Time Machine is awesome, but some MacBook owners prefer a more traditional automated backup and restore process — one that doesn’t involve running the Time Machine application and navigating through the files and folders on a drive.

For example, a person backing up a Mac acting as a Web server or iTunes media server would much rather restore the entire contents of a volume automatically, in bulk, or create a custom backup/restore schedule that safeguards only certain files and folders.

If you’re dead-set against Time Machine, you can turn to a commercial backup application for your salvation — one recommendation is Roxio Retrospect Desktop 8. This well-written “software bungee cord” might save your posterior more than once. SuperDuper is another well-respected backup solution — it creates a fully-bootable image backup (often called a clone) of your laptop’s hard drive.

Using Retrospect Desktop 8 or SuperDuper is good security, but if you can’t afford one of these applications at the moment, take a second to at least back up your most important documents by copying them to a rewriteable CD or DVD or a USB flash drive. With this poor man’s backup, even if you lose your entire hard drive, you can still restore what matters the most.