, and not tamper with your working machine, but you should know how to get back on your feet again if the unthinkable happens. If you need help getting a backup and disaster plan in place, call your local MacMedics office.

This week a nice lady with a 1 year old infant came to see us after being referred from the Apple Store in Annapolis (Thanks to the Apple Store for thinking of MacMedics again!!). She was in a really bad situation, as her drive that was installed in pretty new machine was making a terrible noise. We tried to recover her data, but the hard drive was too badly damaged to get a copy of the data. All she wanted was the pictures of her baby. Totally understandable. We’ll be sending her drive off for a clean room recovery evaluation.

Losing pictures is one of the things that hurts the most. One easy way to ensure you always have a back up is to “burn” a CD of your new pictures as soon as they are imported into iPhoto. As soon as they are imported, they are all right there, just highlight them and burn them to a CD right then and there. CD media is so cheap, there’s no reason not to use a CD and just make a back up on the spot. The mistake that people make, is that they will plan to make a back up later, or wait until they have enough data to fill a CD or DVD. Even if you DO have a hard drive based back up, pictures are too precious not to double protect. There is no reason NOT to have more than one back up. Use the extra CD or DVD you burn as a way to start an off-site back up, give them to your parents or to a neighbor for safe keeping. Trust me, it sounds over protective, but right here in Severna Park a close friend of MacMedics had his house burn to the ground, and he lost everything including all of his hard drives, and all of his pictures. We went though the pictures we took of our kids playing soccer together, and looked for any instance where we had pictures of his daughter playing with ours.

Also, this week we had 3 back-to-back cases of the Seagate 7.01 firmware failure. This type of drive failure make data recovery impossible. If you have this drive take steps to replace it now! It appears that as these drives age, they are even more prone to the failure they are famous for. MacMedics STRONGLY recommends proactive replacement of this drive immediately! If you have questions on the best way to do this, call or e-mail your local MacMedics office as soon as possible. A new drive can be as little as $119 and most come with a 5-year warranty.

If you need a system for designed for backing up your data (or help recovering lost data) get in touch with your local MacMedics office or give us a call at 1-866-MAC-MEDICS

Written by Dana Stibolt

September 20th, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Get your hard drive erased & recycled for free

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The MacMedics office in Millersville, MD will securely erase your hard drive and responsibly recycle it for you free of charge. Drop off your hard drive, sign a data destruction waiver, and we’ll take of the rest. If you drop off your hard drive, iPod, or older Macintosh computer for data destruction, we’ll give you a coupon for $10 off an iPod repair, or $25 off the price of a new Mac.

James Wiebe of Wiebetech recently gave us Drive eRazer that we are using to perform this service. This little device will erase drives to Department of Defense security standards.

Drive eRazer

Drive eRazer

Written by Dana Stibolt

August 31st, 2008 at 12:25 pm