How reliable is Time Machine?

komatsu

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 19, 2010
506
40
How reliable is Time Machine?

Ok, imagine this scenario. You want to do a clean-wipe of your OS X. You have 5 years of work on it.
You do a TM backup before the wipe. But wow confident are you that everything will restore? Has Time Machine every let you down or surprised you?
 
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CoastalOR

macrumors 68030
Jan 19, 2015
2,637
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Oregon, USA
Time Machine has let people down.
I use Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner to backup. Never have a single point failure. The beauty of having a clone is that I can be back up and running in a few minutes by booting to my external clone.
 
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komatsu

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 19, 2010
506
40
OK, just imagine you have a new OS X install.

With TM you use Migration Assistant.

But, with a clone (on an external USB drive) - how is this "imported"?
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,020
6,484
My advice:

DON'T use Time Machine.
Use CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper instead.
Either will create a fully-bootable clone of the existing drive, with everything in "plain old finder format".

Having said that...
... if you're looking to do a completely clean install of the OS, you would probably want to do it this way:
1. Create the bootable clone
2. Boot from the clone.
3. Re-initialize the internal drive
4. Install a fresh copy of the OS of your choice onto the internal drive.
5. At the close of the install, the setup assistant will ask if you wish to bring over existing accounts, apps, settings, and data. You can choose to do this, and it will migrate your existing (non OS related) stuff to the new install.

This should do what you're looking for.

If you want to be even more particular, you can skip the setup assistant and do a "manual migration" of selective items you wish to move over, but this is definitely more involved...
 
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Ebenezum

macrumors 6502a
Mar 31, 2015
782
259
If you search for Time Machine reliability on your favourite search engine you can find quite a lot of complaints about Time Machine reliability.

I am not saying you can't use Time Machine but I wouldn't rely it as a primary backup, only as an adjunct. In my experience its reliability leaves a lot to be desired and I have had too many problems with it.

Like other posters I would recommend making clone with either SupedDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner.
 
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komatsu

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 19, 2010
506
40
ok, so lets say, accounts, apps and settings are re-imported onto a fresh install of OS X, do you think it will start giving trouble on the fresh install also?

i.e. it is possible that problems from old set-up also imported?
 
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Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,151
9,826
California
ok, so lets say, accounts, apps and settings are re-imported onto a fresh install of OS X, do you think it will start giving trouble on the fresh install also?

i.e. it is possible that problems from old set-up also imported?
Yes... the entire point of a "clean install" is you erase and reinstall the OS then manually move only your data over and reinstall apps and manually reconfigure all your settings. Any use of Migration Assistant to import the account runs the risk of bringing back in a file or setting that was causing a problem.

That said, I am not a fan of the "clean install" as a cure all for Mac problems. 99% of the issues people are having can be fixed with a little troubleshooting and targeted fixes without going all through the clean install business.

Is there some specific issue you are having maybe we could help you fix?
 
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nkarafo

macrumors member
Oct 18, 2015
54
7
If I am not mistaken I have used Acronis but never actually used / tested it because it wasn't necessary. CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper are better than Acronis ? I was using on PC the Norton Ghost which was the best for me. I was searching for a similar program and that's why I chose Acronis because it backups the ENTIRE partition of the hard drive like Norton Ghost does. I have made a partition only for mac os and programs - around 100gb.
 
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makinao

macrumors regular
Dec 27, 2009
246
75
I've used it a few times for full restores (new machines, service center reformat, handing down machines, etc) since 10.5, and it hasn't failed me yet. As long as the hard disk is in good condition, time machine will work. I've also used CCC once, when I changed hd. Works too.
 
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Ebenezum

macrumors 6502a
Mar 31, 2015
782
259
As long as the hard disk is in good condition, time machine will work.
Unfortunately that is only true in theory.

In my experience Time Machine suffers from software problems even when the disk the physically fine. I had 2 different Time Machine disk fail to continue backups and all diagnostic software I used couldn't find any problems with the drives. Even filesystem was fine but still Time Machine wouldn't work.

Last instance was with El Capitan, reported it to Apple but they haven't been able to figure it out yet. That was the last straw and I am done with Time Machine for now. I might change my opinion if Apple seriously improves it but I am not holding my breath...
 
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Alrescha

macrumors 68020
Jan 1, 2008
2,157
315
Time Machine has let people down.
Carbon Copy Cloner has let people down.

with everything in "plain old finder format".
Time Machine backups are essentially in 'plain old finder format'.

If you search for Time Machine reliability on your favourite search engine you can find quite a lot of complaints about Time Machine reliability.
If you search for X in your favorite search engine, you can find a lot of complaints - including Carbon Copy Cloner.

Don't get me wrong, I think Bombich has created a fine product, but I also think Time Machine gets held to some different standard of perfection. i.e: some people have had problems with it therefore it is no good.

If you want a bootable backup, CCC is the way to go. But not everyone needs or wants such a thing (I do not, for instance). Just because you have a hammer, not everything is a nail.

It is certainly good to have multiple kinds of backup, and I think it is perfectly reasonable to have Time Machine be one of those.

A.
 
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nkarafo

macrumors member
Oct 18, 2015
54
7
I tried for once Time Machine and didn't work for me either. I think it's like the windows system restore which doesn't do much too...
 
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Ebenezum

macrumors 6502a
Mar 31, 2015
782
259
If you search for X in your favorite search engine, you can find a lot of complaints - including Carbon Copy Cloner.

Don't get me wrong, I think Bombich has created a fine product, but I also think Time Machine gets held to some different standard of perfection. i.e: some people have had problems with it therefore it is no good.
Yes but in this case the complains are coming from from reputable professionals, not just average users. Some examples:

https://joeontech.net/why-i-dont-rely-on-time-machine.html
http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/why-apples-time-machine-utterly-fails-user-needs
http://macperformanceguide.com/blog/2015/20151015_1404-OSX_ElCapitan-TimeMachine.html

While Apple has added ability to verify basic checksum in 10.11 Time Machine I am not certain that is enough. Maybe if Apple would give user real feedback about the status of Time Machine I might be able to trust it. Using Terminal to gather mysterious logs isn't my idea of user feedback... :mad:

I am not saying that everyone has problems with Time Machine, however my trust for it tends to shatter when backups fail and error messages aren't giving any clear indications why it is happening.
 
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Alrescha

macrumors 68020
Jan 1, 2008
2,157
315
Yes but in this case the complains are coming from from reputable professionals, not just average users.
Reputable professionals? Or tech writers on the bash-apple-software bandwagon? I am not saying they are lying, but let us not pretend they do not have their own motivations at heart.

I am not claiming that Time Machine is perfect. I am not saying that it is the only thing people ever need. I do think it is held to an unfair standard. Given the sheer number of people who use it, some problems are inevitable.

I have been using Time Machine since it was introduced and have never had any serious problems with it. Nor do I depend on it exclusively. Rule six is "Back it up", Rule seven is "Back it up again".

A.
 
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Fancuku

macrumors 65816
Oct 8, 2015
1,013
2,595
PA, USA
I've only been using OS X for roughly a year and I think I've used Time Machine 3 times to migrate my backup on a new clean install and it worked with no problems. TM is one of my favorite OS X features.
 
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Ebenezum

macrumors 6502a
Mar 31, 2015
782
259
Reputable professionals? Or tech writers on the bash-apple-software bandwagon? I am not saying they are lying, but let us not pretend they do not have their own motivations at heart.

I am not claiming that Time Machine is perfect. I am not saying that it is the only thing people ever need. I do think it is held to an unfair standard. Given the sheer number of people who use it, some problems are inevitable.

I have been using Time Machine since it was introduced and have never had any serious problems with it. Nor do I depend on it exclusively. Rule six is "Back it up", Rule seven is "Back it up again".

A.
It seems you didn't read the links I provided, they can hardly be called "Apple bashers".

As for this discussion I think its time to agree to disagree.
 
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Isamilis

macrumors 6502a
Apr 3, 2012
719
135
In my experience, I never been let down, disappointed with Apple's TM. Even, I see it more flexible than the cloning alternatives. It's simple, the backup is easy to open directly by yourself, and it's transparent for us, and 'aware' on the free space in backup disk.
 
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Deane2000

macrumors member
Feb 18, 2014
46
19
Southern California
Time Machine has always worked well for me. I check it every once in a while to see it's doing what it's supposed to, and so far, so good. Thumbs up.
 
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