May 7, 2008 -- If your mom or dad has a Mac, help them safeguard their digital heirlooms with Apple's Time Capsule.
Time Capsule is an understated white box that can instantly transform a wired home network into a wireless one and contains a heavy-duty hard drive to automatically back up computer files.
As more and more of us use computers to organize documents, music, movies and precious photos, how many of us recognize that these items are irreplaceable and need to be backed up? Many people understand the concept but few actually do it.
According to Apple, 90 percent of computer owners don't back up their data even though they know they should. To combat this, Apple released a software program called Time Machine.
Time Machine is part of the latest operating system release that automatically backs up all files and keeps track of changes hourly, daily and monthly.
It's especially handy when you realize you deleted those wedding pictures accidentally just last week and Time Machine helps you get them back.
Time Capsule is hardware that works seamlessly with Time Machine by creating a wired or wireless home network and connecting to any computer to keep copies of all files in a safe place. The device will work with Macs running operating systems created before 10.5 (Leopard) and Windows XP and Vista, but without the automatic Time Machine feature. (There are third-party options for automatic incremental backups.)
Time Capsule has a built-in power supply and no antennas but still provides long-range speedy Internet access (802.11n). There is also a USB port to facilitate wireless printing and a way to backup your backups by plugging in a removable hard drive that you keep in another location, depending on how safe your really want to be.
There are cheaper solutions that are not as elegant and require a lot more configuration. Time Capsule combines simple setup and a speedy wireless network with automatic backup in a tidy box. Plus, recovering Aunt Chippie's first black-jack victory photo after your mom's hard drive crashes will certainly make it all worth the cost. The 500 GB version costs $299; 1 TB version costs $399.