This article was first published on 2007-11-19. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.
So Time Machine is here now and I heard a Windows user say, “That’s just like system restore on Windows!” What makes it so special?
First of all, Time Machine is part of the OS, it integrates so well with so many of the applications that Apple has made, and by the looks of it developers are writing their application with Time Machine support. It is also extremely easy to get started once you have an extra drive attached to your Mac.
For Time Machine you will need a external hard drive, I would recommend getting a drive at least twice the size of the original one in the machine, with the price of storage being so cheep at the moment you can easily pick up a 500GB for less than £100 (about $180) this will give you lots of space for Time Machine and any other backups or file dumps as well.
So what does this mean for you as a user? Well, if you delete a contact from your Address book, a photo from iPhoto, a PDF in the documents, its all backed up onto a external hard drive, allowing you complete access to a complete archive of everything that’s ever been changed or deleted, and its all done via a beautiful interface that feels like you are travelling through space, its just like the effect in Start Trek when they go to warp. Small thing to play with, find a star and go backwards and forwards in time, the star gets bigger the older it gets, that’s attention to detail!
Amazingly this wonderful application lets you set it all up from the word go when you buy a new Mac or when you upgrade from 10.4 Tiger. When you run the installation of Leopard 10.5 you are presented with a menu asking if you wish to create a Time Machine back up, this is great as it back up all the data on the machine before it installs 10.5 on the machine, and setups up backup data from the word go.
After having this now a little over three weeks on my machine the back up folder on my Maxtor 500GB HD, is only taking up only 420MB of space on the disk, now this I thought at first was very odd considering I have just been amending 200Mb+ files in Photoshop, a new catalogue thatI’m checking over for work, and a Motion project, but I went back and all the adjustments that I have made in the past, they are there, all the old deleted files that I got rid off are still there, so some how Time Machine also compresses the data down and expands it on the fly, don’t ask me how it does it, it just does!
Is Time Machine really that great, well yes, it’s the best feature in my opinion of Leopard, the ability to fly back in time and pick off data, whether I search via Spotlight in the finder or application, or just let it find the newest change just by hitting the back button.
Are there any downsides, well yes, In previous builds you were able to specify how long that data stayed on the drive, and that feature I really liked, but it has now been dropped, there is no longer support for Airport Extreme base station to do Wireless Time Machine backups, there are ways around it but means fiddling with terminal, and my rule is, if its not broken try not to fix it.
Time machine is a truly great feature of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, use it and you will wonder how you ever lived with out it.
What are your favorite features of Time Machine? Have you tweaked it to run in some special way? Let us know in the forums!