time machine backup question

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by afteryouwho, Dec 25, 2011.

  1. afteryouwho macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    #1
    Hope someone can give me a good answer to this. It is two part.

    The first part involves Time Machine and Super Duper. I am a long-time user of SD but it has stopped working properly and won't backup my computer at the moment. (Waiting for response from SD). So I did a backup to an external hd using Time Machine. No problem there so far.
    I am going to buy an AirBook for traveling and would like to transfer SOME of my files and programs to it. Can I do this with Time Machine? As I understand from this forum (I searched before posting this!) you can't boot from Time Machine like you can with SuperDuper.

    Second confusion: As I backup to an external hd and Time Machine seems to want to backup constantly, do I have to keep the external hd always connected or will I be asked to connect it when TM wants to backup?

    Thanks for any clarification on this.
     
  2. flynz4, Dec 25, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011

    flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #3
    Q1: Setup assistant and Migration assistant will let you move your programs, but as far as I know, you cannot selectively choose which applications you want to move. If you are only bringing a few applications over, you might want to just install the few you want. If you are bringing most applications over, you might be better off letting SM install them all, and then remove the few you do not want.

    As far as data... I have (what I believe is) a far better solution. On your current computer, install dropbox to keep all of the data that you would ever want while traveling. That way, when you get your MBA, the data will migrate to it automatically... and any changes you make while traveling will be instantly reflected back to your home machine.

    There are a few other things that make using an MBA as a secondary machine very easy. I would suggest only using IMAP email... that way your inbox (and folders) will all remain synchronized across all of your machines at all times. As you move from machine to machine, you will always see the most current state of your email. The second thing you might do is use iTunes Match... that way your music collection will sync between devices and you can always have whatever subset of your music you choose to listen to without deciding in advance.

    Q2: The problem with backing up to an external drive with any laptop is that the backup only occurs when the drive is attached... which defeats one of the greatest advantages of having a laptop IMHO. I think it is much better to back up to some type of network storage. I use Apple Time Capsules just because it is so painless and automatic. Whenever I am home, my laptops back up every hour. As previously mentioned, when traveling, my data is in dropbox anyway... and it is immediately synchronized back home to my iMac.

    Finally... my iMac is always on 24/7 (I even kept it running during a 10 week trip). That machine is double backed up both locally in the house... and via the cloud using Crashplan+. With this setup... any data changes that either my wife or I do on our MBAs, are not only replicated back to the house... but also double backed up automatically.

    Time Machine backs up every hour (there are no settings). I have CP+ set to back up every 15 minutes.

    The bottom line is that at any instant in time... we can take any (or all) of the computers we own (including those of our kids who are away at college)... and throw them into an incinerator... and within minutes (or a few hours for our iMac)... we could replicate our entire computer environment without losing any data.

    This backup scheme is so powerful that I have stopped cloning drives (SD/CCC/Ghost/Acronis) long ago. IMHO, cloning drives is an obsolete way of thinking about backup.

    /Jim
     
  3. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Location:
    located
    #4
    While your backup strategy sounds good, the above statement doesn't sit well with me.
    A cloned backup, especially of the OS disk, is much faster to recover from than a TM (Time Machine) backup*, and it is bootable, thus there is almost no downtime. But since my installations are rather large (10 to 15 GB of applications), a clone is just faster for my habits.
    And that is what it does come down to: habits and convenience. TM is a great software, and when it works, it is wonderful and great for consumers. But TM is not for everyone, especially people, where downtime is not good and a clone is just faster to backup from.


    * With a TM backup you have your data on an external HDD. In case of a HDD failure on the Mac (internal HDD), you can't easily access the TM backup, unless you have another Mac handy.
    A cloned backup would allow you immediate access due to it being bootable.

    Recovery does take a while for TM too. You have to insert the installation DVD and set it to restore from the TM backup, all the while the Mac is not usable.
    When you recover from a cloned backup, you boot from the cloned backup and clone it back to a new or repaired HDD and can use the Mac while doing so.
    And the transfer speed of a cloned backup is somehow faster than for a TM backup, even on the same interface.
     
  4. flynz4, Dec 26, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011

    flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #5
    True that you can boot from a cloned drive... but there is also a cost.

    With cloud or TM based backup, you machine is backed up at a very regular and short interval. For example, my CP+ performs a backup every 15 minutes... and finishes very quickly (within seconds usually). By contrast, cloning a drive can take hours if you do a full clone. For this reason... it is next to impossible to have a very frequent backup strategy using cloned drives. For a desktop... I suppose that it might be possible to rotate a new drive nightly, and let it complete overnight... but then you are a slave to your computer.

    Since I do have multiple machines... if I have a hard drive failure, it is simple to move to a different computer while the first is getting fixed. For me... there is almost zero value in being able to boot from a secondary drive to continue working. I'd rather just switch to a different computer.

    Even if I have to do a full recovery... it is still very quick. For example... I had a rev C MBA that had a faulty USB port. Since I rarely use USB devices, the machine was 2 months old before I realized the USB port didn't work. I brought it to the Apple Store, verified the USB port was DOA... wiped the SSD in the store, and then walked out with a new MBA. When I got home, I booted it, restored from my Time Capsule... and in less than 30 minutes had a fully restored MBA. Granted, it would take longer to restore my iMac because of the volume of data... but it would still restore overnight (worst case).

    Finally... a cloned drive is just a snapshot, and when re-clone the next night, revision history is lost. Incremental backups allow you to have access to virtually every version of a file, allowing you to recover from inadvertent changes or file deletions.

    So the question is: Is it worth it to me to have a multi-hour clone backup every night... in order to save an hour or two in the rare event that I need to rebuild? In my case... the answer is no. If you are in a production environment... then maybe it is worth it... but even then a better solution is probably to have more redundancy in your equipment... with multiple computers available and synchronized.

    I think for the vast majority of people and circumstances... cloning drives is an obsolete method of backup. If it works for you... then great. I still think it is a dying trend, especially as drives get larger, and cloning time takes longer.

    /Jim
     
  5. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Location:
    located
    #6
    I use CarbonCopyCloner with a setting to copy only files, that have been changed, thus sometimes a backup only takes a minute or two, and CCC allows scheduled backups, and I set it to a daily backup, as the files on my internal SSDs are not worth to be backed up every hour (I have DropBox for my really important and small documents), that is what I have external HDDs for.

    Anyway, it comes down to personal preference, and I got burned with TM several times (it was still new though, thus nowadays TM might work better), but the advantage of having a bootable clone is more important to me than the TM backups.

    I also have redundancy, my photos and digital video footage is backed up twice, thus I have three copies of it.
     
  6. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #7
    RE: Bolded section. I think that is very smart. I also have my machines double backed up. Once onsite, and once to the cloud.

    /Jim
     

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