Sorry for the lack of a Noob2Pro series yesterday, I had some server troubles and I wasn’t feeling brilliant (I slept on my arm last night, and now I can’t feel my left arm). Anyway life must go on and today I am going to discuss Time Machine, the fantastic back up app designed to work with your Mac. I think this application should be compulsory use for anyone who doesn’t have a major back up program.
There is a lot of different opinions about Time Machine. Some people love it because it is simple to use, does it job and works. Some people hate it because its not a proper back up app. I personally think it is great. Time Machine is designed to backup the important stuff personal to you. For example your applications, documents, pictures and music to say the least. I don’t think it backs up your system files, such as logs and caches (hence the disapproval among some people), when restoring your Mac, your install disk is combined with a Time Machine backup. I’m not 100% sure since I have never tried it out. However Time Machine is good for looking after your personal documents and for most people it does that job well.
Time Machine, when set up, will save everything to an external disk, when you make a change to a file or folder it records this change. At a given time in the day, usually every hour, it will write these files to disk. Then when needs be, you can fly back in time and look for either the latest file or a previous iteration. Meaning you can either pick up the latest backup of a file, or one a month ago when you have just realised you have deleted something important.
Setting up Time Machine is dead simple. First you need an External Hard Drive. You can pick pretty much any one up. The bigger the better. It doesn’t need to have any fancy features just a USB cable. When you have bought it and plugged it in you are ready to roll. I can’t fully remember how the process goes (there may be an automatic option when you first plugin your drive), however if you go to System Preferences > Time Machine, you can set it up from there.
The first step is to select “Change Disk”, here you can select the disk you want to backup. Select the one you have just added. When you click OK, the back up can begin. If it is a new disk it will take a long while as it has to create a lot of files and copy them across.
As a pro tip I recommend looking through the options. Here you can add folders and files to exclude. If you have large folders of files you know you wont use its a good idea to add them to the list. For example I would add your main temporary folder, or anything you use for development where the final copy gets saved somewhere else. This is done to save space and allow you to add more files that are important.
Using Time Machine is simple as well. Simply access Time Machine from the Applications folder. Here you can navigate the Finder window as normal. When you have gone back in time and found the file you want, press restore and it will restore it in the current Finder folder. Easy.
Time Machine is useful, set it up. However if you want a more “Professional” backup system, try SuperDuper, as this can create a fully bootable backup system. Its a great fail safe system, however it does cost and not as flexible as Time Machine.
There isn’t many Pro tips for using Time Machine. The best one I can offer is to actually set it up. You only ever need a backup when you don’t have one. So make sure you have Time Machine in place.