Will Time Machine make full copy of my system?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by UminoSakura, Jan 24, 2017.

  1. UminoSakura macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2017
    So I attach external hard drive to my Mac.
    Run Time Machine.

    Will this make full copy of my entire system and files onto external hard drive?

    And if something happens, I can restore everything using external hard drive?
    Especially if system upgrade to new OS causes issue, can I then revert back to old system using my Time Machine copy on external hard drive?
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    That's correct: applications, user data, operating system, the lot.

    Yep! Plug in external HDD, hold Alt on startup, select your Time Machine drive. It will boot into a screen similar to OS X Utilities (which you'd normally get by holding CMD+R on startup). Select 'Restore Time Machine Backup', point it to your internal drive, and it'll restore, leaving your computer exactly as you left it when it was last backed up.

    You can also use this process to restore your backup to a repaired or a brand-new machine, or if you just fitted a blank hard-drive into a Mac and need to install an OS. The only time this won't work is if the operating system on your Time Machine backup is earlier than the OS which shipped on the Mac you're restoring to. :)
  3. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    If you REALLY want "a full copy" of your internal drive -- one that will boot, mount and look EXACTLY as does your internal drive -- than you need a cloning app, and NOT Time Machine.

    Either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper will do the job, and do it just as you want.

    Both are FREE to download, and FREE to use.
    CCC works for 30 days before you have to register.
    SD will do a "full clone" of your source drive FOREVER without registering, but you have to register to do incremental backups.

    I suggest you download CCC (or SD) and give it a try on an external volume.
    Just give it a try.
    Then -- come back to this topic, and post your impressions.
  4. UminoSakura thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2017

    Thank you for explaining!

    I forgot to ask one question: if I keep making copies with Time Machine, my external hard drive will be full with two or even less depending which one I use.
    Can I re-use external hard drive like this? If yes, should I manually delete older Time Machine copy from external hard drive before making newer one or will Mac overwrite the Time Machine copy on external hard drive when doing new copy? If it does overwrite old copy, then it wouldn't cause some data damage?

    Thank you!
  5. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    This is where Time Machine excels. The first time it backs up, it takes ages as it copies the entire drive. After that, every time you plug it in, it will automatically update any changed (deleted or added) files on as a new date, but only the changed files or apps as it's already snapshotted the entire OS. So you can have hundreds of different dates with file changes that you can revert to at any time, restoring it exactly as it was on that date, without taking up drives worth of space each time. It also means if you've misplaced a file down the line, it'll be somewhere in your backups.

    Time Machine automatically deletes the oldest backup if the drive gets full. Honestly, it couldn't be simpler to use. Set it up once and never have to worry about it again. :)
  6. UminoSakura thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2017
    Whoa, this IS perfect! Thank your for clarifying. :D

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