Time Machine basics?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Tumbleweed666, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. Tumbleweed666 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2009
    Location:
    Near London, UK.
    #1
    A few questions -

    1. In all the tutorials/explanations of TM I have seen, I haven't seen reference to reverting my entire system back to a particular date/time, it always seems to be about restoring individual files or folders. Is a 'time reversion' possible? Say if I screw something up big time, maybe a bad app install or whatever, can I 'go back to 2 hours ago' or to whatever the last consistent set of files is, or to whatever arbitrary points in time there are available?

    2. Are there lists anywhere of files & folders that I should be excluding as "good practice"? As a would-be newbie to mac I would have no idea what would be a good idea to exclude and what wouldn't. I don't even know what there is yet.

    3. Rule of thumb, whats a reasonable size for a TM disk? I will have an iMac with 640GB disk but probably only probably 100-200GB of my data to start, I have a 500Gb external disk I can use, does that seem like a reasonable choice?

    4. This 500GB volume is currently NTFS formatted, what do I need to do to make it 'mac compatible' for TM use assuming I've saved any data off it? Or will Mac offer me the opportunity to read it (to get the data off it) and then later 'mac format it'?

    As a side benefit of moving to Mac that gives me a good opportunity to get rid of many years accumulated cr*p on my PC (including Windows before anyone points that out :)
     
  2. BobZune macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
    USA
    #2
    1. It is a live backup -- so if you delete a file accidentally off your machine, you can reclaim it from the latest backup. This is what TM is advertised heavily for, and is a very useful feature. 'Time reversion' of the whole system is possible, but only to the latest TM state (not to an arbitrary time of your choosing). For this, you boot with the OS DVD, and tell it to restore from TM backup.

    2. Exclude big files that you can make small changes to. These include Virtual Machines, Entourage, and other large files. You can also possibly exclude your download folders and others you don't want backed up. Do a websearch and you'd see different opinions.

    3. General rule of thumb for TM disk is twice the size of the disk you want to back up. In your case, your sizes seem pretty reasonable (even if they don't fall into the rule of thumb). As the main disk files up more and more, you may want to consider a bigger TM disk in the future.

    4. Save the data off the disk. Then I'd recommend partitioning using GUID partition table (over here for some hints -- http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=650927 ) and HFS+ (no case sensitive) format. Start up time machine and point it at the drive. Note it will take a while to finish the first backup. Incremental backups after that will be quick. [The TM won't offer to save the data off that disk when you point it at it -- it will tell you it can format it for you and you'd lose all data, so do the archive-old-data/partition-iin-GUID/formatHFS+ steps manually.]

    You don't have to take the default every-hour back up option. There are easy ways to change this time period. You can also turn the TM off in the options and back up manually (say once a day) by clicking on the TM icon on the dock or menu bar.
     
  3. Tumbleweed666 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2009
    Location:
    Near London, UK.
    #3
    Thanks for those replies , very useful, question about this first point.

    So reverting back some time previously other than the last state, is just not possible? Or necessary? Suppose a Mac updates screws something up (I'm presuming there are occasional update fixes?) , would that contain its own ability to backtrack? Perhaps I'm assuming I need XP 'system restore' type capability when the Mac doesn't need such a thing? Come to think of it I've only needed that after some sort of virus / malware.
     
  4. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon coast
    #4
    I'm getting familiar with TM myself... and I've restored a few individual files with no problem. I think whatever finder window you're in, if you go back you can restore folders, etc. I don't think it's supposed to serve as a cloning tool, but some folks have used it to restore things back to fairly close to where they were before... after doing a fresh OSX re-install.

    I've never had to do a system-wide restore, but if I did I'd use Carbon Copy Cloner - not TM. I use both, but I keep a clone of my HD on an external portable drive using Carbon Copy Cloner, which will do incremental backup to a disk image. This gives me an external, bootable drive that I can sync with my laptop pretty much daily, while TimeMachine points to a 3.5" HD on my desk which becomes the emergency data backup. It may be redundant, but it works.

    Carbon Copy Cloner
    and SuperDuper are both widely used backup and cloning utilities. I don't really favor one over the other.
     
  5. BobZune macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
    USA
    #5
    Good point about the ARCHIVES using CCC/SuperDuper, pdxflint. Those can make BOOTABLE disks.

    To Tumbleweed666's question: As for as I know, picking a different time to restore to (other than latest) is not possible in TM. In case of problems, hoping they are detected soon enough and before the next TM backup, you can revert back the the prior (latest TM time, not an arbitrary checkpoint version) state like previously mentioned (note you'd need the OS X DVD to start the restore - the CCC/SuperDuper disk will be immediately bootable, even if your system's hard drive it broken and won't boot the machine).

    It is always good to do a backup before system updates, then make sure things aren't broken before doing running TM again -- hence the idea about not running TM every hour, unless you need frequent backups). Macs don't have "functional" viruses -- and as for as malware goes, use safe 'net practices (you can search this site for various virus threads).

    A CCC/SuperDuper bootable archive in addition to TM would be a 'nice to have' if you place large value on your data (and an off site archive, updated periodically, if you have REALLY valuable data). Mac software updates don't have a built in ability to back out of that update (i.e., no uninstall).
     
  6. txhockey9404 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    #6
    Personally, I would invest in a 1TB drive to back that thing up. 640gb is not as much as you may think. They constantly get cheaper. A 1TB USB drive can be had for about $100 now. I thought that 250gb would be enough for me, and I am now up to well over 500gb (had to get an 2 externals). I do use a 750gb drive for backup though. Most of my data is also backed up on various iPods, computers, etc.
     

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