Friday, 25 April 2014

Frequently asked questions: Time Machine on Mac OS X

A real Time Machine is still to be invented by our Scientists so that we can travel back or move ahead in time. However, Geniuses at Apple Inc. invented such a machine that can take your system back in time. Mac OS X goes back in time so that a user can restore an important file that was modified or deleted. Though Time Machine on Mac is real, some users may not wish to use. Moreover, few of them don’t know how to use it and are interrogated by several questions that look too technical for them. So. To ease them out, I am writing some basic & technical faqs related to Time Machine backup on OS X Mac. 

1.     How and When to set-up Time Machine disk and why?

A Time Machine disk can be setup any point of time on an Intel Mac with OS X Leopard (10.5) or later.  The purpose of Time Machine is to take incremental back up of all the partitions including the OS X start-up disk. The data backed by the Time Machine can be easily restored to its location on some later time period. In case a file was modified, deleted or formatted, Time Machine proves to be extremely helpful or more correctly powerful tool that allows restoration of data to its location immediately.

To setup Time Machine, simply allocate a separate partition for it.
·      Go to Disk Utility and create a new partition on it.
·      Name this partition as Time Machine.
·      Now goto System Preferences<<Time Machine and click on ‘Select Disk’ button. Another window will appear showing all partitions. Select your newly created partition and click on ‘Use Disk’. 

Please Note: Since, you are creating a Time Machine backup on the same hard drive, so you will receive a following warning message.

Click ‘Use Selected Volume’ to proceed. This message actually suggest to backup data through Time Machine on a separate device.

If you wish to add an external device such as another HDD, Time Capsule then you can select that particular disk for Time Machine backups.

There is a major disadvantage on setting a Time Machine disk on the same hard drive. And, which is, if the entire drive fails the TM along with the drive will fail too. So, no point of restoration arises in such case. However, using a little space from the HDD and using for TM is not a bad idea either. One can always protect its personal data from being erased for life-long.

2.     What space to allow for Time Machine disk?

A Very interesting question arises as to what space should be defined for allocating a Time Machine partition. See the below image to understand.

This window arises when the Option button from Time Machine is clicked. The 'Exclude' window itself holds Time Machine disk from backing itself. So, after Time Machine exclusion, the space needed to backup entire hard drive is only 38.42 GB. So, a partition having size of 50-60 Gb is good enough to hold data from all other drives.

3.     How let TM know what to keep and what to skip?

As discussed above, the ‘Exclusion’ window can be added up with the folders, files & partitions that one doesn’t want to backup. Just use (+) or (-) button to include or exclude partitions, folders and files.

Above window shows how Desktop folder & Macintosh HD partition is excluded from being backed up by TM.

4.     How let TM know when to backup data from Mac HDD & partitions?

This could be done in either ways. Right-click on the Time Machine icon, which is located near the right-corner menu bar. Click to bring below menu. Click ‘Backup Now’ to initiate incremental backups.

Alternatively, your TM is supposed to take backup on its own, without your intervention. See below figure.

Here you can find important details of TM backup schedule and as what it keeps & let go.

5.     Can we allot multiple disks to Time Machine?

Of course we can and it is again too simple. Launch Time Machine interface by System Preferences or from the icon that is situated on top menu bar. Click Select Disk to bring in volume selection window. Your first Time Machine is already listed, now you can select another partition. Click ‘Use this Disk’ and OS X will give you another message, which is:

·      Either Replace the current Time Machine disk with new one or

·      Use both disk to maintain back up data, choice is yours.

6.     How to restore Time Machine data?

Go to TM icon and click on ‘Enter Time Machine’. Another window appears with image of Space in the background. Navigate through backup copies and click on the file(s) you want to restore. Once you click ‘Restore’ the selected file will appear on its original location.

7.     How to restore Mac OS X with a copy of Time Machine?

At times, OS X may corrupt causing a halt in day-to-day system task. But if you have a Time Capsule set-up then you can restore OS X through recovery mode. To do this follow below steps:

·      Restart Mac
·      When white screen appears, press hold of CMD+R key.
·      It takes some seconds to load Recovery Mode window.
·      This window asks user to restore OS X from a Time Machine backup. Once can easily select time capsule to restore OS X.

8.     What to do when TM run out of disk space?
Stop panicking about the Time Machine disk space, instead sit back and have a coffee. TM manages spaces on the disk by itself by deleting oldest copies of data from its partition.

9.     How to remove the TM disk?

Go to Time Machine window, click ‘Select Disk’ to bring forth a new window. Now, select the TM disk and click Remove.

Time Machine is good, in-fact superb in what it is supposed to do. There are hardly few shortcomings with the Time Machine software. Unlike cloning, Time Machine couldn’t create a bootable backup for the OS X. A bootable DVD boots the machine helps to load the OS X from OS disk. Otherwise Time Machine is perfect.