The following is an article submitted by our guest blogger, Dan Wells. Here’s some info about Dan, in his own words:

I just thought I’d introduce myself, as this is my first post to Barkings. I’m an ecologist, landscape photographer and Mac fanatic, living in Starksboro, teaching part-time at UVM, doing a bit of Mac consulting on the side and taking as many pictures as I can manage. I’ve just started putting my photographs in galleries (I’m in Art On Main in Bristol, and always looking for more venues). I do all my own printing – off my Macs, of course – and have finally more or less figured out Photoshop.

My first Macintosh was an original Mac 128k (I was 12 years old), and I’ve rarely looked back since. I’ve owned or used Macs of just about every generation – a lot of great ones (the Mac IIci of the late 80s and early 90s was about 7 years ahead of its time), and even a few flops. My present stable of Macs includes a MacBook Pro that I use for e-mail, web stuff, writing and other general use, and a Mac Pro that contains my library of 20,000 photos, and that I use largely for photographic work.

Most of what I’ll be contributing is going to be about Leopard, which looks like a real innovation from my first week of use – Time Machine is incredible – or photographic topics. I’ll keep updating my Leopard experiences, and may chime in with reviews of photography-related software or hardware.

To comment on the following blog post, email Dan at danwellsphoto@gmail.com.

Leopard is an incredibly smooth update – I stuck the DVD in my Mac Pro and basically walked away until it was done. It took an hour and a half, but needed no interaction except at the very beginning and the very end. Apple has done an incredible job here – compare this to Windows XP’s similarly long installation procedure that you have to interact with every few minutes – just to get XP to install over ITSELF when it (inevitably) crashes – never mind if you’re upgrading from an older version.

After installing Leopard, I played around for a few minutes and then set Time Machine to the task of backing the big machine up. I connected a fresh 1 terabyte drive, and it immediately asked me if I wanted to use the drive for Time Machine. Once I said yes and decided which of my various external drives I wanted Time Machine to back up (it not only backs up the internal drives, but can also back up any other hard drives connected to the computer – subject to the obvious limit that the backup drive has to be able to accommodate the total amount of data on all the drives it’s backing up), it ran the 500 gigabyte backup overnight. It now automatically updates its backup every hour, changing only what’s been changed in that time. It really IS seamless – it took me far longer to write this description of what it did than it took me to set it up.

The only limitation I can see is that it needs a huge drive for the backup if it’s going to be backing up large or multiple drives. It needs somewhat MORE space on the backup drive than the total of everything it’s backing up, because it keeps multiple copies of any file that’s been changed, allowing you to go back to last week’s version of a Word document, for example. Fortunately, most large files are rarely changed, and most frequently changed files are small. Most people don’t change image, music or movie files very often (you’ll add more, but rarely change the content of a file you already have), and those are what take up a lot of space.

The exception to this is heavy Photoshop users – Photoshop DOES edit original image files (newer photo editors like Aperture and Lightroom actually edit small files that accompany the image file, at least for most operations), so a heavy Photoshop user can really pile up the multiple versions in Time Machine. A lot of audio software works like Photoshop and actually generates multiple versions of large files, while Final Cut and most other video editing software change small files like Aperture and Lightroom do.

For most people, a Time Machine drive one size larger than their Mac’s hard drive will be fine (if your Mac has a 250 gigabyte hard drive, buy a 320 for Time Machine – that’s only a $140 drive)… If you use Photoshop or audio editing software heavily, look at a drive one size larger than that (a 500 gigabyte drive if your Mac has a 250) If you have several hard drives full of photos and videos, you need a Time Machine drive somewhat larger than the SUM of all the drives you want to back up – professional photographers and videographers will want to look at the big LaCie drives that range from 1 to 4 terabytes, or even at the XServe RAID, which can reach 7 terabytes or more. Most users will never need anything more than a $200 500 gigabyte drive for Time Machine, and that’s money well spent for the first backup system that really works.

There is a slightly confusing interaction between Time Machine and certain automatic update features. Since Time Machine makes a direct copy of everything on the computer (applications as well as documents), updaters may become confused by Time Machine’s extra copy. When I ran Microsoft’s AutoUpdate on the Mac Pro with Time Machine hooked up, it asked if I wanted to update the copy of Microsoft Office on my primary hard drive or the copy Time Machine had. I simply picked the copy on my primary drive, and AutoUpdate worked fine.

My Time Machine drive is NAMED TimeMachine, which makes it easy to tell which copy of Office is the right one – I recommend naming a Time Machine drive something obvious like this, so you can easily tell which copy is the right one when an updater asks. Apple’s Software Update and the Adobe Updater are smart enough to avoid this – they seem to be able to tell what’s a Time Machine file and not try to update it, while Microsoft’s AutoUpdate can’t tell. I expect this to be fixed in the new version of Office in January, while it’s a minor annoyance for the time being.

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