So can Time Machine actually back up external drives too, or what?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by bpetruzzo, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. bpetruzzo macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2005
    #1
    I had a bit of an issue yesterday where an external drive was incapacitated for some time. It had some really important data on it which I was under the impression Time Machine was backing up. All of the Time Machine settings pointed to this being the case.

    But of course, when the drive is no longer active, I couldn't get to those backed up files when browsing Time Machine. I didn't have the time to dig around trying to figure out how to do it. So I just took advantage of the AppleCare I paid for and called the support line.

    The tech on the phone practically swore on his mother's grave that Time Machine would NOT backup external drives, but only the internal drive. Not convinced, I argued with him for a few minutes explaining that if that was the case, it almost seems like the Apple developers were involved in some kind of horrible joke to make the software look in every way like it would. Trying to assure me of my error, he put me on hold for 5 minutes or so and came back and said he confirmed with another tech that the software wasn't designed to do that and if it was, he didn't know why. Sheesh.

    Of course, even a quick search of Google for "Will Time Machine back up an external drive" returns lots of results of people saying it will.

    So my question is this, who's right here, the Apple Tech or Google? Is anyone here actively using Time Machine to back up an external drive? And if so, once your external drive is incapacitated, how do you retrieve those files from the backup?
     
  2. spinnerlys Guest

    spinnerlys

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    forlod bygningen
    #2
    I have backed up some external drives when using Time Machine, but your question about retrieving those data, when the drive is not connected, seems to be hitting a valid point, as I never found to be able to browse the external drive's backup once the drive is not connected, so I would also like to know, how to view the contents in such cases.


    PS: wow, one sentence of drivel of mine.
     
  3. adm531 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    #3
    I can confirm that you can back up on an external HD but you can only pull files from it via time machine only when the device is actually connected to the computer. When i try to restore stuff without it, i get a message saying the backup data could not be found, please connect the external HD.

    hope this helps
     
  4. spinnerlys Guest

    spinnerlys

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    #4
    But isn't that a ridiculous behaviour?

    The whole purpose of Time Machine is to restore data, when data is lost, and one of the ways data getting lost is when an external drive is kaputt/broken and won't mount properly.

    There has to be a way of restoring data.

    I currently don't back up an external drive via TM, but can someone who does, browse the backup folder on the TM drive, when the backed up external drive is nor connected, to see if one at least could manually restore data?

    [​IMG]
     
  5. misterredman macrumors 6502a

    misterredman

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    #5
    How did you try that? Did you go into Time Machine, select the data to restore and use the "Restore 'item' to ..." action?

    I read that you can see the disc if you go back in time after selecting your computer icon on the left of the window in Time Machine (until you find the time when hard drive was connected during the backup). Then using the above command it should be possible to restore to a different location (aka the new external drive)é
     
  6. bpetruzzo thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2005
    #6
    Yes, that behavior is absolutely ridiculous. Unless the software lets your restore stuff it's only marginally useful in the event that you accidentally delete something or overwrite something. I can save a lot of money on backup storage by just being careful if that's all it does. I back things up in the event of hardware failure. Yeah, it's dumb.

    I was just now browsing the backup disk manually and can find the files. But because Time Machine is a little obscure on how it decides to backup duplicate files based on modifications and changes to the file, it's kind of hard to decide what backups I need. The file structure is really made to be browsed using Time Machine.

    Ugh, that's so dumb. Why can't Time Machine just recognize that at the time of a given backup I had an external drive attached and so give me access to it, regardless of whether it's currently attached.

    Gosh. How can Apple hire geniuses for some things, but chimps for others.
     
  7. Dimwhit macrumors 68000

    Dimwhit

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    #7
    You should be able to buy a new external drive, name it same as the old, then access and restore the data. At least I would hope so. Otherwise the data isn't really backing up since there's NO way to restore.

    But yeah, you should be able to restore the external's back up files to your internal in the case of a dead external drive.
     
  8. spinnerlys Guest

    spinnerlys

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  9. bpetruzzo thread starter macrumors regular

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    Oct 22, 2005
    #9
    Solved the problem completely.

    1. The tech at apple was an idiot. Time Machine definitely backs up external drives. A simple stroll through the backup drive (without opening Time Machine) will prove that.

    2. To restore files backed up from an external drive drive when for whatever reason you can't actually plug that drive back in, you just need a new volume with the same name as the original. This could be a new external drive with the same name, OR you can easily create a disk image using Disk Utility with that volume name.

    In Leopard, just open Disk Utility, click on the "New Image" icon at the top, name it whatever you want. Place it on the desktop or wherever and make sure you enter the original backed up drive's name as the "volume name". When it's done, just open time machine. You'll see your disk image on the left (if it's already mounted). Now you can explore the time machine backups from the original drive using the new disk image you created. Any restorations will be delivered to the disk image on your desktop.

    It's so easy, I'm pretty frustrated that the tech couldn't give me that. Really, Apply?

    Anyway, I hope this helps some frustrated google surfer.
     
  10. Dimwhit macrumors 68000

    Dimwhit

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    Apr 10, 2007
    #10
    That's a really good way to restore the external drive to your main hard drive. Thanks bpetruzzo!
     
  11. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    .. London ..
    #11
    Very cool!

    I agree, it should be MUCH more obvious.
     

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