Backup software - time machine or third party?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Narcosynthesis, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. Narcosynthesis macrumors member

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    Dec 21, 2008
    #1
    Now that I have my mac running, it is time to get everything backed up safely on an external drive.

    Previously on my older windows machine I used the microsoft synctoy to backup my critical files to an external drive whenever I ran it, worked fine with no complaints.

    Now that I have switched to the mac, I have a choice of either using the inbuilt time machine software, or getting some third party software (I know there are a few linked on the Apple site), the question is whether there is an obvious benefit to using either?

    As far as I can see it, to use time machine backs up my entire system, from replacing the hard drive I know it will restore absolutely everything (though I didn't have any files saved at that point just a few programs and personal settings).
    On the flipside other software would let me just backup my important folders, so they are just saved as normal and can be pulled up as I would do on the macs hard drive - I can keep some files on the backup drive that I only need occasionally for example, as far as I can see with time machine I can either restore everything, or nothing

    I was wondering if there was an obvious choice for those more experienced with macs and the setup than me?

    Ideally I would run a combination of both - can I set it up so to use time machine to save my computers setup and program set, and then separately use another program to back up the critical files. I see that as the ideal setting as I can restore the computer from time machine if needed, but also have the files available for use on other machines.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. mcnicks macrumors regular

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    Jan 8, 2006
    #2
    I would say both.I have partitioned my USB backup drive into two. I use SuperDuper to create a backup of my system disk onto one partition every week, and I run TimeMachine on the second partition to keep archives of my data. That way, its very easy to recover deleted files using TM and, if there is a catastrophic failure of some sort, I have a bootable backup ready to go so that I do not have to fiddle around with a reinstall and restore from TM.
     
  3. BlueRevolution macrumors 603

    BlueRevolution

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    #3
    Both is ideal, but is a lot of work. If it's a choice of one or the other, go with Time Machine. But if you can set up an automatic backup to do your important stuff like you describe, so much the better.

    Personally, I find that Time Machine is enough. If you want to have a bootable partition/drive in case of bad things, I'd just run a fresh install, put whatever you'd need for diagnostics on there, and forget about it. Updating a full-drive backup takes a lot of time.
     
  4. Narcosynthesis thread starter macrumors member

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    #4
    When I used time machine to copy my system to replace the hard drive I seem to remember it dedicating the hard drive to itself and not allowing me to use it for anything else.

    Am I talking nonsense? or is there a trick I am missing here?
     
  5. BlueRevolution macrumors 603

    BlueRevolution

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    #5
    No, I'm pretty sure you can use the drive for anything you want. If not, you can create a separate partition on the drive specifically for Time Machine.
     
  6. sickmacdoc macrumors 68020

    sickmacdoc

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    #6
    Time Machine keeps its full backup set stored neatly within a single folder on a drive (with a bunch of dated folders inside ;)) so nothing special needs to be done to a drive. You can easily use the rest of the drive for data other than the TM backup folder with no restrictions (other than the obvious fact that the other data is not being backed up).
     
  7. Ashka macrumors 6502a

    Ashka

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    #7
    Both:
    500gig drive for Time Machine as it needs to be larger than the Macs HD. some say twice as large.

    Small 160 gig drive, that used to be the iBooks time machine drive, for User account including software dmgs, Music & Photos.
     
  8. Narcosynthesis thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 21, 2008
    #8
    The drive size thing was part of my plan - all my drives are 320gb, so I don't want time machine taking up 50% of the space - so I can run time machine after updates (plus deleting the older data) so that the system data is roughly similar to its actual size, which leaves enough space for a mirror of the important data (which is not recopied with each backup, just amended/updated.

    Make sense to do?
     
  9. BlueRevolution macrumors 603

    BlueRevolution

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    #9
    Not really. Time Machine makes incremental backups, so unless you change many large files constantly, it won't grow much for supplemental backups. Also, contrary to what Ashka says, your Time Machine backup drive only needs to be larger than the used space on your main drive. Personally, I'd say 1.5x is enough.
     
  10. Narcosynthesis thread starter macrumors member

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    #10
    Well the drive I have are all 1:1, so that's what I am stuck with for now - should I need space more can be bought later on (and hopefully prices will have come down further, bonus)

    Setup time machine to save my system, minus my folder (containing music, pictures, downloads, etc...). Downloaded superduper! to find out it the free trial is only the basic setting, and not the one I need (incremental backups - as standard it wipes the drive and reloads each time) - is it worth the pennies to buy a license? Or are there just as good free alternatives? (my previous backup software was admittedly free from microsoft...)
     
  11. BlueRevolution macrumors 603

    BlueRevolution

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    #11
  12. Cap41 macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Great Thing about Caborn copy, is its bootable. I use it. I can boot to either drive if necessary, if you have a catastrophic failure using timemachine, i dont think you can boot to the external drive. I think with carbon copy, you boot to the copied HD and just move everything back. simple.
     
  13. BlueRevolution macrumors 603

    BlueRevolution

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    #13
    You can. When my MacBook Pro crashed, I had thankfully bought and backed up to an external hard drive for the first time in my life the week before. I continued to do all my work from that hard drive while plugged into my mother's iMac for several months. For some reason, the system performance dropped horribly when I upgraded to Leopard, so I had to go in and partition her hard drive. Again, I used CCC to clone my external drive back onto that partition, and everything worked perfectly as before.
     
  14. Wilzard macrumors newbie

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    #14
    Do you mean you can boot from an external USB HD? I didn't know that was possible; I've tried to get the Startup Disk preference to recognize my USB drive, & it won't do it. Please elaborate.

    Thx, Wilz
     
  15. BlueRevolution macrumors 603

    BlueRevolution

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    #15
    Sure you can. Now you elaborate... what's on the drive? Just like any partition, it needs to be bootable before you can, y'know, boot from it. ;)
     
  16. Narcosynthesis thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 21, 2008
    #16
    after reading a bit about what superduper can do, was just wondering about the benefits of creating a sandbox for my system...

    If I create a sandbox it means I can basically run my system from the external HDD instead of the internal one - how useful is this in comparison to using time machine to create a system backup? I realise time machine does not create a bootable system (so in the event of a HDD crash, I would have to replace the drive, install osx and then use time machine to restore, instead of being able to boot from the other drive?). On the other side, can I completely restore the whole system using a superduper backup?

    Still trying to figure out what it is worth setting up for the computer, I thought I had it figured out until I did some more reading :eek:

    Cheers for the help so far, it is much appreciated.
     
  17. Wilzard macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Just one partition. I used Memeo Life-Agent to backup my hard drive. That's pretty much it, I didn't create a disk image, I just tried to use the hard drive copy. I thought it'd boot since that's what it uses on the internal drive.

    BTW, the backup program blows, I can't get it to restore anything.
     
  18. BlueRevolution macrumors 603

    BlueRevolution

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    #18
    Hmm, it doesn't sound like that app makes bootable backups. (If it does so, it doesn't advertise as such.) Try Carbon Copy Cloner and you should have no trouble.

    Which blows? Memeo?
     
  19. sickmacdoc macrumors 68020

    sickmacdoc

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    #19
    Well one thing that may be keeping you from doing so is if the drive is not fomatted for booting on your particular type of Mac- with particular attention being paid to the "partition map scheme".

    If you have an Intel based Mac, it needs to be formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) using a "GUID" partition map scheme to boot and can be a USB or FireWire connected drive.

    If you have a PowerPC based Mac, you need a FireWire drive formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) with an "APM" partition map scheme.

    If your drive is still formatted as most drives come out of the box with a PC format (either FAT32 or NTFS) and uses the standard PC "MBR" partition scheme then neither CCC or SuperDuper will be able to make the drive bootable where they both can easily if the drive is formatted correctly.
     
  20. Narcosynthesis thread starter macrumors member

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  21. Horst Guest

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    Jan 10, 2006
    #21
    I'm using TM just for the fun of it, and for serious backups SuperDuper.

    Like TM, the initial backup takes a while with SD, after that the update of your SD clone takes some minutes each time (Smart Update).

    Unlike SD, you get a bootable system clone, which I'm using a lot.

    Also, if you work with large files a lot, TM will fill up its drive very quickly, and I find the lack of customization options annoying.
     
  22. Narcosynthesis thread starter macrumors member

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    #22
    If I use SD to make a bootable clone, that would mean in the event of a HDD crash, I could boot from the external drive, and then to get my system working on a new drive I can just copy the data across to the new HDD? Or would it still be practical to keep a TM image of the system itself (without files) so that I can reload the system from there (after I have gotten a new HDD, and been using my SD boot in the meantime)?

    Basically is it worth running TM alongside SD? they will both be sharing a drive that is the same size as the internal one, so space is an issue with the way TM works when the drive fills up, so should I keep a basic TM image alongside the SD, and is it worth creating a bootable clone?
     
  23. Narcosynthesis thread starter macrumors member

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  24. BlueRevolution macrumors 603

    BlueRevolution

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    #24
    If you only have as much space on the external drive as you do on the intern, an incremental backup like Time Machine doesn't make sense.

    You can use SuperDuper to clone as many times as you want, so you can boot to your cloned backup and then clone that onto your new drive. Is that what you were wondering?
     
  25. Narcosynthesis thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 21, 2008
    #25
    So with a bootable clone I can really do exactly the same as with time machine? just with more versatility and one complete backup.

    Thinking about it though, time machine should really be enough to work with - if I have it right it creates a system backup, then updates it incrimentally, and if I do reach the limits of having 1:1 drive space, it will just start wiping the older data and leave me with a current full backup. The only thing it doesn't give me is a bootable clone (which I can live with, though I might put a small clone on another drive (used for other data, but I can put aside a bit of space for a simple clone) for safekeeping).
     

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