Time Machine Backups not so reliable?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by spaceballl, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. spaceballl macrumors 68030

    spaceballl

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    San Francisco, CA
    #1
    So I just replaced my drive with an SSD. I'll post a topic about that later, but for now I want to limit this discussion to the migration from drive to drive. I should have just gone with the cloning approach from the beginning, but I was curious to try out a time machine recovery.

    So before performing the upgrade, I made sure that my Time Machine Drive had the most recent backups of everything. I swapped the drives and installed Leopard from the install DVD. When it prompted me to recover from time machine, I started the recovery. Everything finished successfully. When I rebooted the computer, some thing seemed a bit weird. My mouse sensitivity was different and my "stack" was showing the icons, instead of the folder like it usually does. I realized that I was no longer on 10.5.6. I was on 10.5.0, obviously. So I performed all the software updates. I restarted and there were a few more software updates. Updated those too. Okay now surely, I was good to go.

    I was able to make my "stack" back into a folder and I could fix my mouse sensitivity (I think the reason why it went wonky was due to the addition of the trackpad pref pane in 10.5.6 and the lack of it in 10.5.0). Safari booted up fine. Then I clicked on Firefox. The icon bounced once, but no app. Weird... I figured maybe there was some sort of permissions error. I deleted firefox and reinstalled it. Same issue... Then I tried to start up Entourage. I got an error about not having proper permissions. I googled the issue and it looks like other people have had errors with Time Machine backups and Entourage.

    iPhoto, iTunes, and the rest of the iLife apps booted without issue, but at this point, two of my most important apps weren't working. I was worried that there were more issues under the covers.

    So I did what I should have done from day 1. I restarted w/ disk utility, wiped out the SSD, and performed a restore from my old drive to my new drive. No issues.

    Since it was just a block-for-block drive copy, the computer booted just fine, my apps (including firefox and entourage) worked just fine.

    In any case, I haven't been keeping a bootable backup of my computer. I just use Time Machine and I've always assumed that would be sufficient. I'm now thinking about grabbing a larger external drive and using a program like superduper or carbon copy cloner to keep a bootable copy on the backup drive as well.

    Just wanted to share my experiences...
     
  2. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

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    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #2
    Thanks for this cautionary tale. I use automatic Time Machine backups but I also do an occasional SuperDuper! backup to another external drive. It was basically superstitious behavior, since I wasn't sure the SuperDuper! backups were really of any use. Now I think they are.
     
  3. mrkgoo macrumors 65816

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    Aug 18, 2005
    #3
    Interesting. I assume you installed 10.5.0 and did a recovery. This only does user directories and applications? Is it possible to do a complete recovery of system files onto a new computer using Time Machine? If not, TM just became a little bit more useless to me.
     
  4. spaceballl thread starter macrumors 68030

    spaceballl

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    #4
    Well, yes and no - time machine cannot stand on its own. To do a "complete recovery" you need the OS X DVD or the DVDs that came with your computer. Doing a "clone" of your system and then restoring from it will give you an exact copy of the machine from when you last ran the clone.
     
  5. sidewinder macrumors 68020

    sidewinder

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    #5
    mrkgoo,

    You assumption is correct. The proper way to have done this would have been to boot the Install DVD and then used the "Restore System from Backup..." command. That would have put the system back the way it was (although not a direct clone).

    I manage a data center and manage backups of all types. I find Time Machine to be anything but useless.

    S-
     
  6. drlunanerd macrumors 65816

    drlunanerd

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    Location:
    UK
    #6
    Yep. Appears the OP didn't do this.

    The best way to test a backup system is to restore using it. All the nervous posters chanting Time Machine voodoo could maybe, erm, try this? :)
     
  7. mrkgoo macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    #7
    Interesting.

    But it CAN be done, right? So the procedure, if I say, bought a new mac, would be:

    1) Install Mac OS X
    2) boot using install discs
    3) Restore from back up

    ? Is that the only way to 'clone' from Time machine onto a new machine?

    Thanks for the input.
     
  8. sidewinder macrumors 68020

    sidewinder

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Northern California
    #8
    New Mac? I would not use Time Machine to restore to a new Mac unless it was the same kind of Mac. My procedure below assumes no change in system type. Basically we are restoring a back up to a new drive on the same system.

    You're procedure has an extra step that should be avoided. Here is the procedure (abbreviated to match the same detail you used):

    1) Boot using install disc
    2) Restore from backup

    S-
     
  9. Chase R macrumors 65816

    Chase R

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    PDX
    #9
    If you buy a new Mac. You would want to boot from the Leopard DVD, format the HDD (erase it) and the, in the "Utilities" drop-down menu in the MenuBar, click "Restore From Backup...".

    Here is a link to a write-up: http://duncandavidson.com/2008/01/restoring-from-time-machine.html
     
  10. mrkgoo macrumors 65816

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    #10
    Sorry guys, I guess that is what I meant. I foresee myself getting a new harddrive in future and wanting to upgrade by this method. Good to know it IS possible. For the record does changing a harddrive on an non-unibody MBP void warranty? Because if I want to change this, maybe I SHOULDN'T get Applecare?
     
  11. Chase R macrumors 65816

    Chase R

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    #11
    New MacBook or new HDD... it's still the same steps to restore from a Time Machine backup. And a new HDD won't void your warranty.
     
  12. spaceballl thread starter macrumors 68030

    spaceballl

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    #12
    FYI all,

    the "proper" way you described a restore is what I did. It did report a 100% succesful restore from Time Machine. I'm just letting you know that after the store, there were major permissions problems and that Entourage would not work properly. You can google the Entourage / Time Machine issue for more info. Others have had the same problem.

    Don't get me wrong, I still love me some time machine, and it has worked successfully for me about 3 other times. But the fact that it didn't work once for me is motivating me to upgrade my external drive to something larger and keep a bootable copy of my drive in case things go bad.
     
  13. raxafarian macrumors regular

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    Jun 8, 2007
    #13
    Plus you can't boot off a time machine backup. So if your drive dies you're out of business until you get a new drive.

    I use time machine and superduper.
     
  14. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    #14
    If you bought a new Mac to replace an identical old model, or if you just replaced the hard drive in your existing computer, you just use steps (2) and (3): Boot using install discs, restore from Time Machine backup.
     
  15. acurafan macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 16, 2008
    #15
    i always clone/image my backups. i don't trust file backups (unless i know i want non-OS files restored) for full system recovery, mac or windows. guess i am paranoid.

    will have to give superduper a try on my new macbook.
     
  16. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #16
    Or Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC). Works well.

    I am leery of TM backups. Prefer clones.
     
  17. mrkgoo macrumors 65816

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    #17
    Are you sure it doesn't void warranty? I have to do some serious removing of panels to get at the hard drive of the non-unibody MBP.
     
  18. CLuv macrumors 6502

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    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    #18
    No issues here with a Time Machine restoration. I just swapped out my stock 120GB with the new Seagate 500GB drive. Before the swap, ran one last Time Machine backup.

    Popped in the drive, booted from Leopard DVD (10.5.0), formatted the drive, and then from utilities I selected Restore from system backup. Restore wipes the target drive (nothing on it since it was new), and it did it's thing.

    Booted up my system, just like it was on the old drive (minus the Windows partition for obvious reasons). No updates needed, OS version was 10.5.6 just like it was on the old drive.

    Took approximately an hour to restore ~70GB of data. I've found Time Machine to be reliable on this occasion and on another occasion when OS X was flaking on my parents iMac.
     
  19. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #19
    I think that was the problem. You should not have installed Leopard from the DVD. Just boot and run from the DVD and then do the restore onto a blank hard drive.

    I think what you did was to install 10.5.0 and then do a restore. A restore likely is un-able to overwrite the active OS.
     
  20. drlunanerd macrumors 65816

    drlunanerd

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    #20
    But that's not what you said:
    IIRC after you do a Leopard install it prompts if you'd like to use the Migration Assistant to transfer any data, and an option is to use Time Machine. It does not prompt you before install to recover from Time Machine.

    Come on now, admit this is what you did :p :D

    Completely agree that a good backup strategy to use a combination of Time Machine and cloning, e.g. SuperDuper.
     
  21. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #21
    I do the same. I restore TM backups of the 'ready to use but devoid of data' setup when putting my machines IN for Applecare because if it doesn't work I don't care, but I restore Superduper backups when getting it BACK. TM is not bad, but it's not flawless by any means.
     
  22. spaceballl thread starter macrumors 68030

    spaceballl

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    #22
    Good point - I did this. However, I've done 2 to 3 successful backups like this before, and I didn't see Apple recommending that I do it differently up to that point, so not sure how this is "improper." It should work just fine using the migration assistant. It should import all of my user data. It did that, but there were permissions errors and funny behavior. So was there another way I could do it? Yes. Was my way proper too? yes. Did it work properly? no. Like I said, I've done many successful recoveries like this before, but this one failed...

    There is no way to say that doing it your way wouldn't have caused a failure. They still go through the exact same process, you see. The DVD installs the OS and the data is brought in from Time Machine. Time Machine doesn't store the OS.

    Anywho, I still like my Time Machine... I'm just going to be using Superduper as well.
     
  23. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

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    Nov 25, 2005
    #23
    My Time Machine backup includes the OS. Did you setup your Time Machine manually to not backup the OS?

    Replacing the hard drive doesn't void the warranty, if you do it right. However, any damage that _you_ do while replacing it is not covered. And with the old MBP, I can very much understand if you wouldn't want to exchange the hard drive yourself. I wouldn't. White/black MacBook, no problem, I've done it and it is easy. New MacBooks and MacBook Pros, I am told it is easy. Old MacBook Pro, not a job for me.
     
  24. spaceballl thread starter macrumors 68030

    spaceballl

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    #24
    Well, it looks like i'm just "wrong" on this one... You're right... it does include the OS... I wonder why it can't be made bootable! Hmmm okie well I did google "time machine permissions" and I do see that many other people have had permissions errors after a time machine recovery.

    That being said, there is another way to try next time...

    But the conclusion still remains that one bad backup has scarred me a bit... so I'm going to keep backups w/ superduper as well :D
     

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