I have friend shopping around trying to repair his laptop that crashed. He needs a new hard drive and needs to recover important data from it. Best Buy quoted him $300-$3000 to recover his data. Why even GIVE an estimate? Jane's Mac mini recently also crapped out and I'm having her 80gig HD replaced and data restored for $200.
My friend asked me if I back up my data. I told him "sort of". I HAVE backed up my important documents, photos, and music to an external hard drive but it's been over a year since I've refreshed it. I do have some redundancy in that some of my files are copied onto my other computers. I also have a copy on my website. But still, I'm exposed and need to take my backup process more seriously.
Coincidently, I read this recent post at Phanfare.com. It advocates backing up your important data to a location somewhere on the Internet. But I've read horror stories about that solution as well when a customer lost all their photos from a service. Personally, I would advocate backing things up on two different external sources at home AND online somewhere. I plan to use an external hard drive and a second computer for redundency for important files. I'll keep some files on my website. Photos, Video and Music presents a bigger challenge because they take up so much room and the process of uploading is very time consuming. I'll use a combination of DVDs and external HD for those.
To recover data from a bad HD, here is some advice:
Backing up data from your Mac
Mail – mail data is stored in the foldersw ~/Library/Mail/POP-….
AddressBook – select all your contacts and select File…Export vCard. This will create a file a .vcf file. You can then download and run this A to G program to convert the file to a comma seperated file (.csv). This file can then be imported into Gmail. To restore, you can export back to a file that AddressBook can import.