Mac Fallout Shelter

Safe and Secure File Backup and Off Site Storage

- 2006.03.28 - Tip Jar

This week we'll address some of the security problems when you're using a portable Mac and want to protect your documents.

As you already know, always back up (see Quick and Easy Disk Maintenance and Backup for Your Mac).

Let's say you're using someone else's computer or just want more peace of mind when using your own 'Book. That's where this article comes in, and I'll tell you what works and what I do.

Here's my scenario. In Iraq, it was always unpredictable - and it still is. Let's say you back up once a week or even every day, but then a bomb blows away your compound and your computer - you're left with nothing.

A good solution is to burn a DVD-R with all your important and mail it home (be sure to encrypt the disk with Toast), as discussed in my earlier article. An easier, more portable solution is to use online storage of your files if you have broadband Internet access.

There are lots of places online for online file storage starting with email accounts and Apple's .mac service. They're all great, but I wanted up to 1 GB of space for free and easy access from any platform.

My solution was to create a Mac disk image (.dmg). That's easy - just open Disk Utility (in the Utilities folder inside your Applications folder).

  • To create a disk image simply click on "new image"
  • Select where you want to save it in
  • Select the size you want the disk to be
  • Select AES-128 encryption
  • Select "read/write disk image" to make it writeable.

It will then ask you for a password. Make sure you use a nice long password. Now your private, protected disk is ready for use.

When you're done copying files to it or from it, simply eject the disk image. Then go to your favorite online storage service and upload the .dmg file. I use www.yousendit.com, which has a 1 GB upload limit. That's way more than I would ever use - and best of all, its free.

Once you've upload your disk image file and want to access it, there's a link in your email. Simply download the file, open it, enter your password, and your files are available.

You can also use Stuffit to compress files with passwords into .sit and .zip formats so they are multiplatform compatible. I use these procedures for local files, remote files, and even files on flash drives and on my iPod - just in case they get in the wrong hands, all the files are encrypted, so I'm safe just like my data. LEM

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