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Apple developing Backup 3.0 software for .Mac users

Apple Computer is developing a major update to Backup, its data loss prevention software created specifically for .Mac users, AppleInsider has learned.

The Mac OS X application, which is complimentary with each .Mac subscription but may also be used as a standalone Mac OS X application, allows users to easily backup files to their iDisk, hard drive, or external FireWire drive. It also allows for backups to recordable CD and DVD discs, a network server, or other mounted volumes.

According to reliable sources, Backup 3.0 will simplify backups through the addition of multiple backup plans, which are designed to secure users' most critical data, such as home folders, personal data files, and iLife content. The release will also allow users to schedule backups to any destination, and back up more than one computer to the same iDisk.

To ensure that a user's most important files are always protected, Backup 3 will ship with preset backup plans for iLife content such as iPhotos, iMovies, and iTunes music. Additional presets for personal settings and home folders will also come standard.

Users will be able to customize these presets or create new backup plans by specifying the files and folders they want to protect, then add one or more destinations and schedules for each plan. Sources say this feature will allow for daily backups of small files — like system preferences — to an iDisk, while providing an option to back up much larger files less frequently and to separate destinations.

Backup 3 will also allow for scheduling incremental backups to optical media, copying only the files that have changed since the previous backup.

Each time the software performs a backup, it will save new versions of files that have changed since the previous backup, sources said. This feature will allow users to quickly restore lost or damaged files from either the most recent backup or an older archived backup. Additionally, the new version will offer users the option to restore backups to an alternative location or to restore only those files missing from their original location.

Other features of Backup 3 reportedly include: notification of missed backups; an enhanced History panel; a single window summary of all backup plans; and QuickPicks for new application data types, such as Quicken files.

With the new version, sources say Apple has shed Backup of its brushed aluminum interface, returning it to a smooth Aqua and Platinum look. Sources say the overall layout of the application has also been simplified to present backups as 'plans.' Default plans include Home Folder, Personal Data and Settings, iLife, and Purchased Music. A fifth plan — Transfer — eases the migration of settings from previous versions of Backup to version 3.0.

Sources were unable to provide a specific date when the application would be made available, but did say it was in the latter stages of development.