Dave, I’m taking my iBook into the shop for some repairs and really want to do a backup beforehand, just in case. Problem is, I don’t have an Apple SuperDrive on my Mac OS X iBook. What’s the best strategy?
This is a classic problem and one reason that I always recommend people pay the little extra money and get a superdrive in their PowerBook or iBook: whether or not you think you’ll be making movies, I guarantee that they’ll come a time when you want to do backups, and being able to backup to a 4GB device sure beats a measly 650MB CDROM disk!
However, you’re not alone in this situation. If you have a second Macintosh that does have a Superdrive, that is, has the ability to burn DVDs, then you’re closer to a solution than you think!
The key is to use Firewire Target Mode, one of the great unheralded capabilities of Mac OS X. Here’s what you do: hook up your iBook to your DVD-burning-capable Mac (let’s assume you have an iMac to make this explanation a bit easier) with a Firewire cable that connects the two.
Now, reboot the laptop unit, holding down the “T” key until the Firewire logo appears on the laptop display. Switch over to the iMac and your laptop should appear as just another hard disk on the desktop.
If you have Roxio’s great Toast application ($70 at Amazon.com, highly recommended), you can just drag and drop the files and directories from the iBook hard disk onto the Toast burn window and when you’re ready, click “Burn” and go get a cup of tea.
If you don’t have Toast, then you can burn a DVD from the Finder too: insert a blank DVD, type in the name you want for the disk when prompted, then drag and drop files and folders into the open disk window. Ready? Choose File -> Burn Disc, choose the burn speed you want (I always err on slower burns based on an unfounded superstition that it’s more reliable), and get a second cup of tea.
Either way, it’s a fast and simple way to create a permanent backup of your laptop data, whether you have a PowerBook or iBook. I use it on my Aluminum PowerBook since I — for reasons that now escape me — also opted not to get a Superdrive. 🙂