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Old Dec 24, 2008, 12:29 PM   #1
cycler15
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Time Machine question - Can you access the files?

I plan on using Time Machine with an external hard drive and have a question.

Once the backup is complete, are the full files stored on the hard drive? Are they stored on the hard drive in the same folder structure as the computer? Meaning, can I plug the hard drive into another computer and cut and paste all the files (pictures, music, etc) onto the new computer? Or are the files encrypted in a format that only Time Machine can do a restore?
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Old Dec 24, 2008, 12:49 PM   #2
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Each backup you do will be a seperate folder, Time Machine theb uses all of these folders together to restore your machine to any date. Therefore each folder contains only the changes since the last backup and no folders will hold everything,
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Old Dec 24, 2008, 01:00 PM   #3
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Hmmm, I'm not sure if I like that method. I would prefer to just always have the latest files on hand, and not every iteration.

Right now I just drag and drop all my personal file folders onto a hard drive. This way if my wife or my family needs some pictures or music files, I know exactly how to access them and I can easily drag and drop to their computers.

Can you configure Time Machine to only keep the latest files and not multiple copies?
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Old Dec 24, 2008, 02:49 PM   #4
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A suggestion would be to simply use Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper to clone your system ( and then do periodic "incremental updates") to always have a valid bootable copy of your disk with a single copy of each file laid out identically to the drive you are cloning rather than using Time Machine in your particular situation. FWIW- I totally understand your thoughts on that.

I don't believe there is a way to limit Time Machine to a single instance of each file as that would defeat the very purpose of Time Machine-- to give you the opportunity to "reach back in time" to restore earlier revisions of a particular file.

BTW- the cloning programs do have options to archive earlier versions of files when doing incremental backups if that is desired- but the main backup will always be just a duplicate of the drive you wish to back up (in other words, just the current version of each file).

*One advantage of cloning programs I thought I would throw in is that in case of hard drive failure, you can immediately boot from the clone and be right back in action while you obtain a replacement drive. With Time Machine that is not possible since the backup set is not bootable-- so you must obtain a new drive, format it and restore the entire fileset before you can start up again-- a significant downside IMO.
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Old Dec 24, 2008, 03:14 PM   #5
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As said above, Time Machine is not a real backup solution, as it does not create bootable backups and isn't really accessible for manual file recovery.
Think of it as iBackup, or backup light .

Manual backups using SuperDuper, CCC, Disk Utility's restore function and the likes are still the only safe bet here.
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Old Dec 30, 2008, 04:55 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by sickmacdoc View Post
A suggestion would be to simply use Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper to clone your system ( and then do periodic "incremental updates") to always have a valid bootable copy of your disk with a single copy of each file laid out identically to the drive you are cloning rather than using Time Machine in your particular situation. FWIW- I totally understand your thoughts on that.

I don't believe there is a way to limit Time Machine to a single instance of each file as that would defeat the very purpose of Time Machine-- to give you the opportunity to "reach back in time" to restore earlier revisions of a particular file.

BTW- the cloning programs do have options to archive earlier versions of files when doing incremental backups if that is desired- but the main backup will always be just a duplicate of the drive you wish to back up (in other words, just the current version of each file).

*One advantage of cloning programs I thought I would throw in is that in case of hard drive failure, you can immediately boot from the clone and be right back in action while you obtain a replacement drive. With Time Machine that is not possible since the backup set is not bootable-- so you must obtain a new drive, format it and restore the entire fileset before you can start up again-- a significant downside IMO.
Thanks sickmacdoc. One more question... so if I use Carbon Copy Cloner, the external drive is basically a full replica of my hard drive? All my files are accessible within the same folder structure and everything?
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Old Dec 30, 2008, 06:00 PM   #7
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Thanks sickmacdoc. One more question... so if I use Carbon Copy Cloner, the external drive is basically a full replica of my hard drive? All my files are accessible within the same folder structure and everything?
Yes.

Bear in mind that you can fully restore any Time Machine backup using the Leopard DVD. Even though the backups are incremental, you can restore your system to how it was at any point that Time Machine has backed up.
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Old Dec 30, 2008, 06:16 PM   #8
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Thanks sickmacdoc. One more question... so if I use Carbon Copy Cloner, the external drive is basically a full replica of my hard drive? All my files are accessible within the same folder structure and everything?
Yes- the external drive literally is a "clone" as the name would imply. The directory structure will be identical, and when booted from it or your internal drive you should not be able to tell any difference whatsoever. You can then pull off anything you want, or restore the whole drive by simply booting to your clone and "cloning" it back to your internal drive- or just keep on running from the external as long as you want while you replace a failed internal, even though that is really not even necessary!
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Old Dec 31, 2008, 01:22 AM   #9
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Yes.

Bear in mind that you can fully restore any Time Machine backup using the Leopard DVD. Even though the backups are incremental, you can restore your system to how it was at any point that Time Machine has backed up.
This is definitely the case. One can restore to a point and time pretty easily using TM.

I agree TM is a basic form of backup, and another utility is recommended. I'm holding out to see how well Retrospect X will perform once it gets released. What this utility will bring to the table will be encrypted backups, and the ability to copy and move backup sets around, not to mention having backups span multiple drives.
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