I always back my computer up before traveling, especially if I’ll be flying. There are simply too many things that could go wrong on the road. My worries range from the fear of dropping my beloved sliver of aluminum, to being robbed, to having my machine inspected for weeks and weeks by the TSA.
Previously, I always tediously identified important files, then “dragged-and-dropped” them to an external drive, which I would leave at home. Occasionally I’d make a bootable backup, but these often took a very long time to be generated.
I simply plugged my external drive in, launched System Preferences and selected “Choose Backup Disk” from the Time Machine settings and clicked the desired external drive, my LaCie 500GB Quadra, which is connected via FireWire 800. I went out to do some shopping, then put some dinner on the stove (er, got takeout) and came back to a fully backed up MacBook Pro. Wunderbar!
Every night since I’ve returned, I simply plop my machine on my desk, turn it on, connect my LaCie and my backup is automatically updated in minutes. It functions flawlessly (as I always expect with my Mac) and I’m hooked!