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Old Jan 8, 2013, 01:54 PM   #1
kimfjeld
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Recovery HD & Time Machine backup

I need some input on how to set up a recovery HD on my iMac and how to best administer a Time Machine backup. My idea is that I want to keep both the Mac OSX installer and the Time Machine backup on separate partitions on the iMac, in order to readily access them in case of system failure.

Edit: I have a SnowLeopard installation USB.

Last edited by kimfjeld; Jan 8, 2013 at 01:58 PM. Reason: To avoid confusion.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 02:14 PM   #2
r0k
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kimfjeld View Post
I need some input on how to set up a recovery HD on my iMac and how to best administer a Time Machine backup. My idea is that I want to keep both the Mac OSX installer and the Time Machine backup on separate partitions on the iMac, in order to readily access them in case of system failure.

Edit: I have a SnowLeopard installation USB.
You can easily add your own recovery HD by ripping your install DVD or USB to a dmg file, creating a 5 GB partition then restoring the dmg file to it. Test that you can boot from it by holding option while you boot up.

I must ask why bother? If you have a SL USB why bother putting a SL recovery partition on your HDD?

Next there is Time Machine. You really want TM to back up to a TB, FW or USB drive, not any partition in your Mac because if your HDD dies, absolutely everything goes away with it. I don't recommend relying on TM as your only backup. I suggest using crashplan, ccc, superduper or some other method to make yourself a primary backup. Notice I didn't mention TM as your primary backup? That should tell you something.
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Old Jan 9, 2013, 01:49 PM   #3
kimfjeld
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Originally Posted by r0k View Post
(...)I must ask why bother? If you have a SL USB why bother putting a SL recovery partition on your HDD?

(...)Notice I didn't mention TM as your primary backup?(...)
First,thank you for a clean and thorough answer!

I thought it would be convenient to a recovery partition on the HD in case I lost my USB, again. If the HD totally fails, then I really can't save it anyway because that would be beyond any recovery operation. At least that's my reasoning.

I will certainly look into the different backup options. If you come back to this thread, can you shortly elaborate why it's better to choose another backup option than TM?
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Old Jan 9, 2013, 02:18 PM   #4
r0k
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Originally Posted by kimfjeld View Post
First,thank you for a clean and thorough answer!

I thought it would be convenient to a recovery partition on the HD in case I lost my USB, again. If the HD totally fails, then I really can't save it anyway because that would be beyond any recovery operation. At least that's my reasoning.

I will certainly look into the different backup options. If you come back to this thread, can you shortly elaborate why it's better to choose another backup option than TM?
You're welcome. I've had a few unfortunate incidents with Time Machine backing up to a network drive (Time Capsule). For this reason, I consider TM a nice to have and I consider something like Crashplan, CCC, Carboniteor SuperDuper a must have. By all means go ahead and use TM only don't assume it's "perfect".

One situation where I lost data was the power supply in my 1st gen TC died and when Apple returned it, all the files were gone. Meanwhile my daughter's Mac mini died while the TC was off being repaired.

Another situation where I (almost) lost data was when I was upgrading to Lion on my wife's Mac mini. At some point, possibly due to some fat-fingering on my part, her HDD got wiped. As I went to restore it, I was told the TM backup was "corrupted" and there was nothing that could be recovered. That's when I downloaded all her stuff from Crashplan and it all came back.

I've had numerous times where TM popped up and told me it was time to "start over" for the TM backups of my MBP. I simply click yes and resign myself to never being able to browse back to the 2009 version of some file. And yes I have Crashplan providing a second safety net for my more important files.

When I upgrade a Mac, often I use CCC to clone the drive. Another technique I use is to create a brand new fresh TM backup on a USB or FW drive then install the OS and "migrate" from the backup I just made. Once I'm satisfied everything is working on the new drive, I wipe the old one and pass it on to another family member. I would never attempt to migrate from a "stale" TM backup as I'd be worried it might somehow be corrupted. Creating a "fresh" TM backup can take overnight but at least it's unattended.

hope this helps...
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 12:09 PM   #5
kimfjeld
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Originally Posted by r0k View Post
(...)hope this helps...
Indeed it did. Thank you again.

The irony in this story is that I actually look into the TM backup option because my main backup got corrupted. That concurred with the system failure, an indirect cause as I wanted to (re-)mirror the drive onto the secondary backup unit to update the secondary backup. As you see, I didn't use TM at all, but manually migrated files to their proper location in the backup database, occasionally (re-)mirroring it to a secondary unit for extra safety. Fortunately I was able to extract a good chunk of the lost files from the iMac (unaccesible on the corrupted backup unit) prior to the reinstallation using cp commands in Terminal from the SL installation USB.

I'm actually a sucker for backup, but I have always stuck to this manual method because it has worked for a decade or so, until now. Therefore I find your extensive reply of various cases pointing against TM reliability as quite valuable input as I want to go advanced in the field of backup. So I'll definitively look into the mentioned must haves in order to calm my current backup neurosis!

Last edited by kimfjeld; Jan 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM. Reason: grammar
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