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Is Time Machine all you need?

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 06:15 AM

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#2 User is offline   scopie 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 06:26 AM

I have a 1TB disc attatched to my desktop which I use for time machine. My wife's laptop has been allowed to see this disk on the network and uses it for time machine without problems. I therefore don't agree with your statement that the only newtwork disk that can use time machine is Time Capsule
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#3 User is offline   madgunde 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 06:42 AM

I too was confused by the article's claim that you can only back up to a Time Capsule. I back up my MacBook Pro to a USB hard disk connected to my Mac mini over the ethernet network. Shouldn't any NAS that supports AFP work just the same?

I believe this limitation was fixed in Mac OS X 10.5.1. MacWorld, you should correct your article.
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#4 User is offline   djolesch 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 06:43 AM

If you purchase Time Capsule, could you be able to back up your computer to it if the Time Capsule drive is off-site? Meaning could your Time Capsule be the drive that you store at your sister's house, but can still back it up over a WAN? Please let me know if this is possible.
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#5 User is offline   doshea 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 06:43 AM

I'm surprised that SuperDuper! was not mentioned as a backup program. For years I used Retrospect, but for producing a bootable back up with a minimum of fuss, I don't think there is a better application.
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#6 User is offline   pcharles 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 07:01 AM

An interesting and thought provoking article. However, while I agree that people who rely on their computers for work should not depend on one backup solution, I think time machine is ideal for the average user. I believe the article suggested this, but I am concerned a newbie might get the sense that Time Machine is a poor solution when it is not.

In a sense it does create a "bootable" backup because if you have time machine set to backup the whole drive, the 10.5 installation disk offers the option to perform a complete restore from Time Machine. So you boot from the CD, restore, and you are ready to go. I do not know how long it takes because thankfully I have not needed to find out, but it sounds quite painless.

I also use Synchronize Plus to sync my desktop and laptop drives, have played with Superduper to make a bootable external firewire disk, and have tried other programs like Retrospect (came with my 1TB MyBook) and DejaVu, which is a great little prefpane because it works even while you are logged out.

I feel good knowing that Time Machine is keeping an hourly eye on what I am doing in case something goes wrong. Backup solutions that require little effort are the ones that get used most often, and are therefore most effective.
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#7 User is offline   Ventzi_Zhechev 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 07:31 AM

I think everybody forgets, that `other solutions? existed long before Time Machine was even in the works. They have been tested and optimised and quite well for everyone who uses them.
The question is: Who uses those tools? And the answer is: Almost no-one!

Why do you expect that barking at Time Machine will make people use more complex backup tools? It is quite clear to me that the 3-5% of users who did regular backups will continue to do so and usually with their old tools ? just because of all you said is wrong with Time Machine. But this is because those users rely on certain types of backup.

So what should the other 95% of the users do? Go spend money and organise a serious off-site backup strategy? Well, that has been the suggested thing to do for quite some time and nobody has done it so far. And this is exactly why Apple built Time Machine.

This product is not for people who rely on backups for their work. This is for simple users who?d appreciate the peace of mind of having a backup for the rare case they accidentally deleted something. Or for the day they install the next update from Apple without repairing permissions first and their system goes garbled. I?d say that Time Machine is exactly for this type of users with its simplicity of use and effectiveness. And if even half of the 95% who didn?t backup before starts using Time Machine now ? it will be a great help for IT stuff and relatives who?d otherwise have to use specialised software to recover that lost photo of the lovely niece.
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#8 User is offline   soulatrium 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 07:50 AM

I really like my current backup scheme. I have a Macbook with an 80GB internal HD. Here's how it breaks down:
external (requires power supply) 200GB firewire drive for Time Machine
External (no power supply required) 160GB firewire drive partioned with 80GB for SUPERDUPER clone, 80GB for additional file storage.
.Mac iDisk (5GB currently allocated) for .Mac Backup to automatically backup my documents and desktop folders (the 2 most important and constantly-changing folders on my computer).
It works great, and all these schemes run automatically every day.
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#9 User is offline   dbutenhof 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:02 AM

Time Machine is, in many ways, orthogonal to "real backups". Time Machine makes it incredibly easy, convenient, and even elegant to browse recent change history, reverse changes, or restore deleted files; orders of magnitudes beyond any other "file history" technology.
But it doesn't support off-site backups easily, and doesn't guarantee that the file history can be explored back months, much less years, unless you have a Time Machine disk that's enormous relative to the amount of space you're actually using on the system.
I wish that Time Capsule had modular disks so that they could easily be swapped and taken off-site. I wish there was feasibly affordable media far larger. I saw an ad recently for an NAS with accommodation for a Blu-ray burner in a RAID server and trays built to hotswap naked drives. That would be almost perfect... if Time Machine supported generic NAS backups.
Unless you're using hardly any of the typical system disk sizes available now, backing up on CDs or even DVDs is impractical... a DVD holds less than 5Gb, and even with compression a "mildly populated" 500Gb disk will eat a lot of DVDs... and time. Even Blu-ray, at 40+ Gb, isn't necessarily practical if you've got hundreds of Gb of video.
My Firewire VXA tape drive recently died. I'd used it more or less successfully for home network backups, with Retrospect, for years. I alternated tapes, with the off-rotation tapes in my office at work. But frankly a replacement tape drive that's useful with the current amount of household storage just isn't affordable. I'd already cut down what I backed up to the minimum of my wife's illustration volume and our individual document directories. It was "better than nothing", but not really enough if disaster should strike.
So, yeah, Time Machine isn't perfect. Neither is anything else that's practical for home use. In a business, I'd invest in a high-end tape autofeeder system and rotate into a professional secure archive facility. As a home user I simply don't have that sort of budget.
Right now, of all the alternatives, I think that a 1 Tb Time Capsule is going to be the best compromise I can manage. But I sure wish those things had hotswappable drives -- because really I could make do quite nicely with 2 or 3 1-Tb drives that I could rotate out of the house on a weekly basis.
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#10 User is offline   EmilSkoda 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:10 AM

Much is made of the fact that Time Machine doesn't make bootable backups -- this is the #1 negative in this article. But is this that important, at least for home users and even for many professionals? Certainly a bootable backup is simpler, but what's a few hours to restore a computer in what would otherwise be the scary situation of losing all of one's data? Especially for a home user, where personal work is rarely time critical -- it doesn't fall into the hyper-professional realm of every lost hour is $1000 lost revenue.


My biggest concern, that I think still needs more explanation and exploration, is Time Machine's method of aggregating data (e.g. hourly into daily, daily to weekly, and weekly to monthly) and its method of discarding old data.



I have two goals in backing up data. The first is recovery from a hard-drive failure with all of my data intact -- data currently on my hard drive. The second goal is archiving data for "permanent" storage so I can remove it from my hard drive. This includes such things as old emails, installation programs (that may not be easily found online in the future, like the special versions MacHeist uses) registration keys, and home movies



It's this second category that I don't yet trust Time Machine with. If I delete files from my hard-drive, I don't know that Time Machine will provide a archive for them, of if it will silently discard them sometime in the future.
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#11 User is offline   soulatrium 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:14 AM

EmilSkoda: Time Machine has not been designed to deal with that "second category" of permanent data archival that you are concerned with. As for my own data archival, I just drag and drop from my internal hard drive to a partition on a second hard drive bought specifically for that (and, for redundancy, also back up the most important stuff on .Mac's iDisk).
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#12 User is offline   MacTechAspen 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:21 AM

I too am a little surprised at the tone of this article. While it does seem to sing the praises of Time Machine, at best it is doing so with a caveat.
The article takes great pains to talk about off site backups. A fabulous idea that almost no one does. By far and away the easiest, most important way to ensure offsite backup of SOME of your critical dat is to use .Mac and Backup - again a utility and option not even mentioned. The .Mac off site backup will only deal with a small portion of your data (at least off site, and without paying for more storage), but it is simple and safe.
What makes Time Machine extraordinary, and well worth it for everyone to run out nad buy an external hard drive if they don't already have one (where was that advice?) is that Time Machine makes it unbelievably easy to backup and restore. This means people will really use it.
I am a computer pro. I run several computer based companies. My backup routine includes Retrospect and a series of backups of backups. I store optical disks of my document folder (the smallest easiest, most important thing to backup) in a fireproof safe, and another copy off site.
For all my backup savvy I am impressed with how easy it is to recover a file from Time Machine and it has changed the way I work. I still have all those other backups in case, but to find a file that I accidently threw away, or over wrote, Time Machine makes it unbelievably easy.
For pros, Time Machine is a must use, along with other solutions. For consumers, there is finally an incredibly easy to use solution that only cost the amount of an external drive. I have been consulting for over 20 years and I can not begin to tell you how rare it is for a consumer to have any backup.
As with all Apple software, Time Machine is not the end all solution for every user. As with all Apple Applications (except iMovie 08 ;) Time Machine is an incredibly easy to use solution that just works.
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#13 User is offline   DominikHoffmann 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 09:08 AM

After upgrading to Leopard on both client and server machines I am coming to the conclusion that Time Machine is not appropriate if users have home directories hosted by a server. While Time Machine will back up every client computer, and do so nicely to the server's designated hosted Time Machine share, it won't back up user home folders, since they are not physically on the client computer's volumes.
Sure, I back up all home directories through a Time Machine process that's running on the server. However, this takes the simplicity of the utility away, as a user would have to be able to log into the server, in order to restore lost files. I don't see that as a viable solution.
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#14 User is offline   trip1ex 

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 09:46 AM

This is just a fear mongering article.

I don't know about you, but I now have a current backup of my data at all times whereas before I had none. Good enough for me.

The only other thing you need to do is store copies of some things off-site in case the worst happens. Most folks know that though. It's not true just of digital computer data. It's true of paper documents and photos too. Do people follow through on that? Not really.
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