PostPoints tip: Time Machine works with flash drives too
Apple's Time Machine backup software is one of Mac OS X's biggest selling points: It's automatic, simple and even somewhat fun, an adjective not normally applied to this type of program. But Apple's own descriptions of Time Machine can understate its utility. Although the company consistently says Time Machine requires a second, internal or external hard drive--see, for example, its page advertising Time Machine, a tech-support intro and another tech-support note--you can use a cheap USB flash drive instead.
True, flash drives probably can't fit all of your data. But one can certainly accommodate such critical information as your e-mail, your calendar and address book and your work documents. And if a lack of funds or general indecision has held up your purchase of an external hard drive, what else are you going to do? Grab the biggest-capacity USB flash drive you have handy, plug it into your Mac and let Time Machine use it while you figure out that purchase.
(About the "PostPoints tip" title: Since July, I've been archiving each tip-of-the-week e-mail we send to PostPoints members under this blog's "Tips" category. Today's item went out on Dec. 21; since writing it, I've realized that I should have linked to my 2007 and 2009 Help File items on picking an external hard drive.)
Meanwhile, in case you missed it:
* Sunday's column was the 2010 version of my "how to set up your new PC or Mac" column. An accompanying blog post notes what's changed between this and five earlier versions, while a video has me demonstrating some of these tips.
* Help File relates one way to wipe your data from a Windows or Mac OS X machine you're planning to retire, sell, donate, recycle or otherwise dispose of.
Finally: My understanding is that some of you may have received computing- or electronics-related gifts in the past few days. If so, why not use the comments to talk about your present? Did you have to break out the manual? Have you had to call tech support yet? Have you had to buy a cable/charger/battery for it? Or has the gadget in question, you know, worked as advertised?
| December 27, 2010; 7:15 AM ET
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