Is Time Machine all you need?
Posted 15 February 2008 - 06:26 AM
Posted 15 February 2008 - 06:42 AM
I believe this limitation was fixed in Mac OS X 10.5.1. MacWorld, you should correct your article.
Posted 15 February 2008 - 06:43 AM
Posted 15 February 2008 - 07:01 AM
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.
Posted 15 February 2008 - 07:31 AM
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.
Posted 15 February 2008 - 07:50 AM
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.
Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:02 AM
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.
Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:10 AM
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.
Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:14 AM
Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:21 AM
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.
Posted 15 February 2008 - 09:08 AM
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.
Posted 15 February 2008 - 09:46 AM
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.