Digi-quest | South China Morning Post
  • Sat
  • Apr 18, 2015
  • Updated: 9:10pm


PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 November, 2008, 12:00am

I use an Apple Mac mini, so I back up data to an external disk drive. I want to use a 'hot standby drive' so I can work without a break if my active drive fails. What is the easiest, most economical way to synchronise these drives? Eric Spain, Mui Wo

DQ: The term for what you want to do is 'clone'. There are several ways to do this, but what you want is to do it often enough that no time is lost. This is the classic problem with all forms of backup: if you back everything up on a regular basis, you will slow performance. But if you back up only once a day, you risk crashing in the 23rd hour and losing an entire day's work. You need a balanced setup. Consider using a shareware product known as Carbon Copy Cloner, from Bombich Software. This will make a clone of your machine on another hard disk. It has a 'scheduler' so you can set it to clone at specific times. I suggest doing it at night when you are not working and at one or two other times during the day to be safe. There are other things you could do, but they require more expertise and a mistake can be disastrous. Go to Version Tracker (www.version tracker.com) and type in 'Carbon Copy Cloner'. The latest edition is version 3.1. If you want to be very safe, you could get a second Mac mini and use its internal disk as your clone.

Whenever I download software to the computer, a choice to 'run' or 'save' is given. Is there any significant difference between either option? Name and address supplied

DQ: Yes, there is a difference. To 'save' something to a disk drive means you can access the file again, for example, even when offline. To 'run' software means the application will do what it is supposed to do, but then disappear. Many applications that just run are in fact downloaded to your machine but are then erased after you have run them. This is a common occurrence for videos. Sometimes the site showing you the video does not really want you to save it, but that is usually very easy to get round. Saving something has another advantage in that some files can be viewed or accessed by more than one application. If, for example, you go to a site that has an Adobe PDF file, you may be asked if you want to run or save it. If you select run, your system will always use one particular application to run it. Some people, however, may prefer to use Apple's built in Preview program. If you save it, you have the choice of running or just saving it. The same is true with video files. No matter if you run or save, you should have some kind of system installed that will check software for malicious codes. The internet is not a very safe place anymore.


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