Apple’s other backup software

Update: For ideas on how to use Backup without MobileMe, look here.

Backup is the backup software from Apple that’s available to MobileMe customers. It’s been around a lot longer than Time Machine. While not nearly as robust, it’s a useful piece of software. I still use it to back up smaller directories to an external disk, but it can also be used to back up to your iDisk, CDs and DVDs.

Scheduling is included as well as support for custom “Backup Plans.” These will target specific directories, schedules, destinations and more.

Since there’s no such thing as “too much backup,” here’s a brief look at Backup.

The first time it’s launched, Backup will suggest five Backup Plans: Home Folder, Personal Data & Settings, iLife, iTunes Library and Custom. The Home Folder plan will create a backup of your entire home folder to a disk weekly and to removable media, like a CD or DVD, monthly.

Personal Data & Settings is one I use. It grabs your Address Book contacts, Stickes, iCal calendars, Safari settings (bookmarks, preferences, history, etc.) and Keychain settings to your iDisk daily. I’ve found that, thanks to Dropbox, I wasn’t using my iDisk for much. The result was 18 GB free on my iDisk. [1. To allocate storage to your iDisk, log into me.com from a browser. Next, click Account and then Storage Settings. Finally, use the drop-down menu next to Mail to assign as much of your 20 GB of storage as you want to your mailbox. The rest is assigned to iDisk storage.] It’s a shame to waste that space, so now it holds off-site backups of that information.

The iLife Backup Plan grabs your iPhoto library, iMovie projects, GarageBand Projects and iDVD projects. This is potentially a massive backup, so have plenty of DVDs ready.[2. You can send those backups to an external disk instead of CDs/DVDs.] It backs up weekly.

iTunes Library will backup the contents of your iTunes folder to CD or DVD monthly.

Those don’t float your boat? Then make your own. Click Custom for a nice number of options. For instance, Backup ships with a number of custom Backup Plans, called “Quick Picks,” like backup Filemaker files, Numbers, Pages Keynote files or Microsoft Excel documents. Alternatively, you can specify certain files or folders and even the results of a Spotlight search.

Don’t feel like customizing? You’ll find some really nice ready-made Quick Picks from the likes of Scott Boms and MacUpdate.

MobileMe customers who are looking for a little extra piece of mind or even have under-used iDisk storage space should consider Apple’s Backup 3. At the very least, it’s an off-site supplement to Time Machine. Because it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Streaming music from iDisk [Updated]

Thanks to Michael Robertson, the tech web latched onto the fact that the iDisk iPhone app lets users stream MP3 and AAC files stored on their iDisks in the background. I pointed this out two months ago. Today, David Chartier explained why this isn’t the first hint of a future cloud-based music service:

“For one thing, you have to manually move or copy music files into your iDisk (in Macworld’s brief testing, it doesn’t matter where you store the files in your iDisk). When a song finishes, you have to manually open the app and select another song to play, as there is no playlist support or even continuous play functionality for multiple tracks in a single folder. The previous and next track buttons in the background playback controls don’t work either; they simply end the currently playing song.”

I’m anxious for a cloud-based version of iTunes, too. Unfortunately, this isn’t it.

Update: I originally linked to the wrong TUAW article. That has been fixed. Thanks, @slim.