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Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

We answer questions about upgrading to Mountain Lion and setting up backups on an internal hard drive.

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer questions e-mailed in by our readers.

This week readers wrote in with questions on how to back up to an internal partition or drive in a Mac, what to do about files not opening in the appropriate application when double-clicked in the Finder, and whether or not the Mountain Lion upgrade will affect Boot Camp partitions. We welcome views from readers, so if you have any suggestions or alternative approaches to these problems, post them in the comments!

Question: Backing up to an internal drive or partition
MacFixIt reader Curtis asks:

I have a 2010 15" MacBook Pro that I need some advice on. I don't have a physical backup drive at the moment but I want to back up my hard drive. When I had an Acer Windows Laptop, I was able to back up my hard drive to a partition. Is it possible to do this with a MacBook Pro? Am I able to create a partition on my hard disk and use it solely as a backup/recovery drive? If so, could you please tell me how. I asked someone at an Apple Store in New York City and they told me it was impossible. They then went on to try and get me to buy Time Capsule. I'm of the mind that the sales associate was just trying to upsell me a product.

Yes, you can do this. Open Disk Utility in the /Applications/Utilities/ folder, and then select your hard-drive device (the item above the boot volume name in the device list -- it should have a size and make/model number in its name). Then go to the Partition tab and click the plus symbol to create a new partition. Drag the separator to resize it to your needs, then name it and set its format to Mac OS X Extended (Journaled).

When this is done, click "Apply" to make the changes and then select the new volume to use as a Time Machine volume in the Time Machine system preferences.

One thing to keep in mind though is I always recommend people first back up before adjusting their drive's partition schemes, so be sure to do so using an external hard drive (You can set up Time Machine with any FireWire or USB drive to do this). When the partition is created, you can then set Time Machine to use that instead.

Secondly, while you can set this up, it is never a good idea to have a backup drive be the same drive as the primary drive device (or even a secondary drive within the computer). While doing so will give you options for restoring corrupted files, should the drive or system fail then you will have a very difficult time getting your data off of it and onto a new computer.

Lastly, starting with OS X Lion, Apple has already introduced local/mobile backups, where Time Machine creates backups of documents on the main boot drive in a hidden folder. This in effect serves the same purpose as having a second partition on the drive for backup purposes, though the backups are kept on the main boot drive. You can see this if you go to the Finder and enter Time Machine from there without an external Time Machine drive attached, and also by choosing "About this Mac" from the Apple menu, clicking "More Info," and then clicking "Storage," where you will see a section of your boot drive being used for Backups.

Question: Files not opening in the proper application from the Finder
MacFixIt reader Jan asks:

I have thousands of Word files that no longer open on double-clicking the Finder. I have Mac Word 2008 and 2011; I can open them in 2008 from the open menu. Is there a script or mass update utility to update all these to docx before it is too late?

Word should be able to open older Word document formats. Try selecting one of the documents and pressing Command-I to get information on it. Then go to the Open With section and select Word (either version 2008 or 2011) from the menu in this section. Then click the Change All button and confirm this setting, and the documents should open in the selected application. If not, the open the OS X Terminal utility (in the /Applications/Utilities folder), and run the following command to clear the launchservices database (copy and paste this command):

`sudo find /System/Library/Frameworks -name lsregister` -kill -seed

Note that when this command runs you will need to enter your password.

Question: Mountain Lion upgrade affecting Boot Camp installations
MacFixIt reader Scott asks:

I have a 15-inch MBP (2011) with Windows 7 installed in Boot Camp. If I install Moutain Lion, will it wipe out my Boot Camp partition?

No, it will not. The Mountain Lion upgrade will only affect the active OS X partition. However, if you are at all concerned that something might happen to your Boot Camp partition, you can back it up using the Boot Camp cloning tool WinClone.

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