Mobility
Mac OS Padlock

Security is a major concern for all computers with Internet or network connections, and especially for mobile business systems. Fortunately for Mac users, the built-in security features of Leopard include application-based firewalls, disk image encryption (up to 256-bit AES), enhanced VPN compatibility and “sandboxing”, which ensures that Mac applications can’t be hijacked by hackers to run their own code.

It’s simple to stay up-to-date with the latest Mac security improvements: whenever there’s a new security update, your Mac alerts you to download it via the automatic Software Update feature.

MobileMe

There’s more to staying secure than protecting your notebook from outside interference. Apple offers several ingenious solutions to make sure your data is safely backed up, synchronised and available wherever you are. A MobileMe1 account makes it easy to synchronise your Mac notebook with your desktop computer. It also provides secure public file sharing and transfer via iDisk, 20GB of online storage with one-click backups, IMAP email and other features — and even lets you access your Leopard-based Mac at the office from your notebook via the Internet.

Time Machine

Accidentally delete an important document? The new Time Machine2 feature in Leopard is a set it and forget it tool that automatically backs up and links files on your Mac to an external FireWire or USB drive, with incremental backups based on your preferences. You can restore a single file or the entire contents of your computer as they appeared on a specific date. Mobile Mac users can connect a small, portable hard drive for space-efficient Time Machine backups on the go.

Seven Savvy Storage and Transfer Solutions

Sending and receiving large email attachments can be problematic when you’re away from the office. Here are some alternatives to consider when you need to transfer, back up, or store big files.

File Transfer

iChat

iChat. Use Apple’s iChat instant message application to share URLs, text documents, graphics, mp3s and small video files with colleagues. Just initiate a chat with the recipient, select “Send File” under the Buddies menu, choose your file and click “Send”. iChat can handle large file transfers if you’re patient, but works best with more modest files.

iDisk

iDisk. As part of every MobileMe account (79 € per year for basic membership), users get email, web hosting and a personal iDisk online hard drive. iDisk is accessible directly from your Mac’s desktop, bringing drag-and-drop ease to data storage and transfer. Drop off materials in your iDisk’s public folder for collaborators or clients to download at their convenience — or pick up files that others have uploaded for you. With your username and an optional password, iDisk can be accessed by anyone anywhere, whether or not they’re on a Mac. Apple recently increased iDisk’s capacity to 20GB for basic accounts, with 200GB of file transfers per month, making it easier than ever to share large files with minimal fuss. Still not enough? Upgrade to 40GB of storage (with 400GB monthly data transfer) or 60GB (with 600GB monthly data transfer).

Online File Transfer Services. Sometimes it’s smart to make file transfer as easy as possible for the recipient — for example, a client with less-than-expert technical skills. Using a web-based file transfer service such as dropsend.com, yousendit.com or sendyourfiles.com lets you upload and deliver compressed files via the Internet. Specify the data to be transferred and the recipient, and they’ll receive a notification email with instructions on how to download your compressed files — it’s usually as simple as clicking a link in the email. File size limits vary; dropsend.com handles deliveries up to 1GB, while sendyourfiles.com has a limit of 10GB. Some of these services charge a monthly fee, especially for larger or more frequent downloads. But many offer free basic or trial download services, so you can test them to see which best suits your needs.

Data Storage and Transfer

CD-Rs and DVD-Rs. CD-Rs and DVD-Rs are among the most economical storage media around. If you buy DVD-Rs in bulk, you get a whopping 4.7GB of storage per disc at cheap prices. And the blazing-fast SuperDrive in all MacBook Pros can burn DVD-Rs and CD-Rs at up to 24x speed.

USB Flash Drive. The humble but reliable USB flash drive is hard to beat for quick, temporary data backup or transport. Like cockroaches, they’re compact, fast and difficult to kill — and unlike CD-Rs and DVD-Rs, they can be reused (on average, they last for several hundred thousand write/erase cycles). Most flash drives hold 1GB to 8GB and fit comfortably on a keychain, but the largest ones can manage up to 64GB of data. And they come in shapes to suit every taste, from the basic two-inch rectangular “thumb drive” to plastic sushi rolls and small plush animals.

Mobile Hard Drive. These plug-and-play USB or FireWire drives require no driver or software installation and hold 80GB to 250GB. Physical size? Slightly larger than a deck of cards. And with such a high ratio of cash to gigabyte, there’s no reason not to add one or two to your mobile office for file transfers, backups and extra elbow room for current projects.

iPods

iPod. Before you rush out to buy a new portable hard drive, take a fresh look at an old companion: your iPod can also act as a USB storage and file transfer device. Just drag files onto your iPod in the Mac Finder to load them. To copy the files to another location, drag them to your desktop, a folder on your computer’s hard drive or another portable drive. (Note, however, that files stored on your iPod in this way don’t appear in iTunes or on the iPod’s screen. You have to connect to your computer and access them via the OS X Finder.)

iChat: Real-Time Collaboration from Anywhere. Staying in touch with clients and colleagues is a crucial part of doing business, whether in the office or on the road. Current MacBook and MacBook Pro users already have a valuable built-in tool for mobile collaboration: Apple’s iChat instant message application, which lets users conduct real-time text, voice or video conferences3 with associates around the world.

With the built-in iSight video camera that comes standard on all MacBooks and MacBook Pros, initiating video chats is as simple as clicking a button. A new iChat feature in OS X Leopard enables you to record audio or video files of your conversations for future reference.

iChat is also great for sharing URLs, documents, graphics and other data. Using iChat to transfer files is faster and more efficient than passing printed meeting notes around a conference table — and easier on the trees. You can collaborate by trading views of each other’s desktops via iChat, or dragging files from one computer to another.

MacBook Pro

Some businesses, like UK-based design firm Universal Everything, have eliminated the expense of a centralised office altogether. Instead, founder Matt Pyke and his colleagues all work remotely in their own studios around the world, sharing information and ideas via iChat. “iChat enables us to form a virtual studio, with different skills combined according to each project’s needs”, says Pyke. “We video chat for semi-real meetings, saving on travel time and carbon emissions, and share large files over iChat as well”.

Profiles

  1. Annual membership fee and internet access required. Terms and Conditions apply.
  2. Requires an additional hard drive (sold separately).
  3. Video chat requires broadband video access; fees may apply.

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