Please convince me that Time Machine is not a piece of crap

pocketrockets

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 24, 2006
74
0
So I tried using TM for the first time today with my 250gb Western Digital Mybook but it wanted me to reformat the drive. Well I obviously can't do that because I already have about 60gb of important files on my external that are no longer on my computer.

Another question I have is how does backup work? If my laptop is using 50gb, will my external HD consume an additional 50gb each time it backs up? So in theory I'd only be able to backup 3-4 times? In other words for example, will I have 3-4 copies of the same picture or music file? OR does it overwrite, so that I'll only have 50 gb used on my external at all times.

What I don't understand is, what's the point of using Time Machine if I can manually back up my system whenever I want (just copy and paste the Macintosh HD into my external HD). People seem to rave about Time Machine. But IMO time machine seems time costly and inefficient.

Convince me otherwise. Tell me what I need to do. I'm all eyes and ears. Thanks.
 

~J~

macrumors 6502
Jul 27, 2007
447
0
3rd Rock from the sun
1. Not sure why TM wanted to reformat your drive... hopefully someone else can answer that part.

2. TM will do an initial backup of everything on your HD. After that, it does a differential backup, which means it only backs up what has changed since the last backup - not your entire HD every time.

3. TM is good because it takes care of backing up your system for you, you dont have to "remember" to do it manually. It will backup automatically, so you have a less chance of really using a file.

Hope that helps at least a little to clarify things for you. Keep in mind, as Leopard is updated, more options will likely be added to TM and other components of the OS. Even if it doesnt fit your needs at the moment, it may in the near future (its rumored that 10.5.1 will be released in the next 2-4 weeks).

[EDIT]: Here's how TM keeps backups:

-Hourly for the past 24 hours --> 24 differential ("diffs") backups, this then turns into your ONE "daily" backup
-Daily for the past month --> ~30 daily backups, turns into ~4 weekly BUs
-Weekly until BUD is full --> Will replace your oldest weekly backup with a new one... and keep rotating: oldest out, newest in, etc
 

Darwin

macrumors 65816
Jun 2, 2003
1,082
0
round the corner
concerning it asking you to format....is it in HFS+ already? It needs to be.
Time Machine seems to require the use of the GUID Partition Table, while the format is fine the reformat changes the partition map scheme. Older formats used the Apple Partition Map.
 

rhoydotp

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2006
467
74
funny how people complain about a piece of software that they got for a very cheap price.

what time machine is doing is somewhat a combination of technology that has been out in the enterprise world. there might be better alternatives but let me know how much you would pay for "synthetic backup", "de-duplication", "scheduling" and "gui-based restores" ...

so my answer: it is not a piece of crap, but it has its limits.
 

Maui

macrumors 6502a
May 18, 2007
869
0
So I tried using TM for the first time today with my 250gb Western Digital Mybook but it wanted me to reformat the drive. Well I obviously can't do that because I already have about 60gb of important files on my external that are no longer on my computer.
As the TM documentation and just about every TM review make clear, TM requires the entire partition. If you want to keep other, non-TM-material on your external drive, you need to create a new partition.

Another question I have is how does backup work? If my laptop is using 50gb, will my external HD consume an additional 50gb each time it backs up? So in theory I'd only be able to backup 3-4 times? In other words for example, will I have 3-4 copies of the same picture or music file? OR does it overwrite, so that I'll only have 50 gb used on my external at all times.
I'd start with the very good Apple Insider review.

What I don't understand is, what's the point of using Time Machine if I can manually back up my system whenever I want (just copy and paste the Macintosh HD into my external HD). People seem to rave about Time Machine. But IMO time machine seems time costly and inefficient.
TM is automatic. If you believe that copying your data manually provides you with more protection, go for it. It would seem to me, though, that having to go copy everything manually every hour would be a bigger pain. TM is what it is. It is not the perfect backup solution for every user, and it has well-publicized limitations. You'll have to decide whether it works for you. Just be sure you have some backup solution, TM or otherwise.
 

TheZA

macrumors regular
Sep 14, 2007
174
0
OK: "Time Machine is the best new feature in Leopard, perhaps the best feature ever added to Mac OS X."
-Arstechnica
If I could get the ***** thing to work with some ease (I've reformatted, renamed, erased, rebotted, re-installed) I might agree with that, otherwise I'm on the "its a piece of crap" side. Silverkeeper is working fine.
 

SomeMacGuy

macrumors member
Oct 27, 2007
58
40
Nova Scotia
Time machine has saved my ass already. I installed a handful of fonts and one of them started crashing Photoshop. I restored my fonts folder from the day before through Time Machine. Problem solved.:cool:
 

THX1139

macrumors 68000
Mar 4, 2006
1,928
0
Time Machine is working perfect for me. No fuss, no muss... it just worked as advertised.
 

Hobbit6003

macrumors member
Jun 8, 2007
57
0
Other than the occasional times that somehow the back disk doesn't want to mount, TM is working fine for me.

What I do when the disk doesn't want to mount, is to disconnect both the FW cable and turn off the power supply to the HD, and then reconnect. So far, this always works.
 

iDave

macrumors 6502a
Aug 14, 2003
887
14
I'm not impressed so far either. TM has so far failed to complete a backup (about 100GB). After subsequent attempts which all failed due to errors, I've reformatted the backup drive again and am starting over. All of this lowers my confidence level, even if the program eventually succeeds in its initial backup.
 

lambda

macrumors newbie
Aug 5, 2003
4
0
Hm, I've been pretty happy with Time Machine so far. I'm not sure why everyone else has been having so many problems. It didn't require a reformat; it doesn't seem to care about the partition map (I'm using MBR for compatibility with Windows and Linux), though it does require the partition be HFS+. The one problem I've had is that it's slow; it took something like 2 and a half hours to back up 35 gigs of material, and the next day it took something like an hour and a half to back up just a gig or two of differences (updated the developer documentation, which is thousands of files). I've found it to be quite robust; when I was first doing the backup, I accidentally bumped my firewire cable to my backup disk, unmounting the disk and halting the backup. When I plugged it in again and Time Machine ran the next time, it just cleaned up and continued from where it had stopped.

To answer the original question, it does incremental backups, so it won't take up 50GB times the number of backups. It achieves this by using hard links, so even though it takes incremental backups, it looks on disk like several separate copies of the contents of your disk. The fact that it is all stored as regular files makes me very happy, since it means that even if the Time Machine software breaks, I can still access all of my files, and if I can't find something, I can always use any tools I want to look through all of the old backups to try and find it.

So far, Time Machine has seemed like a great piece of software to me, other than the speed.
 

Woochifer

macrumors 6502a
Apr 22, 2007
685
0
Well, this piece of crap already saved my hide not long after the Leopard upgrade when my drive suddenly stopped reading the file system. Losing the file system locked up the computer and upon reboot all I would get is a blank screen. Disk Utility could not repair the file system and other restoration utilities like Tech Tool have not been fully tested for Leopard.

Fortunately, I had completed the initial Time Machine backup, so I restored the entire drive volume using TM. After picking the point in time I wanted for the drive restoration, the operation started up and took about 2 hours. Other file restoration programs I've used for Windows like GoBack don't take nearly as long, but GoBack wouldn't necessarily work with a corrupted file system and other less user-friendly options would take just as much time to restore a volume from an external backup. After restoring the drive volume, the computer has worked fine (and boots up much faster than with Tiger).

Unlike some other backup programs I've used, TM is very simple, requires minimal user intervention, and is good for both recovering a failed drive volume and quickly restoring individual files.
 

Hobbit6003

macrumors member
Jun 8, 2007
57
0
I just realised that a folder containing my movies which I bought over iTunes, or converted mpeg 4 files from DVD, always goes missing after abcking up for a day!

It has happened consistently over the past 3 days, and anyone knows why only this folder is affected and not others?
 

jbardi

macrumors member
Aug 18, 2005
50
0
Just my 2 cents worth... a lot of the problems people may be having with TM could be directly related to their system itself. Many upgrades to Leopard worked, but were done on systems with lots of hacks, unclean drives (didn't verify disk), did not perform permissions repairs before upgrading, have incompatible or corrupt plist files in their preferences folder, etc.

Many, many, many, many, many people have had perfect installs, no bugs, no blue screens, no errors, no crashing programs, TM works perfectly, and then there are people who have problem after problem after problem and simply want to talk about what a piece of crap this feature is or that feature is and how Leopard was rushed.

Well, maybe you rushed into the upgrade without taking preventative maintenance steps and backing up to begin with... try making sure your system itself isn't hosed, because errors on your drive will cause TM to error out during a backup as well. Not necessarily a problem with TM, but you really aren't giving it much to work with.
 

Currawong

macrumors newbie
Oct 21, 2005
19
3
Fukuoka, Japan (was Australia)
Just my 2 cents worth... a lot of the problems people may be having with TM could be directly related to their system itself. Many upgrades to Leopard worked, but were done on systems with lots of hacks, unclean drives (didn't verify disk), did not perform permissions repairs before upgrading, have incompatible or corrupt plist files in their preferences folder, etc.

Many, many, many, many, many people have had perfect installs, no bugs, no blue screens, no errors, no crashing programs, TM works perfectly, and then there are people who have problem after problem after problem and simply want to talk about what a piece of crap this feature is or that feature is and how Leopard was rushed.

Well, maybe you rushed into the upgrade without taking preventative maintenance steps and backing up to begin with... try making sure your system itself isn't hosed, because errors on your drive will cause TM to error out during a backup as well. Not necessarily a problem with TM, but you really aren't giving it much to work with.
You need to "Repair Disk" as it's labelled in disk utility on any hard drive you're upgrading the system on, as errors it fixes could seriously cause data corruption. Repairing permissions will be reset by installing a new system anyway, so it's redundant voodoo that 99% of people who suggest it don't understand. What breaks system upgrades is old, 3rd party software.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.