Why Time Machine Is A Mac Essential

  • Posted: 22 May 2011 11:03 PM

    I’ve posted a new article called Why Time Machine is a Mac Essential at my digital lifestyle blog called The iPad Chronicles. This new article is scheduled for republication in the June issue of ATPM.

    The reason why I’m posting it here is because Time Machine is another example of the “value added” attributes of Mac OS X and the Mac platform. It’s not a wonder why Apple maintains strong margins on Mac sold while outperforming the PC industry in unit sales performance for 20 consecutive quarters.

    While there are other available Macintosh backup solutions, Time Machine is built into the OS and meets our needs for a comprehensive and regular backup regimen.

    [ Edited: 23 May 2011 10:26 PM by DawnTreader ]      
  • Posted: 22 May 2011 11:23 PM #1

    In a household of busy Mac users it’s easy to forego a regular backup regimen. I was pleasantly surprised the data was restored on the MacBook Pro so quickly and easily from a Time Machine backup after the installation of a replacement drive at an Apple retail store. I consider AppleCare to be another Mac essential.

         
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    Posted: 22 May 2011 11:45 PM #2

    Anybody with a job daily dependent on Mac files should use Time Machine.  A few hours wasted on recreating a single file, usually a critical one, is a lot of money down the drain.  Do backups.

    AppleCare ?  Of course, do it.

         
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    Posted: 23 May 2011 07:57 AM #3

    Yup. I’ve used TM to do 4 restores over the years. Twice for machines that went back under Apple Care and twice for my neurotic spring cleaning procedures. For my main machine I plug into a drobo about once a week for TM, and same for an external bootable using Carbon Copy Cloner. My bride backs up to a time capsule. Set it and forget it. Until you need it. And you will.

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    Posted: 23 May 2011 09:40 AM #4

    rezonate - 23 May 2011 10:57 AM

    For my main machine I plug into a drobo about once a week for TM, and same for an external bootable using Carbon Copy Cloner.

    I always liked the drobos but wondered if they could become corrupted.  The nice thing about Time Machine is you can temporarily point it to a different backup drive to get a second backup and then point it back to the original backup.

    My second backup drive goes to the safe deposit box every 3-6 months.  There are also solutions like Mozy.com, but I like the simplicity of Time Machine.

         
  • Posted: 23 May 2011 12:13 PM #5

    Like many of you, I have, willingly or unwillingly,  a number of real clients plus some other “friend and family” clients on personal computers. But I simply won’t help anyone who does not have a time machine drive attached any more.  Time machine has eliminated most of their file oriented catastrophes and panic phone calls. Although the time machine protocol is unsuitable for online databases and similar files, Its hourly increments have often calmed the seas and got people back into operation with as little as one hour of lost work.

    Despite changes in technology, I also operate a cycle of clones of important disk drives for myself and on larger systems. I still have ancient cron scripts running daily, weekly, monthly, etc. clone and incremental backups, even of RAID systems. I am considered by many to be a fanatic about backup. But I got burned long ago and it was an indelible learning experience. I can tell you horror stories that you wan’t believe about large corporations shut down for days because of recovery failures.

    One thing I learned long ago, however is to VERIFY ALL BACKUPS. Nothing like loading up a backup finding it worthless. So my advice is BE A FANATIC ABOUT BACKUP. People may think you weird, but you will can always recover and come out alive.

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  • Posted: 23 May 2011 12:27 PM #6

    garethharris@mac.com - 23 May 2011 03:13 PM

    Like many of you, I have, willingly or unwillingly,  a number of real clients plus some other “friend and family” clients on personal computers. But I simply won’t help anyone who does not have a time machine drive attached any more.  Time machine has eliminated most of their file oriented catastrophes and panic phone calls. Although the time machine protocol is unsuitable for online databases and similar files, Its hourly increments have often calmed the seas and got people back into operation with as little as one hour of lost work.

    Despite changes in technology, I also operate a cycle of clones of important disk drives for myself and on larger systems. I still have ancient cron scripts running daily, weekly, monthly, etc. clone and incremental backups, even of RAID systems. I am considered by many to be a fanatic about backup. But I got burned long ago and it was an indelible learning experience. I can tell you horror stories that you wan’t believe about large corporations shut down for days because of recovery failures.

    One thing I learned long ago, however is to VERIFY ALL BACKUPS. Nothing like loading up a backup finding it worthless. So my advice is BE A FANATIC ABOUT BACKUP. People may think you weird, but you will can always recover and come out alive.

    I’ve been burned too by not making backups. Once burned, once learned. Time Machine makes a backup routine almost effortless.

         
  • Posted: 23 May 2011 12:37 PM #7

    Thanks, DT. An important topic.

    As good and essential as Time Machine is (and I use it on the hourly backup strategy as well), it remains only one element in a robust backup strategy.

    Rather than elaborate, I’ll just plug Joe Kissell’s book, “Mac OS X Backups”, one of the Take Control series, as an excellent guide to fine-tuning one’s strategy, and keeping it current with evolving technology.

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    Posted: 23 May 2011 01:12 PM #8

    Having outgrown my 500Gb USB2 drive I’m looking for something bigger.

    2Tb minimum. Our 2 Macbooks fill the existing drive so I can’t have more than two or three TM backups at a time. I’m also playing with Video so the space I’ll need is growing fast.

    Ethernet Connection. USB2 is slow for the 500Gb drive. Larger than that it’s just not quick enough. With an Ethernet Connection I could also leave the backup drive connected to my Airport and have it show up as a shared drive on the network. This would simplify backups. No more lugging around the backup drive to each system.

    Any suggestions? I looked at the Drobo but it’s USB2 or Firewire. One is too slow and our MacBooks don’t have the other. The Drobo5 is out of my price range.

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  • Posted: 23 May 2011 02:21 PM #9

    geoduck - 23 May 2011 04:12 PM

    Having outgrown my 500Gb USB2 drive I’m looking for something bigger.

    2Tb minimum. Our 2 Macbooks fill the existing drive so I can’t have more than two or three TM backups at a time. I’m also playing with Video so the space I’ll need is growing fast.

    Ethernet Connection. USB2 is slow for the 500Gb drive. Larger than that it’s just not quick enough. With an Ethernet Connection I could also leave the backup drive connected to my Airport and have it show up as a shared drive on the network. This would simplify backups. No more lugging around the backup drive to each system.

    Any suggestions? I looked at the Drobo but it’s USB2 or Firewire. One is too slow and our MacBooks don’t have the other. The Drobo5 is out of my price range.


    Geoduck:

    I don’t have a good grasp of your set up, so this may not be optimally helpful. Before you do any of the following, I would back up your entire disk(s) first.

    Can I assume that you already are using Time Machine, but that you are using it on your 500GB USB hard drive (?). If yes, given that you have wireless capability, is your reason for not using a 2TB Timecapsule due to your need to move large video files? Do any of your machines have Firewire capability (400 or 800)?

    In the interest of time, there are a number of approaches you could take, including moving your video files onto a firewire or USB enabled hard drive, and removing them from your other versioned backups. Whether you did your versioned backups (Timemachine) via USB or wirelessly, they would go much faster, and you could get away with a smaller hard drive, if you didn’t want to spring for a larger drive just yet.

    You would still need at least one for the video files, but not necessarily 2TB at this stage. The first time you move all this onto a USB (or even firewire 800 drive), it will b be slow, but afterwards, you’ll be doing versioned backups. Your video file backups would be done separately, either to the same hard drive as your other versioned backups, or to a dedicated video backup drive; and these could be done less frequently than the hourly backups you are probably doing with Timemachine (e.g. once a week).

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  • Posted: 23 May 2011 02:29 PM #10

    wab95 - 23 May 2011 03:37 PM

    Thanks, DT. An important topic.

    As good and essential as Time Machine is (and I use it on the hourly backup strategy as well), it remains only one element in a robust backup strategy.

    Rather than elaborate, I’ll just plug Joe Kissell’s book, “Mac OS X Backups”, one of the Take Control series, as an excellent guide to fine-tuning one’s strategy, and keeping it current with evolving technology.

    Depending on one’s occupation (media pro, for example) a backup strategy might require additional steps. What I do appreciate about Time Machine is the hourly backup regimen that occurs automatically.

    The only backup schemes that work are the ones that are used. As a primary backup solution for the vast majority of Mac users Times Machine is almost effortless and backs up data automatically.

         
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    Posted: 23 May 2011 02:34 PM #11

    curious - what drives do peeps like for using w/ Time Machine?

         
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    Posted: 23 May 2011 02:54 PM #12

    wab95 - 23 May 2011 05:21 PM


    Geoduck:

    I don’t have a good grasp of your set up, so this may not be optimally helpful.

    I probably could have described things more clearly. I have a 500Mb portable USB drive. I’ve used TM, the first backup is full then incremental after that. Unfortunately we only have MacBooks (though I’ve upgraded the drives to 500Mb) so no FireWire, (though I have hoped of a MacBook Pro next year, maybe, if SWMBO agrees).

    given that you have wireless capability, is your reason for not using a 2TB Timecapsule due to your need to move large video files?

    The Airport is working fine so I don’t want to replace that. I’ve tried to plug the drive into the Airport’s USB port but it’s been slow, the connection has been rather flaky and then I have to unplug my USB printer.

    In the interest of time, there are a number of approaches you could take, including moving your video files onto a firewire or USB enabled hard drive, and removing them from your other versioned backups. Whether you did your versioned backups (Timemachine) via USB or wirelessly, they would go much faster, and you could get away with a smaller hard drive, if you didn’t want to spring for a larger drive just yet.

    I thought about keeping the video and iTunes libraries on the portable separate from the TM backups but I’d still wouldn’t have much room for backups. As it is I use TM once a month. I’d rather have it run normally but I just don’t have the space. I’ve already omitted my VirtualBox disk images in the name of saving space. If I get a new backup drive would also let me move the (three year old) USB drive to supplementary service where a failure of the old drive wouldn’t be as devastating.

    You would still need at least one for the video files, but not necessarily 2TB at this stage. The first time you move all this onto a USB (or even firewire 800 drive), it will b be slow, but afterwards, you’ll be doing versioned backups. Your video file backups would be done separately, either to the same hard drive as your other versioned backups, or to a dedicated video backup drive; and these could be done less frequently than the hourly backups you are probably doing with Timemachine (e.g. once a week).

    I was thinking of a NAS with a couple of disks. One for regular backups and a second for things like video that only need to be backed up periodically.

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  • Posted: 23 May 2011 03:28 PM #13

    kloot - 23 May 2011 05:34 PM

    curious - what drives do peeps like for using w/ Time Machine?

    I use an Apple Time Capsule as both a Time Machine backup drive and an Airport base station. I’ve also had good experiences with the Western Digital My Book drives as Time Machine external drives.

         
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    Posted: 23 May 2011 10:18 PM #14

    kloot - 23 May 2011 05:34 PM

    curious - what drives do peeps like for using w/ Time Machine?

    I use an external FireWire drive. USB is just too slow. TM can choke while searching for files. You can’t believe how much I use it for version control as a web designer. Best part of OSX.x in my opinion.

         
  • Posted: 23 May 2011 10:26 PM #15

    ChasMac77 - 24 May 2011 01:18 AM
    kloot - 23 May 2011 05:34 PM

    curious - what drives do peeps like for using w/ Time Machine?

    I use an external FireWire drive. USB is just too slow. TM can choke while searching for files. You can’t believe how much I use it for version control as a web designer. Best part of OSX.x in my opinion.

    How do you manage different versions of large images on hourly backups?