Time Machine: permission to view other user accounts

Discussion in 'macOS' started by redsteven, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. redsteven macrumors 6502a


    Aug 22, 2006
    BRIEF SUMMARY for the TL;DR crowd: How do I permanently unlock an old User Account on my Time Machine backup?

    For a number of reasons, I decided NOT to use Time Machine to restore my machine; instead I restored from a bootable backup I had.

    I "reused" the Time Machine disk with the new user account, and it works fine. I can also enter time machine to view my older files from before "the incident".

    But the folders in my old user account are locked. Specifically, I need some things from my 30 gigabyte Documents folder.

    There is one easy (but time-consuming) work-around. Even though I don't have permission to VIEW the files in the old documents folder, I can still "Restore" it. Then, I just choose to keep BOTH the old document folder (my new one) and the one I just restored. Now that I've got it in the Finder, I can use Get Info to change permissions and give myself access.

    But if I ever want to go back and get something from my old User folder, I have to restore 30+ gigs every single time, because until I have the whole folder in the finder (which means I have to restore the whole thing), I can't change permissions. (yes, I could keep an unlocked copy lying around on my hard drive, but if that copy is from May 9, it doesn't help me very much if I needed a file that used to be there on February 15, which is why we have Time Machine in the first place).

    Thanks in advance.
  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I've found Time Machine to be less than robust. First of all, my gen 1 Time Capsule died taking 3 machines' data with it. One of those 3 machines later experienced total data loss and was never able to be completely restored.

    Second of all, several of my issues with Time Machine were turned in to Apple engineering by level 2 support and showed up in OS X updates around 2009. One such issue was corruption of the destination volume due to the machine going to sleep during the backup if the backup was wireless. For this issue, after spending hours on the phone with support trying various disk repairs on the destination drive, I decided I really didn't need those old files and I unceremoniously deleted the TM backup and started over. This approach can work as long as you don't delete something you realize you need later. Most recently, I've had another few glitches. I had to "start over" after I installed a new hard drive. If I tried to back up to the previous destination, TM kept "indexing" and never actually made it through the new backup.

    Bottom line: Don't depend on Time Machine as your only means of backup or at least use TM to backup to multiple locations. This is cumbersome because the only way to switch is to stop TM, pick a different destination and pick "use this disk" and wait through the initial "seeding" of all the files that have changed since the last time you used this disk for backup. For now, I use TM for daily backup by using Timemachineeditor.app to only back up at 1:30 am. My second line of defense is a crashplan account. My third line of defense is MobileMe soon to be iCloud or perhaps dropbox. Everything gets sent to TM. Only some things get sent to crashplan and the fewest things get sent to MobileMe/dropbox.

    To return to your topic, restore all 30 gig of that stuff now. Change permissions on it and make it yours then let it get added to your own TM backup and you won't ever again have to go back and restore all 30 gigs of it just to get one file. I also suggest you use something along with Time Machine so you have another line of defense. TM is not robust enough to be your "only" backup. Don't believe me? Just keep leaving your "only copy" of that stuff the way it is and it is quite possible that the next time you decide to restore that 30 gigs of stuff to go looking for one file you discover it's somehow corrupted and you can't restore any of it at all.
  3. redsteven thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Aug 22, 2006
    I keep multiple copies of my essential files, but I've used Time machine flawlessly for almost 2 years now (with 2 hard drives... upgraded to a larger one about a month ago), and retrieved many files with it. I love it.

    It's not perfect, and multiple backups are always good (I use my iDisk for important stuff, and when I get home from school every 4 months I leave a backup on my old iMac there), but it's certainly worked well so far.

    I certainly appreciate your advice, but would like to continue using Time Machine and just figure out how to "unlock" or somehow enter a password for my old user account so I can get CONVENIENT access to those files through Time Machine's normal interface.

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