Ask the Mac.AppStorm Editor #11

It’s time for another “Ask the Editor” post today. A big thank you to everyone who sent in their questions – it’s great to have the chance to help you out with your Mac-related queries and quibbles.

Today I’ll be offering some advice about what Thunderbolt means for Mac users, how you can store and organise your recipes on OS X, and a particularly reliable option for an external hard drive.

Read on for plenty of handy Mac knowledge, and I hope you’ll find most of it useful for your own situation as well!

What external hard drive would you recommend for best reliability?

– LP

Drobo is a pretty cool little robot...

Drobo is a pretty cool little robot...

Well, there’s certainly no shortage of choice! External hard drives come in all shapes and sizes, and your choice will depend on a number of different factors. If reliability is the key point that you have in mind, I’d recommend an option that might be a little bit pricy, but should last you for several years to come.

Drobo make a range of different external hard drive enclosures, in which you put your own 3.5″ internal drives. This gives you the option of expanding storage as you need to, and keeps everything very flexible. You’ll need to put at least two drives in to start with.

The beauty of a Drobo is that it automatically keeps a redundant backup of all your information. Any time you save a file to the device, it ensures that it’s automatically stored on at least two separate hard drives. This means that if any single drive fails within you Drobo device, you can simply replace it with another one with absolutely no data loss.

Although this isn’t a cheap option, it’s definitely one of the best ways to have an unbelievably reliable external hard drive system. The basic Drobo starts at $399, and doesn’t include any hard drives (though it takes standard 3.5″ internal drives that are relatively inexpensive). I’ve been using one for a couple of years, and can’t recommend it highly enough!

What’s the big deal about Thunderbolt on the new Macs, and what will it work with?

– Samuel Holdsworth

Apple have committed to this new technology in a big way, and are essentially pushing for it to become a standard (rather than USB3.0). This is what Apple has to say about it, in a more concise sentence than I could muster myself:

Thunderbolt is a revolutionary I/O technology that supports high-resolution displays and high-performance data devices through a single, compact port. It sets new standards for speed, flexibility, and simplicity.

Essentially, it’s a new port – like USB, or Firewire – that has a much higher capacity than anything that has come before. It’s capable of transmitting video and data at phenomenal speed – you can move data to and from peripherals up to 20 times faster than with USB 2.0 and up to 12 times faster than with FireWire 800.

It’s also possible to daisy-chain devices and have, say, a few high-speed drives, a display, and several other peripherals connected at the same time. All without any drop in speed or quality.

At present, Thunderbolt hardware is fairly limited. A few devices already available are:

All of these are fairly high-end devices, but you’ll see it trickling down into more mass-market products soon.

I’m a budding chef and want somewhere to store my recipes. What software would you recommend for collecting a bunch of recipes?

– Jake Sergey

Good question! There are a bunch of different recipe apps available for the Mac, some of which offer a big range of bells and whistles, others that are a little more simplistic. Here are a few that you might like to try:

  • MacGourmet ($29) – MacGourmet helps you create and edit your recipes, wine notes and cooking notes, easily browse your entire collection and build your own custom lists for categories like appetizers or desserts. It has a really beautiful icon, and a simple interface design. We reviewed it a few weeks ago, so you might like to check out what we had to say.
  • SousChef ($30) – Most cooking software stops at letting you organize your recipes. SousChef helps you cook, start to finish. Find a recipe, cook it, modify it and share it with friends & family—all in one application. They have over 200,000 recipes in their “recipe cloud”
  • YummySoup! ($4.99) – YummySoup! allows you to easily create digital copies of all your favorite recipes and share them with friends and family with professional themed prints, email, and with Recipecasts.

Didn’t See Your Question?

If you asked a question but didn’t have it answered today, don’t worry! I’ll do my best to get to it in a future week. I love a challenge, so feel free to ask some weird and wonderful questions…

If you’d like to submit your query, you can do so here:

Thanks for reading, and let me know if you agree or disagree with anything I mentioned today!