Those of you who were Windows users in the early to mid-1990’s might remember the glory of “Undelete” a Microsoft program built right into Windows that gave you a good shot at recovering a file that was deleted. There is no such brilliance baked into Windows or Mac today, but there are ways to protect yourself.
1) A file that you have no backup copies of gets deleted. You placed it in the Trash. It’s gone from your folder, Desktop or wherever you’ve saved it.
Data Rescue by Prosoft Engineering. So long as it hasn’t been more than a week and / or you have restarted your Mac several times, you have at least a shot at recovery. Data Rescue is a $99 program, so it only seems like a wise investment for those of you creating / working with important files on a frequent basis. Link, http://www.prosofteng.com/products/data_rescue.php
2) An external backup hard drive. This is recommended for ALL of you. I can’t emphasize this tool enough. Since late 2007, all Macs have a built in program called Time Machine. Time Machine is the simplest backup software on the planet. There are few options. Simply put Time Machine backs up the contents of your Mac every hour that the external hard drive is plugged into your Mac and powered on. Restoration of the entire computer, folders or individual files is simple.
If you are backing up just one Mac, one of these drives from OTHER WORLD COMPUTING would be fine. http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firewire/1394/USB/EliteAL/eSATA_FW800_FW400_USB
If you are backing up multiple Macs in your household, including a “mixed” family of Windows and Mac systems — there is one product beyond compare, the Apple Time Capsule. This device performs Time Machine backups every hour, wirelessly, on all of your computers. The Time Capsule serves as a Wireless Router and integrated backup hard drive. It costs cost $299 — but when you consider what you are getting — the math just makes sense. $100 to $150 for one external hard drive or $300 for 2 + computers. Often Apple sells “refurbished” Time Capsule units for $229 in their deals section at store.apple.com . The main Time Capsule info page can be found at http://www.apple.com/timecapsule/
3) Backing up a small # of files. Ok, you may not be ready to buy a backup hard drive today, but don’t wait too long. Never the less, please sign up for a free Dropbox.com account today, even if you already have a backup drive. Dropbox.com was a service created by MIT graduates a few years back. They do have paid options starting a $10 a month if you need lots of backup space, however they will give everyone a 2 Gigabyte backup account for free. It’s not a scam, but truly F-R-E-E. 2 GB will allow you to save hundreds if not thousands of documents. After signing up and downloading a small file, a new folder will be placed in your Home folder (or wherever you choose). You can then start saving files or moving files to that folder. A copy will stay locally on your Mac, but will also be saved online to your Dropbox.com account. Dropbox saves all file changes for 30 days which means you can go back and retrieve older versions of files should you mess up the version you have saved on your Mac right now. Get going with this http://www.dropbox.com
4) Finally — this tip is for those of you who type a lot of Word or word processing documents. Hopefully you are following or will follow some of the previous tips, but that may not help you with one thing. What if you delete the contents of your document? Highlighting a large section of your Word document and then pressing spacebar or delete by accident will put you at a major loss. I regularly get panic mode phone calls from clients saying — HELP I’VE DELETED MY DOCUMENT. What you have really done is delete the contents of your document. The actual file is still there, but it may be empty. Uh-oh!
If you recognize the problem RIGHT AFTER you did it (like seconds after), try pressing COMMAND AND Z. This will undo your last action.
The new Mac OS 10.7 (aka Lion) supports a feature called Versions which progressively saves your document as you are working on it. However, you have to create / edit your documents in a program that supports Versions. Currently Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac as new and great as it is, does not support versions. However, Neo Office (an Office substitute that I have talked with you about for a long time) and Pages by Apple both support versions. Both Neo Office and Pages, can do 95% of what Word can do. And I think either temporarily or permanently, nearly all of you WILL NOT be at a loss by using either program. Neo Office is $10 — http://www.neooffice.org and Pages is $20 http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pages/id409201541?mt=12
Which is better? Neo Office can also open Excel and PowerPoint Files and perhaps looks more like the Microsoft Office that you remember. Pages (and sister programs Numbers and Keynote) are made by Apple so there is probably some free support if you run into trouble. Regular Microsoft Office users can only hope that they add Versions very soon.