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I have a friend with an iBook G4 who is looking for a cheap backup option for her Mac running OS 10.4. Money is tight, so getting 10.5 is not really an option (in addition to buy a backup drive etc, yes money is really that tight).

What suggestions can you offer for backups that's better than trying to remember to burn a CD once a month?

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The standard "go to" backup program for the Mac before Time Machine was/is Super Duper. You can use it for free and it will make a full bootable clone of your system every time you run it. If you decide to pay for it, the program will then do incremental backups (much quicker to do a backup) on a schedule which will give you a bootable up-to-date clone of your computer sitting there in case something goes wrong you can get back to what you were doing (and hopefully ordering a new hard drive).

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Hopefully your friend can afford the $27.95 for Super Duper. – Thilo Aug 16 '10 at 5:51
You don't have to pay for it, although the pay features are nice, but it is functional as a weekly backup solution. Also if you just need "important stuff" definitely see the dropbox answer. – Ptier Aug 16 '10 at 16:19

In addition to the full backup, you can put your most important files (potentially encrypted) on something like Dropbox. Makes it an offsite backup, and accessible from other computers as well. 2 GB of Dropbox are free.

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For free incremental backup on a Mac - or almost any *nix box for that matter - rsync is hard to beat. It should already be installed, and at its simplest will do an incremental copy - set up Launchd or cron to run it automatically at a convenient interval and it'll copy only what has changed over to the backup disk (or a remote machine over the network for that matter).

With a bit of prodding it can even be set up to emulate Time Machine pretty closely, with the exception of the fancy restore interface.

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Use snapshot. Free and functions effectivelly like TimeMachine. There's a writeup on how to get it going on older Macs somewhere on the Web.

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Assuming you can get a backup drive or separate volume, try Crashplan. It's free if you're backing up to an external HD.

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