What exactly will a Time Machine Backup Restore to my machine? More than data files?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by MattBook-Pro, Jun 13, 2010.

  1. MattBook-Pro macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2010
    Boston MA
    I am sure this is a fairly common question but I am having a hard time finding out a straight answer to it. So I own a Mid 2009 15” MacBook pro and I love it, performance wise it is great with a 2.8 Core 2 Duo, 4 Gb of DDR3 1066 and the 9400/9600 GT Graphics are plenty to run my 30” monitor at 2560 x 1600 with ease. But of course there is a huge bottleneck in this machine and that is the Slowwwww 5400 RPM 500 Gb Fujitsu Hard Drive. I want to replace this drive with an 80 GB Intel X-18 SSD that I have acquired from an HP laptop that no longer needs it. The drive is a 1.8” micro SATA drive, but I purchased a 1.8” to 2.5” Caddy from NewModeUS for $35


    This not only takes care of the interface/power conversion it supports 3.3 Volt drives, which almost all SSDs are, but it also makes the 1.8” drive the exact same dimensions of a typical 2.5” drive. I have already tried it out in my desktop and it benchmarks just as this drive should, super fast! 80 Gb is plenty of storage for me on a laptop, I will keep all my media on the 500 Gb which I am going to put in an external enclosure and carry around in my bag at all times. So for right now I have most of the logistical hardware stuff figured out but where I need a little help is the migration.

    Sure I could reload everything from scratch but I would honestly rather not do that and the honestly the thought of doing it makes me put this project off every time just because I need the machine for work and cannot really afford to have it down for a few days, making this a weekend project. I am very particular about how my machines are setup as well and usually do a decent amount of customizations and tweaks to make the OS easier to use for me. In order to avoid a fresh start I was first very excited about the thought of cloning my existing drive onto my SSD using SuperDooper


    This seemed like the perfect solution, in theory everything would be the same when I installed the SSD and booted up, all my data, installed applications and settings would be untouched! Yay right, well then I started reading on some forums that for whatever reason cloning a mechanical drive onto an SDD in a no no and could cause issues, therefore the best bet to is to start with a fresh install of OSX. Damn! Can anyone prove that theory wrong? Has anyone cloned to an SSD before without any issues that you know of? Because I would love to go this route, but if not my plan B is to use my Time Machine back and restore that to my new install.

    Now this brings me to the question in the title of this thread, what exactly will Time Machine restore if I have a full up to date backup of my machine and I do as it runs regularly and backs up to a 32 GB SD card (For now until I outgrow it) that is always in my machine. I don’t have a ton of data; in fact my HDD only has 31 Gb used, while my Time Machine backup drive has 26 Gb used. That leads me to believe that most of the data is in that backup, I mean it does take a snapshot of your entire system so I don’t see why it would not be able to put that data back just as it backed it up, like a system image. While I know all my data and personal files will be restored what about installed applications? Will I need to reload all of them? Not the end of the world as I always save the installer but it does take time, esp. with things like the Adobe and Office Suites. How about settings, are certain ones remembered? I am talking about things like monitor configurations, wallpapers, dock shortcuts, color labels, background colors, Safari and Chrome Bookmarks, ect. The list could go on but I really just want to know what to expect if I install OSX fresh and then choose to restore from a Time Machine backup, I am sure it will save me a lot of time but may not be as ideal as using SuperDooper or CarbonCopy Cloner.
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)

    Yes. Put simply it restores everything short of the things required to boot off the disk, excepting the folders you exclude in your original backup from the TM preferences. If you care to distill your question down to the essentials, maybe we can give you a better answer.
  3. MattBook-Pro thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2010
    Boston MA
    Reading back on my post it is rather long and I didn’t realize that when I typed it, I tend to make long posts and cannot help that as I like to give lots od details. Let me try to do the cliff notes here of what I am trying to do in order to break it down and make it easier to read for those who don’t have time to read the original post, although this will still end up rather long I am sure, sorry!

    - I am very happy with my 15” MBP but I want to replace the slow 5400 RPM 500 GB Fujitsu drive that came with it and put in an Intel X-18 80 Gb SSD that I have.

    - The thing holding me back from doing this is that I really do not want to re-load OSX from scratch onto the new drive and then have to reinstall all of my applications as well as configure many settings the way I like them again. As I tend to setup my operating systems fairly particularly and find it takes me forever to get everything back to the way it was.

    - I was originally planning on using a disk cloning utility like SuperDooper or Carbon Copy Cloner but I have read in several different places around the web that you should not use these types of drive cloning apps to migrate a mechanical Hard Disk to a Solid State Disk, I am not sure of the exact reason but I have been reading that it is “bad” and can impact performance.

    - I currently use Time Machine and have up to date backups, so as a plan B in place of using a disk cloning utility I was going to install OSX to the SSD and then choose to re-restore my data from my Time Machine backup when asked during the install.

    - I am mainly wondering what my Time Machine backup will specially restore to my new drive, I know that files I have saved like documents, music, movies, ect. But what about applications that I have installed? Does it reinstall them as well without screwing up registered licenses? And same for configuration changes I have made to the OS and different settings, will my networks still be setup, will I have to re-pair all of my Bluetooth devices, put back the wallpapers that OSX remembers for each of my 3 different displays, ect.

    If you read any of this post please read these next two paragraphs!

    My two main questions are what will my new OSX install look like after I have restored my Time Machine backup to it? Will I still have to do a fair amount of work to get things back the way I like them or will everything for the most part be the same as it is now on this machine? If it restores 80% of my applications and settings and I only have to make a few changes I would be thrilled.

    Secondly can anyone tell me why it is not recommended to use a disk cloning utility when migrating to an SSD? To me that would be ideal, I could just hook up my SSD as an external USB drive, let SuperDooper do its thing, then replace the old drive that in in the machine with the SSD. After that in theory I would not even notice anything has changed minus the performance increase, otherwise everything should and would be exactly as it is on my machine right now. This is still my first choice if it is possible, while the Time Machine restore is a plan B. I am sure that some folks on this forum have used a drive cloning tool to migrate from a mechanical drive to a solid state disk so please let me know if you have had luck with this and if you noticed any repercussions, such as performance impact?

    BTW I come from a PC/Windows world and have been using Windows all my life and still do on most of my machines, ever since I got my MacBook Pro two months ago I try to avoid using my Win Vista Laptop whenever I can and instead I love using the Pro, something about how solid it is built and how slick the OS is just makes it a joy to use. But point being I am still new to Macs and OSX so if I sound like a rookie it is because I am!
  4. MattBook-Pro thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2010
    Boston MA
    I just wanted to post some of the data I have found existing against using drive cloning utilities, most of the info comes from threads on this forum or the official Apple forums...


    Apple - Support - Discussions - Warning! Using SuperDuper to clone from ...

    Here is another topic I have found with people arguing against cloning your drive...

    CCC Clone to SSD really slow - Mac Forums

    And here is one where people are for the most part recommending it, and then the thread goes off topic

    Apple - Support - Discussions - Best SSD for MacBook Pro ...

    So I am pretty confused here on if cloning the drive is safe to do, my gut tells me it would work fine and even if it didn't I have my data backed up so I would not loose anything. But for some reason my OCD is nagging at me to just do a clean install and restore from Time Machine to avoid potential issues mentioned on those threads. I will go make a post on the SuperDooper forums and see what those guys say as well.
  5. MattBook-Pro thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2010
    Boston MA
    Well I was able to clone my drive successfully with SuperDuper, everything seemed to go fine, no errors and it took about an hour to finish. But when I put the SSD in the machine and tried to boot it up I just get a white screen and nothing else. I tried clearing the PRAM and NVRAM but no luck with that either. I have no idea why but this SSD is not recognized by the disk utility when I boot from the OSX Install disc so I cannot even do a fresh install and this is driving me nuts. I have tried so many things to get this drive to work but I am about ready to give up on it. One last thing I may trying is downgrading to EFI 1.6, as I have read some SSD drives have issues with 1.7 but I am not too hopefully.

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