back to article Mac OS X Leopard - Time Machine

I was planning to leave my appraisal of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard's Time Machine feature until the end, but necessity has just forced me to look at it in depth straight away. Put simply, if it wasn't for Time Machine, you wouldn't be reading this article. Earlier today, I experienced one of about three kernel panics I've …


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  1. Andy Matheson
    Jobs Halo

    Force Backup

    You can force a backup: right click on the Time Machine dock icon and select 'Back Up now'

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    Your entire OS fails in under 2 weeks, it takes 2 failed attempts to restore and a complete re-install of the OS to get back up and running and this is a resounding success how? Yes you managed to recover all your stuff eventually, but that is the point of backup. On just that feature you give Leopard 95%, completely ignoring the fact that Leopard should not have put you in that position within such a short period of time. How much are Apple paying you for this review?


    My Vista X64 Business has NEVER crashed on me or caused me to do a forced shutdown in the 6 months I have been running it. Neither have I experienced any of the problems other people have reported such as the slow copying to network.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Big problems with Time Machine

    First of all, there is a way to force a backup whenever you want. Just right-click on the Time Machine dock icon and there's an option to "Back Up Now".

    But there are a lot of compatibility issues with Time Machine at the moment, just check out this Apple forum:

    I found this because, guess what, it doesn't work for me with my G5 PowerMac and (brand new) Western Digital My Book combo. The backup just craps out with some unknown error and never gets to complete.

    Looking at the error reports, there is no real pattern to the problems. All sorts of people with many different types of kit are having a range of different issues.

    So although Time Machine is a great idea and the interface is brilliantly simple, I can't see that it can be relied on as your sole backup solution just yet - even if it works for you at the moment.

    Maybe the forthcoming 10.5.1 will address some of the problems, who knows.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forced Backup

    You can force a backup from the Dock icon's contextual menu. Gives you a button to click and everything.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Vintage cheese

    There IS a back-up now button - right click (or control-click) on the time machine dock icon. Does this mean it gets 100%?

    Also, I'd like to thank apple for this feature. I switched almost all of my relatives (whose PCs I get lumped with supporting) over to mac, which has cut the amount of work down by 80% or so. Time machine will cut it down even more, and I'll be able to stop reminding them to make backups! Ah, more time for actually doing stuff instead of fixing stuff!

    Now, go fix the UI stuff you uglified mr. jobs.

  6. Marc


    Just right click the Time Machine icon in the dock and choose "Backup Now"

  7. James Robertson

    For Sure

    Time Machine is why I upgraded to Leopard. I havnt had any problems with the upgrade, it was easy.

  8. Danny Traynor

    @Anonymous Coward

    If you'd bothered to actually read the article properly you'd have noticed that the score is for the Time Machine feature of Leopard. Not simply Leopard.

  9. Steven Hewittt
    Jobs Horns


    So if we forget about the fact that your closed system (closed OS, closed hardware) after a matter of weeks not only crashed but shat itself so it wouldn't even boot, there's a fundemental issue here isn't there...

    "Only to have the process fail a quarter of the way through."

    It didn't work as it should have done.

    Essentially Time Machine is an hourly scheduled backup to removable media. The same as Windows and Linux can do. I honestly can't see what the fuss is all about... have Mac's honestly never had a automated backup application?

    And don't reply with the flicking back through to older versions of the same docs - sure there's apps for Linux that do it and Windows has done it for years.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Hardly a comprehensive review

    A lame reviewer if you don't realise you can start a backup manually at any time by right clicking on the time machine icon on the dock and choosing (you guessed it...) 'back up now'!

  11. James Robertson

    OS not at fault

    as i read the article I thought that the machine was at fault not the new OS.

    And Time Machine performed as required.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Here's a 1-line version for Linux

    find <DIRECTORIES> -type f -mmin -5 -exec cp --backup=t --parents "{}" /tmp/backups/quickies/ \;

    Put that in as a cron job that runs every 5 minutes (or whatever, just make the -mmin clause match the cron period), and Bob's your uncle.

    The directories to protect should be just a list separated by spaces. Home directories are a good place to start; on Linux there's no real need to protect the system.

    This works with minor changes on OS X too.

    I've been using this for years on Linux and Macs. I also run a job that deletes anything from the backup folder that's not been accessed for a month.

    Not so pretty but at least I didn't have to wait years for a company to do it for me on a whim.

  13. Ze Stuart

    LOL @ Anon coward

    Nice. Very funny. Same experience here, and my mac fails with enthusiasm.

    Has anyone heard of the Previous Versions option in Vista? No? Maybe?

  14. Tim


    ... surely the Mac is flawless and therefore should never crash or lock up in this fashion to require restoration from backups? ;-)

  15. Tim

    Hang on a sec

    Err, your new O/S pasted your system to such an extent that you had to completely reinstall it, you don't know why, and it took a few attempts to restore from backups? And this is still a positive review?

    I thought the whole point of Apple kit was that by controlling the hardware and the O/S this sort of thing wasn't supposed to happen?

    I'll stick to Tiger, thanks, at least until a couple of dot-x revisions have passed. As useful as Time Machine may very well be I can't afford to have my machine explode like that for no discernible reason.

  16. Alan Lukaszewicz
    Thumb Up

    Hello World

    OS X 10.5 is stunning, absolutely brilliant - and it is still in early days of its introduction to a big new world.

    Over on one of the forums the reported message rate of all OS X 105 posting (faults and praises) corresponded to 0.005% of the 2 million sales in the first weekend. Now that is worth thinking about for sure.

    As a relatively new to Mac person the other things (apart from TM, Cover Flow, ... ) are the more mundane things like data transfer rates. What does that mean?

    Well one thing is 25 MB/s to an external USB drive.

    Transfer rates, if there is a lot of data to shift, between devices is awesome with the usual advantage that moving stuff does not eat into CPU cycles.

    But no OS is perfect and the first few weeks into "Hello world" really does mean some stuff will be identified (good and bad).

    Now the biggest problems are: MacDrive? Parallels? VMWare? Will I won't I?

  17. Chris Morrison
    Jobs Horns

    Are you kidding me?

    How can you possibly give 95% to a piece of software that you couldnt get to work the first two times you tried it, ate up hours of your time, and you should never have had to run in the first place.

    This is possibly the most biased review I have ever read in my life. Yes I'm sure your delighted that you managed to recover all your data, and maybe thats why you think its invaluable but you can't honestly say it deserves 95% after all the problems you have had.

    Maybe the reviews are broken again and you actually meant to give it -5%.


  18. Matt
    Thumb Down

    An OS feature that needs extra devices...

    Gee, for just the price of buying an extra device you can make use of a backup feature. Lovely.

    Why not just have a RAID 1 system in the first place if you're going to run two drives?

    And if you want to be able to look at previous editions of files or backup copies, why not have a system like Server 2003/Vista's Shadow Copy which is seamless, invisible and requires no extra hardware.

    Or, if the OS fails, Windows has had since XP the ability to roll back before updates, boot last known good configuration and so on.

    Hardly seems something to crow about!

  19. Dabooka

    You having a bubble?

    "My Vista X64 Business has NEVER crashed on me or caused me to do a forced shutdown in the 6 months I have been running it"

    Oh aye, and what about all the previous versions of Windows that you have run, and that have crashed, constantly and with no obvious cause? How many times have you seen the delight of the "Windows is starting for the first time" screen. Anyway, you're missing the point in that it worked (sure not fault free but still seems relatively painlessly).

    I guess you just like lampooning Macs; fair enough. But when your current version of Vista does die a death, please do post on here just how easy it was to restore everything, then you'll have something to compare.

  20. Simon Greenwood
    Thumb Up

    Two cheers

    First off, I have seen Windows kill machines on install several times over my career, as I have seen Sun boxes DOA: hardware isn't 100% reliable nor can it ever be.

    I got Time Machine working on a Mac Mini last weekend and I'm quite happy with what it's doing, although I think I am going to spend some time getting a profile correct: it seems that the average backup is about 40Gb, and the default profile says that it will take a full backup weekly until the drive is full. I suspect that we are going to hear some wailing in a few weeks when A.N. Leoparduser's nice new 300Gb drive has run out of space.

    Time Machine is a great addition to any OS, simple to use and as Tony has found, great when something goes wrong, but I think it's also going to generate a lot of discussion and hacking tips among those of us who want more control over it.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Anonymous Coward?

    Irrelevant tosser more like.

    I was hoping in vain that this story wouldn't descend into "My OS is better than your OS", but too late, it already has.

    Based on your enormous sample of 1, we can now safely say there are no network copying issues in Vista. Brilliant.

    My mate has got the same car as me and he has crashed his, so I reckon I'd better sell mine.

    My copy of VMS hasn't crashed since 1936. Because I haven't got one.

  22. Robert Long

    Classic Mac idiots

    Time Machine is a classic example of Apple getting themselves and their sad fans excited about something that the rest of the world finds trivial and has been doing for decades. I had a similar app running on an old Vax 15 years ago.

    Meanwhile, Mac users have to put up with unmaintainable hardware and a selection of software that's second to all.

    Dreadful company, dreadful products, deadful fans.

  23. Uwe Dippel
    Dead Vulture


    Read your so-called article through to the end. Was still hoping for the whole thing to end with some sarcasm, but it didn't.

    Will you please share your pocket-money earned by astroturfing with us; us who spend time reading through a marketing-in-disguise ?

    Anyone deserving the title 'journalist' ought to know his stuff and keep the proper distance. Nothing to be added to what was said earlier, except that the idea behind ZFS (which was supposed to be the underlying file system) was not implemented in 10.5. You had better lambasted Apple for stealing hours of your time by selling you a sub-par filesystem that tends to leave the data on the drive in an undefined state. Provided of course, that there was no drive failure. Your endless experiments rather demonstrate a problem of the system, when a restore hangs twice and a fresh install is unavoidable. After a simple BSOD.

  24. Andrew Rennard

    Time machine more elegant than 'Find'

    To those people who seem to think that you can write a one-line cron job in Linux to do the same thing as Time Machine.. well, good luck with that.

    What you probably don't realise is that when TM runs it's is informed by the OS which files have changed since it last ran, and it backs up those, and only those, files. Running 'find' every hour will probably result in your disk thrashing for a considerable portion of that hour - whereas my TM activity takes about one or two minutes, with very minimal CPU involvement.

    And no, Windows Shadow Copy is not the same thing either. TM makes clever use of hard links in the backup set, so that each hourly backup can be browsed from any normal file manager tool (eg the Finder) and appears exactly like a complete backup in it's own right. They should have called it 'SpaceTime Machine' for the way it apparently squeezes 24 backups a day of your entire hard drive onto a disk that might be no bigger than the source.

    More details on the tech behind this can be found in Ars Technica's review. I suggest you read it before post any more inane 'Linux can do this' comments.

  25. Dave Rutt
    Thumb Up

    Great feature

    I love how it's enabled by default. As a brand new OSX user I've been impressed with how most things just work - and Time Machine is a great example of that.

    It makes me wonder why the Firewall is defaulted to off though. Still, I only have minor quibbles so far. This seems easier to navigate and use for a new user than, say, Ubuntu or even Windows.

  26. Steven Hewittt

    RE: Evil Graham

    It's not my OS v your OS. It's a case that the "review" was 95% for Time Machine. But it didn't bloody work until the third time around.

    The other points I think are relevant, in that both Linux and Windows have offered this feature for a long time. XP since 2004, and Linux for years before that.

    Essentially Time Machine is doing a full backup, and then incrementals in the background every hour if you have a removable hard drive.

    The fact that something so very simple didn't even work properly the first couple of times is just shocking - and giving it 95% just highlights the huge bias that this "reviewer" has when it comes to this OS.

    And to be fair, when someone is doing a review of an OS, and 2 weeks in the OS shit's itself and then the new restore features doesn't work properly then you need to expect people to come up and say WTF? 95% on a feature that doesn't work first time - and you only used the feature because the OS (which is closed sourced) COMPLETELY DIED on the closed source hardware (so to speak) which is overpriced in the first place.

    You don't expect any comments about it?!

    I won't even mentioned the firewall that is turned off, BSOD's if you have an application installed, the firewall that when you tell it to disable all connections it lies to you and of course the piss poor quality hardware used even though you pay a premium for it.

    So yes, expect comparisions. I would expect car mechanics to discuss motors of all sorts - regardless if they service them on a regualr basis.

    It's called research and comments. Check the title of this page.

    And finally, not too sure that personal attacks are really justified Evil Graham. Or is that Ignorant dickead?

  27. Chris Haynes
    Thumb Down

    To whoever posted about not experiencing slow file copying in Vista...

    I had a 221MB zip file of about 250MB. It was on the C: drive of my friend's Vista laptop.

    WinZip was not installed.

    I expanded the zip file (compressed folders method) and tried to copy one of the folders from there onto the Desktop on the SAME laptop. This isn't even copying between computers or over any sort of network - this is from the harddrive to somewhere else on the same harddrive.

    Vista said it would take 4 days and 6 hours to complete. It started copying the data at 55 bytes/sec and never got above 68 bytes/sec.

    In the end, I had to put the zip on my Mac and activate file sharing on the Vista laptop, so I could copy them at a reasonable speed (in the Mb/sec range).

    I've experienced the slow file copying in VIsta, and let me tell you, it f**king aches.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    all I have to say to the person below is...

    "wah wah wah, I hate macs"....good for you mate...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    I just love

    How easy it is to infuriate Apple fans just by pointing out that their beloved systems are far from perfect.

    @Danny Traynor

    I stand corrected, the score was just for Time Machine. But why does a feature need a 2 page review? Surely the OS should be graded as a whole and completely failing in such a short period of time should deduct mega points.

    @James Robertson

    If you read the article fully, it did state that the Apple hardware test and booting from DVD confirmed that everything was ok. That points to an OS problem to me.

    @Evil Graham

    I never claimed that my experience with Vista meant there are no problems, but after months of listening to the Apple mob spouting how crap Vista is, nobody can get it to work, buy a mac they don't have these kinds of problems etc it balances things out slightly. Also, have you noticed recently that more people are beginning to post that they haven't had any problems either. I suspect that a lot of the previously reported problems are due to 3rd party bloatware (HP,Acer,Sony) and also from people who have run away from it after 5 minutes use crying 'It's so different from XP, I don't know what to do'

  30. andy rock

    RIGHT CLICK!?!???

    heresy!! burn him!!


  31. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Re: Two cheers

    TIme machine doesn't take a full backup each time, it does that once (which will take 40gb). The next time, it will backup anything that's changed, and put links to the first backup for anything that hasn't changed. The backup folder LOOKS like a complete backup, and reports that it contains 40gb of files, but it probably only takes a few MB in reality.

    For comparison, I have about 70gb of data being backed up to a 320gb disk - there must be 30+ backup folders now, each reporting 70gb of files, but I have about 120gb free (and there's a lot of other stuff on the disk, not just time machine!)

    In practice, it'll keep hourly backups for the present day, then (if i remember right) daily backups for the last week, weekly backups for the last month, then monthly backups until it runs out of disk space (at which point you start losing the oldest backups).

    And for everyone that doesn't "get it" - sure, backups are nothing new, and backup to an external hard disk isn't exactly perfect. But the key to this is that the vast majority of people DON'T backup, and find it difficult to figure out what they need to buy or do. A lot of mac users have an external hard disk already, or will buy one to use time machine. And all they have to do is plug the disk in, and click ONE button. That's it - they have a good backup routine established. The fancy 3d interface and stuff is over the top, but it's kindof fun and it's easy to understand. No grey windows with lots of options.

    I.e. - people will ACTUALLY USE it! How many people use windows backup?

  32. Mike

    Look at the facts

    OK, steering clear of the whole Vista vs OS X vs Penguin OS debate, surely the point here is that while it did (eventually) work, the reviewer by their own admission had 3 attempts at restoring said machine. Two attempts using what I presume (not having tried it) is the standard method which failed on two occasions (no warning before starting saying it can't be done this way, therefore if it crashes mid-restore then this software is faulty) before having to do a full format, re-install, then restore data.

    Backup software that "works" like that should not be getting 95% in a review, irrespective of platform.

  33. Shakje
    Jobs Horns

    While that Vista comment was a bit silly...

    it's true that two restores failed, whatever part of the OS that's down to, it's not as good as Windows restore for fault fixing (which I have hardly ever had to use in XP and never in Vista as of yet). If it was a hardware problem I don't see why it would be gone with a reinstall of the OS, it's clearly something that's been corrupted in the system files, which clearly aren't restored fully using Time Machine. While I can see the benefits of it, it's not THAT good, and it IS a feature that's been in XP for years (was it in SP1 it was added? Can't remember if it came with the standard install or not.), and this is NOT a my OS is better than yours, if it was it could turn into a massive argument (as usual), but, based on the ONE feature that has been reviewed, the XP restore was implemented years ago and is miles ahead of Time Machine. If anyone's got a good reason why that statement is untrue go ahead.

  34. Gary

    Is it possible....

    to ever have objective discussion about the merits (or not) of an operating system without it turning into a slanging match between Microsoft and Apple preachers???, don't think so, unfortunately.

    I run Vista, and it does crash, and I am looking to get a Mac sometime in the near future - I expect that it will also crash on occasion - but hey, that's software for you - get over it.

    BTW, my dad is bigger than your dad ;-)

  35. Ian Davies


    "find <DIRECTORIES> -type f -mmin -5 -exec cp --backup=t --parents "{}" /tmp/backups/quickies/ \;"

    And you think the average user (you know, the ones that this feature is actually aimed at) would know how to do something like this?

    Jesus. The above comment is by no means the worst offender on here, but the number of strawman arguments being puked up in these comments is just staggering.

    The clown who thinks that 6 months crash-free with Vista is somehow a valid comparison to *anything* probably also doesn't understand what things like "mean time between failures" *really* means. There is no such thing as a fault-proof hard drive just like there's no such thing as a fault-proof OS, and I've lost count of how many times a clean XP installation has borked itself for no apparent reason, and has to be reinstalled all over again. Your computer *will* crash at some point, and you *will* lose data at some point. The only point of importance is how easy it is to get your data back. Judging by the reviewer's experiences, there was more going on here than a straightforward crash; possibly more than one fault, hence the need the reinstall the OS. Not a trivial issue by any means, but the point is that the data was safe and he did indeed get his machine back.

    This is why Time Machine is such a big deal. No, it's not a revolutionary concept (I don't recall anyone claiming that it was) but what *is* pretty unique is the implementation which, for the average user (see definition above), it makes it harder to *not* use it than to use it, which boosts the likelihood of data recovery by orders of magnitude that most other products simply don't manage.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Be afraid...

    Looks like Apple is doing the M/S method of testing.

    Realease it in the wild, let it piss of the early adopters and then do an upgrade.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I didn't notice anything in the article about how Time Machine _really_ works. I assume that it's a file level copy with date/time stamp that is all slapped on an external device and has an interface to this device that shows point in time 'snapshots'. What I didn't notice was how Time Machine deals with files which are locked for access or which change while they are being copied (a classic problem with backup of databases in particular.) With VSS in Windows, you can instruct apps to quiesce in order to create a valid copy of their files, with NetBackup you have open file management, but as a catchall you also have the ability to run pre and post backup commands and instruct your apps to quiesce or extract, likewise with Networker. How does Time Machine do this? Can it do this? It is really important that people who run Time Machine realise that it may have limitations.

    Can anyone enlighten me?

  38. Anonymous Coward

    @Steven Hewitt

    "Or is that Ignorant dickead"

    No. It's "dickhead". And it's "Mister Dickhead" to you.

    The point I made is still valid, you can't seem to post anything about an OS feature without some sort of docile flamewar erupting. It's not Slashdot for fuck's sake.

    I reckon you could write a Perl script to generate these comments pages. One bloke says Vista is brilliant, honest, the next says Mac users are smug, another one says Windows crashes all the time. Next guy can do it all with a shell script, next guy says it would never happen on VMS, blah blah. Just remember to add some random spelling mistakes and you'd be hard pushed to tell the difference.

    We know already. Give it a rest.

  39. Sabon

    Jane you ignorant slut

    It is sooooo completely obvious that you nay sayers just don't get it.

    It's not about the backing up. It's about RESTORING from backup. It's been reported that only about 4% of people regularly backup their data because it is a complete pain in the ### to find and restore the files you want.

    Backing up is easy. Restoring is HARD.

    I can pretty much bet that most of you posting don't and haven't actually backed up your data regularly. I'm sure you'll post here that you do but I expect you to lie and say you do.

    As for RAID guy. Yeah right. Like everyone is going to setup a RAID system on their computers. Have you seen the expression "ROFL". I'm sure you have.

    "My Vista X64 Business has NEVER crashed on me". Again. ROFL. Vista X64 which you've had for HOW long? ROFL It WILL crash. Let us know then how easy it was to restore everything. Or how about restoring a file or folder. Let's have you walk your mom through it. I DARE you to videotape your mom restoring something for you. Believe me we'll put it up on YouTube where we can laugh about it.

    As for his hard drive having a problem? I started supporting PCs in 1983. I long ago lost track of how many hard drives have had formatting problems on PCs. Even in the last two or three years. Then then I actually do this for a living. The tech department I work for supports about 10,000 people. You?

    Most of you that have posted need to actually use different backup systems and restore individual files, folders, and full restores. Then you need to do the same thing with TimeMachine. Not read about it but actually do it with all of them. Maybe then you will get a clue. Then walk non-techie family members through it and see which one is easiest for them to use. I'm pretty sure I know which one they will choose. Cheesy graphic effects and all.


    The people (family and friends) that I support have never backed up regularly. When I've set something up so that they can (to backup tape, external drive, or to shared areas on other computers around their house - whatever), they fail to insert that next tape or CD.

    Let's so they did actually insert the next tape or CD. Now they have to tell me where to find the stack of tapes or CDs and then I have to have them tell me how long ago they knew they had a file and I spend a bunch of time restoring it for them.

    Not any longer.

    I preordered Leopard and it arrived about 11:15 on D day which is over six hours before you could buy it in stores.

    The only problem I've had was from having previously back in the day installed Logitech mouse/keyboard drivers which used APE. It wasn't long before someone on the Apple message boards already had a fix. Bad Logitech. Not bad Apple.

    No other problems.

    I have a 750 gb external HDD partitions unequally into three partitions. Two of the partitions are shared so that my other two Macs can backup to TimeMachine while the HDD is connected to my main iMac. It works great.

    Once TimeMachine finished I purposely duplicated a folder and clicked on "Backup Now" by right clicking on the TimeMachine icon on my Dock (which I love). It took a very short time to backup that folder. I then did "the TimeMachine thing" as my sister calls it and very easily restored the folder by going to the parent folder, clicking on TimeMachine, typing in the folder name, and up it pops and the restore popped my folder and data right back.

    If you can fall down, you can restore files on TimeMachine.

    I then took my iMac and external HDD over to my sister's house. She is very computer phobic. She never strays outside her web browser, e-mail, Nisus Writer, Quicken, and iPhoto. She is one of the worst in backing up her files and misplacing backup disks/tapes.

    While she watched I deleted the folder again. I then walked her through restoring a file without me touching the computer.

    "Cool" she said.

    We went onto Apple's website and ordered Leopard for her. It arrived about five days later. While we were waiting for it to arrive I took her to a local Fryes and had her buy an external hard drive. I partitioned it into two partitions, backed up her hard drive with Carbon Copy Cloaner (CCC) then used my own Leopard install disc to install to upgrade her iMac AFTER making sure that APE wasn't installed on her computer.

    No problems with the install and no problems with her computer since.

    I've repeated that process 16 times since then. Not one Mac (several were six years old) failed to upgrade properly. But then again, I just made sure that all were backed up externally first (CCC) and that APE wasn't installed.

    Two problems are fixed.

    1) I no longer have to worry about their backups.

    2) If they do have a question, it is now much easier with all of us having Leopard to remotely connect and see what they need help with.

    And restoring files? They actually purposely delete files, contacts in their address book, etc, just to have the fun of restoring files. When was the last time you read that?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Fraser - here's good article on TM and its internals


    Ars Technica did a very detailed review of Leopard (warts and all) and the Time Machine part of it is here:

    Basically Apple have modified the Unix system underneath to allow hard links to directories, something that was (I think) never done before (at least in Unix).

    They also added a notification system so that apps can register and get callbacks about various types of filesystem events. Put them together and you can make Time Machine-like stuff.

    The article explains it much better than I can, of course.

  41. Mark Rowles

    It's all a bit sad innit

    I've got Vista, XP, OS X 1.5, SuSE Linux, Mandrake Linux on various machines, and to be truly honest with you they're all as good/bad as each other.

    I've no idea why people get so worked up about all this - nor why people don't expect bugs in software - even with the most diligent testing something always slips through.

    Why not just give TM time to settle in. And no, I'm not advocating releasing applications just for people to find the bugs, but realizing that no one team can find every bug.

    Familiarity always leads people to miss areas, and having others out in the rest of the world look at it is only achievable by releasing it.

    You can be assured that the first unfamiliar user will do something you didn't expect and it'll all go bang!

    But I will say one thing having spent time "fiddling" with the Vista, XP and Linux backup solutions, TM is by far the most transparent, and it's nice just to forget about it all.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    my $0.02

    I'm primarily a windows IT consultant who just started playing with macs. I can categorically say that until Vista Business/Ultimate there hasn't been a built in backup system that let's you do per-file restores as well as full image restore from bootable media.

    For the latter the only option was 3rd party - V2i protector/symantec bex sys recovery/etc; or ntbackup with a reinstall, re-patch and restore from ntbackup.

    Unfortunately in Vista that functionality is not available in Home basic or Home Premium (which is the market where i thought most pc's would be backed up as, barely any corporation backs up their pc's but rather ensures no data is on them in the first place.

    So timemachine can do both, and for my personal machine i think it's great. HOWEVER, that it didn't restore from the boot cd for the reviewer is very bad! I successfully did so on mine, but still it should work EVERYTIME. Also, TimeMachine is not a robust solution for locked and open files, particularly databases of any kind (like email dbs, or various app's dbs *cough* aperture *cough*)

    So i think TimeMachine is a great feature for home pcs, but that's it. I guess it's lucky that that's where Apple is pitching this.

    Anyway, feel free to blast me for liking time machine... i mean it's not like i've worked with countless backup systems from ntbackup, over backup exec, TSM (which rocks my world), etc, so what do i know

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    You started supporting PCs in 1983, so why do you sound like a chile throwing a tantrum because someone said something you didn't like. Put your dummy back in and go and sit in the corner like a good boy.

    Apple fans are soooo funny and incredibly easy to wind up

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Sabon

    Now try cleaning all that mess you made off your keyboard.

  45. Steven Hewittt


    The implementation is good technically (well, 2 out of three attempts failed but I see your point) - but it's only good if the end user KNOWS to plug in a USB HD. The OS is great in setting it all up - better than Vista and much better than Linux - but no matter how easy it is, the end user MUST plug in some external hardware.

    To do this, if your not into computers at all - just want it to work - then the feature is about as much use as every other standard bit of backup software.

    There's nothing special - it's an DIFFERENTIAL backup that automatically kicks off when an external HD is plugged in. The single instance storage feature (so it looks like it's from the same backup set) is a really good idea - and one of the best bits of it. Can't give too much credit as other platform and apps have been using this for years.

    Point is that yeah, it's pretty cool. But only if the user knows it's there. If they don't then it's useless. So the argument of comparing it to Vista is null - if a user wants to backup they will ask a techie friend of google it. Once that's been done, both Vista and OSX implementation are equally easy. (Three clicks in Vista as opposed to the 1 in OSX - although you can fully configure it in Vista so it's pretty balanced out)

    Given the competition out there, plus the 2 out of 3 failures on the restore how can the author possibly justify 95%?

  46. Thomas

    Re: Robert Long

    "Time Machine is a classic example of Apple getting themselves and their sad fans excited about something that the rest of the world finds trivial and has been doing for decades. I had a similar app running on an old Vax 15 years ago."

    I think perhaps you've missed the point of what El Reg are doing: a review of a single feature of an OS. Commentary that follows is then likely to be about opinions of that feature.

    "Meanwhile, Mac users have to put up with unmaintainable hardware and a selection of software that's second to all."

    Ignoring the obvious observation that your attempt to take the discussion way off-topic implies you haven't understood what we're talking about...

    Macs are POSIX compliant, OS X is a certified UNIX and OS X is the only desktop OS on which users can run OS X, X11 and Windows applications simulataneously. So what on earth is the software that "Mac users have to put up with" second to? A subset of the same software run on other machines?

    "Dreadful company, dreadful products, deadful fans."

    Bait much?

  47. chris

    rsync gui

    er isn't TM the same as having a gui for chron and rsync...

    note that rsync just checks which files have been updated and just backs-up those...

  48. Ian Davies

    @ Chris

    OK, sit 100 average punters down at identical computers, half with Time Machine, and half with RsyncX (also a GUI for rsync) and give them 5 minutes to work out how to back their machine up (and start the process)... then give them another 5 minutes to work out how to restore something (and to actually do it)... I'll bet a tenner that most of the people using TM will accomplish both tasks, but I'll bet a BAZILLION pounds that NONE of the RsyncX'ers (average users, remember) will have gained the confidence in RsyncX's interface to be sure that they have successfully backed their computers up, nor will they have the confidence to be sure how to restore something, in the same period of time.

    Therein lies the real value of a feature like Time Machine.

    Note that I'm not trying to claim that average users could *never* suss out RsyncX, I'm just saying that the immediacy of TM gives a confidence in, and therefore an incentive to do what is, for most people, a complex work of voodoo.

  49. Nexox Enigma

    On Linux...

    It took me about 8 minutes to cron up a job that would make a backup copy of essential data, then commit all of that to SVN. That means that I can use a lovely web interface to view all the history of all of my important files.

    Plus it is completely portable, tuneable, and reliable.

    And it works nicely even on boxes that lack a display.

    And it works over the network to my file server.

    And I've never had any OS related issues that make the backups necessary at all.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Big Deal

    Sounds to me like the author was just so relieved at getting his data back that he had to immediately bust out an account of his near brush with disaster. That's 95% of relief, fellas, not objective review.

    And Mac fanatics, yes, we all get that you love your shiny toys that "just work" third time round. Apple are just doing what they do best which is blaring trumpets and firing cannons to announce an over-simplified feature that's been around for years. Time Machine is a full + incrememental backup system and, accessibility issues aside, is nothing new. Credit to the interface, for sure, but it's nothing new.

    And besides, Volume Shadow Copy has the ability to perform granular, block level copies of your volumes the moment changes occur. This means only the changes to your files are recorded the moment they happen, not the entire files at predetermined intervals. This reduces the backup space needed, the time needed to copy them and the disk-writes needed to make the copies. Modify files on your Mac several times within the hour and your backup is the copy taken during the last sync. With VSC you open it up and pick the exact version of the file you wish to revert to, even if it was changed seconds ago. Now THAT'S a Time Machine in my book, but as usual Apple give something quite rudimentary a fancy name and a cute backdrop and suddenly all the dumb-arse Mac users are hailing it as revolutionary.


  51. Anonymous Coward

    I don't know anything about Macs or TM, but about "rsync/rsnapshot/find/dd" & stuff, yes.

    So whenever I read someone saying "It took me about N minutes to cron up stuff to do stuff" I wanna hurl pizza bigtime. Anyone who "takes about 8 minutes" to do that sort of thing either:

    1) has done sysadmin tasks over the past 3 years and can read follow his own how-to's painstakingly written down in his own wiki


    a) is a wild-blue-eyed believer in his powers to understand non-trivial command line invocations of potentially misbehaving software and

    b) is talking out of his ass and

    c) has not run any backup/restore tests

    and thus needs to be driven away from complex machinery with a rubber hose.

  52. Jerry

    Suggestion for evil graham

    regarding your problems... "I found this because, guess what, it doesn't work for me with my G5 PowerMac and (brand new) Western Digital My Book combo. The backup just craps out with some unknown error and never gets to complete."

    Make sure that the disk is partitioned using either the Apple Partition Map or GUID (required for intel) rather than the "Master Book Record" that I believe My Books are by default.

    System profiler will show you the format quickly, and Disk Utility will let you (destructively) re-partition.

  53. t3h
    Jobs Halo


    >Gee, for just the price of buying an extra device you can make use of a backup feature. Lovely.

    >Why not just have a RAID 1 system in the first place if you're going to run two drives?


    I think you were so eager to bash Apple here that you completely missed the point of what a backup system even does. Backing up your files onto the same hard drive is kinda pointless, isn't it?

    As for running RAID 1 - on a desktop, maybe. And the user can do that if they desire - OS X supports it. But what about the laptop user who is now forced to drag their external drive round with them? Sure RAID can work with only one of the drives present, but when you unhook the other, the RAID has to be rebuilt when it is reconnected. Since the rebuild process is basically synchronising the two drives... a backup of sorts.

    Time Machine, on the other hand, stores incremental copies on the external drive and provides a very easy to use and intuitive interface to browse them with. This is in the true Apple fashion - sometimes they are not the first to offer that kind of software (let's face it, backup software has been around for a long while) - but they are often the first to make it usable by the average person. I'm not talking one of us - but the average person who wouldn't know how to do a backup otherwise, or use a computer. The kind of person who wouldn't understand a shell script to do the same thing that many others on here are claiming to be just as good.

  54. Tim Hogard

    Backup on the same with bootcamp's help

    I used boot-camp to create a partition which I then reformatted and set up as a time machine partition. It won't protect me against hard drive failure but it does protect against accidental file deletions and application bugs. You need about 110% of the size of the data you expect to backup.

  55. David Wilkinson

    A step in the right direction, but the backup needs to improve.

    They just need to add the ability to do a full disc/partition image to any system device while the OS is running.

    On the PC I keep my personal data and OS on separate partitions, and backup my OS with True Image while windows is running.

    I can restore using a boot CD and it always works.

    I used retrospect to backup my documents. There you want to keep track of multiple file versions....

    Both types of backup are needed.

    Also RAID 1 is hardware redundancy not backup. I have my documents on a RAID 1 array, but that won't help if I screw up my financial spreadsheet and need to consult last weeks version.

    Of course I use True Image and Retrospect which didn't come free with my OS.

    Anyway step in the right direction for OSX they just need to get the bugs out and add some live drive imaging options to the mix.

  56. Subtilior

    rsync vs Time Machine.

    rsync compares checksums on every file that may have been updated. i.e. it needs to open every single file that isn't obviously different, both on the source and the target disk.

    Time Machine uses Leopard's FS Event facility to record changes to the file system (at the directory level), meaning that when the time comes to perform the backup, where is much less work to be done. As per the Ars Technica review:

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Backup and restore methods...

    What caused the problem in the reviewer's case was that the backed up copy was damaged too, because it was taken from an already damaged system. And the backup software didn't notice it, or suggested an older restore point.

    What he did, was first trying the same thing as the last good configuration option for xp. It didn't work, tried it again, failed again. Then he tried the reinstall, except winxp doesn't need an external drive and can restore the system while keeping all the data in place. Most winxp users use the first feature without being aware of it because the system restore function does this exactly, and most of the time automatically after a crash or power failiure. Non professional winxp users mostly notice the longer load time, but that's all. Turning on the /SOS kernel switch makes windows boot like a linux box, with all the info scrolling on the screen. This way users can see the system restore in action.

    The final solution was to reinstall and copy over the data, which is the 2nd option on the cd for system recovery and windows still does this in place. Windows also has the option to back up to any place, including a spare disk or partition inside the machine, an external drive or to a network storage. This backup function was present in older versions, afaik it was even included in the dos tools package. (win9x even had a gui version of it)


    One of my friends usually turn off his system by stomping on the switch on the power strip. His system is doing an automated recovery almost on every boot and he didn't even notice it for years.

  58. Andy Worth

    Lol - OS death after 2 weeks, 3 attempts to restore...

    ....Go cry, fanboys

  59. Steve Button Silver badge

    What if someone steals your machine?

    OK. These backups to an external drive are all fine and dandy if your system gets screwed, but what about if someone steals your machine? (and they would probably not be kind enough to leave the external drive behind).

    I don't know why I'm bothering writing this as you'd have to be really sad/bored to get down through the 58 other lame comments about how you CAN force a backup, but hey.

    Other likely cause is a fire in your house.

    I'd like to be able to get my Mac to backup to the external drive connected to my XP machine, which is out in the garage. Anyone know how I can do that easily? Enough with the talking to myself already.


  60. Anonymous Coward

    @Andrew Rennard

    Actually, if you'd been paying attention you would have seen that the "find" script is designed to run every 5 minutes, not every hour. Personally, I find this to be the sort of time interval I need when working on most projects - designs, text, or programming. It can be (and is, in practice) tuned to ignore things like swapfiles and the various working files and directories that some programs create while open, but I cut that out for clarity.

    And, as I also said, the example 1-line of code is in use on my Linux machines and several MACS (slightly modified to handle the different version of "cp" on the Mac) and has been for years. This is not a theoretical script. It works just dandy, partly because the time interval is so short that things tend to be in the system cache.

    I suspect that you haven't thought through what Time Machine actually does in the background. It almost certainly isn't tagging every single file on the system for a notification otherwise bootup would take a very long time.

    It's probably tagging one or two levels of directories and then, when they're listed as having changed, running a process on those directories to find the specific files. A process very like "find", in fact.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I got half way though the comments and just lost the will to read any further.

    The reviewer didnt give 10.5 95% he gave time Machine 95%!

    This looks like a hardware issue not a software issue, I would say his hard drive is screwed.

    Time Machine worked as advertised, was simple to use, had a nice (if some what cheesy) interface.

    I felt the review was honest and forth comming, he didnt have to mention the two failures, I personally would have gone stright for the reformat option anyway.

    10.5 has issues, wow what a surprise please excuse me while my little fantasy of perfect programmers at Apple disintergrates into dust, I will need to find a dark room to have a cry in for 5minutes.

    I think 3 Kernal panics in 7 years is a good record, I wonder how many times in the last year my win2000 box has failed to boot (which i think is a hardware issue not software) and how many times it has hung or crashed? I think I would put that at something like 3 times a week.

    Guess what, I will be getting a Mac in the new year. I wont be upgrading my win2000 machine to Vista, MS should give up on polishing its turd.

    Just as an aside, I wonder what kind of spec machine you need to make shadow copy and aero work in a smooth usuable manner?

    proud to be an anonymouse coward!

  62. Robert Long

    @Steve Button

    "I'd like to be able to get my Mac to backup to the external drive connected to my XP machine, which is out in the garage. Anyone know how I can do that easily?"

    Could you not mount the XP's drive as a Samba/Windows/WhateverItsCalledThisWeek share and set Time Machine (or whatever you use) to back up to that?

  63. Anonymous Coward

    @Gerry - Thanks for the tip

    I tried all those things - freshly partitioned with and without GUID, mounted the disk alternately via Firewire and USB2, disabled Bluetooth, renamed my machine without apostrophes or spaces.

    So far, no joy.

    So it looks like Time Machine is a nifty (but for me, unusable) technology. If I get it going I'll let you know.

  64. Simon Greenwood

    re: re: Two Cheers

    Chris, I did suspect that that might be the case, although the 'until the disk is full' bit is a little misleading. The machine in question isn't on all the time, or indeed doing much at the moment so I won't be able to test it much but we'll see how it goes.

  65. Julian

    Only 95%

    Three hours to restore a flaky hard-drive on a consumer machine using the generalised, vendor default configuration is astonishing. I don't find the two false starts difficult to believe: if there is a dodgy super-block record or some other system level data error, the disc may be OK but the file system may be corrupt and a fresh install will be the fastest way to reliably recover.

    This wasn't a restore of a single file on a working system, this was a restore of a complete working system on a corrupted hard drive.

    For what it is worth: creating multiple links/names of directories by privileged processes is part of the original Unix specification and were necessary before the rename(2) system call was introduced They were used to rename directories and the reason mv(1) was suid root. Solaris still allows privileged processes to create links to directories and Mac OS has simply re-enabled the feature.

  66. Martin Lee
    Jobs Halo

    Of course linux/windows/bsd can do this

    But it's not easy.

    I've been doing it for years. rsync to an rsync server, then ln back in time, so that you have multiple revisions of your files without taking up more space. Or use CVS/SVN/WebDAV/whatever you want.


    I am a professional sysadmin. Your mother probably isn't (and most of the Anonymous Cowards here don't seem to be either), though she (and you) can use Time Machine. The point isn't whether or not it's possible, it's how easy it is to use. If you don't need to use Time Machine then don't. You don't have to pay for it either, you can run Linux, be happy, and shut up. The Time Machine fans are fans because they can spend more time doing things they want to do instead of writing backup scripts.

    And as for RAID 1, yeah, go ahead, run that. Then delete an important file by mistake (and don't say you never have) and cry. It's not a backup.

  67. jeremy gardner

    Time Machine - turn it off

    I am fairly sure that the reviewer's problem was caused by time machine. I solved the same problem much more easily. I ran disk warrior (now that really is a one stop piece of software for mac owners) and deactivated Time Machine. Time machine seemed to have damaged the directory and altered the permissions (prior to running time machine, everything had been 100% ok according to both the disc utility and disk warrior).

    My advice - deactivate time machine and use some other software (super duper, for example when shirt pocket have finalised their Leopard version or the software supplied by La Cie if you have one of their drives. Also, purchase Disk Warrior anyway.

    P.S I actually like the cheesy presentation though.

  68. Chad H.

    Of course backup is nothing new..

    But making it accessable to everyone is. If a backup is seamless and effortless, more people are likely to use it, and if its easy to restore, thats a bonus.

    as for people saying "Oh wow, one mac failed, all must be bad"... Grow up. One mac failed = one mac failed. Still a better reliability rate than the 'Doze. Bringing the strength and security of Unix to the Everyman should me commended.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Volume Shadow Copy

    Just sounds like Volume Shadow Copy, which has been in Windows for several years. Easy enough to set up something simlar manually with scheduled robocopy jobs as well.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re:Of course linux/windows/bsd can do this

    "But it's not easy."

    Yes it is. Buy Linux Server Hacks and type in the code to get minimised daily backups going back as far as you want to spend storage on it;It's less than one page of a5. For the shorter term backups use the 1-liner cronjob above.

    Is that hard?

    If by "hard" you mean "on a par with moving the mouse" then, yes, a bit. But if you mean "on a par with editing a playlist in iTunes" then, no, its not really.

    Just because your mother's never tried to learn something does not mean that she'd find it difficult. Don't assume users are morons until they confirm it - especially if they happen to be your mother!

    The Xerox windows system that gave birth to the windows systems at Apple and Microsoft told a great fat lie: point and grunt makes everything easy and by extension if you can't do it with a mouse then it must be rocket science for the high priests to handle. This just isn't the case. If you conquered your fear of simple commands like "find" and "ln" you would discover that they are EASIER than the silly GUI versions, and what's more, they're already there on your Mac and you can make them do things without having to wait for Steve to bump them up his personal priority list.

    Well, anyway, I'm sure you're never going to try thinking outside the little box with the fruit gums stuck on it, so forget I said anything: Time Machine is clearly a perfect solution for everyone who owns a computer and doesn't want to use it to its fullest capacity. Apple Mac - the world's most stylish room heaters.

  71. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Re:Of course linux/windows/bsd can do this

    Dear Anonymous,

    So your mum, Mrs Coward, has a copy of "Linux Server Hacks" to hand does she?

    Taking your arguments to their logical conclusion, we don't really need a GUI at all. Not just us techies, you mean nobody needs one. Sounds very much like 1983 to me.

    Honestly, I am well acquainted with find and ln on a professional basis and I *could* use them to rustle up some homebrew backup, but guess what - I can't be arsed.

    I know how my car engine works for that matter, but I have no intention of interacting with it using spanners. I just turn the key and go places - and if it breaks for some reason I take it to somewhere where they fix that stuff and give them some money. Life's too short.

    I reckon loads of us are dying to hear about the slick user-friendly apps that you develop, on room heaters or indeed any other computer. Seriously.

  72. El Greg

    Kernal Panics

    I had two kernal panics on my MacBook Pro since I purchased it (6 mos ago). It's highly recommended that you have the hard drive completely replaced (Apple Store only informed of this after it happened the _second_ time). I started using an online backup service (Mozy) and then backing up my MacBook to the same external as my other home PC via a free utility from Lacie called SilverKeeper. That way everything from both computers is on the external HD and it's all backed up online to Mozy every night at 2am. My next idea is to use Time Machine and then back the Time Machine HD up to the external and hence to the web via Mozy as well - it's always a good idea to keep your backups elsewhere!

  73. Paul The Half Swiss

    Leopard, Time Machine . . . in all honesty

    I'm glad I queued up on the launch day for the sheer occassion of it all. That I wanted to pick up a multi-user version of Leopard was a by-product. Had it been cheaper on Amazon, perhaps I'd have merely been an onlooker that day but that's besides the point . . .

    Am I happy with Leopard, is the question a lot of Mac users are asking. A lot will lie to themselves with their answer. I'm not UNhappy, but I'm not sure I wasn't happier with 10.4.10 - don't get me wrong, it's doing what I want it to do and Time Machine is lovely. But, like anything, there are niggles with it being a new operating system. Some are due to incompatible software (Skype anyone???) whilst others are simply learning curves for the user - try doing a CTRL-Right Arrow within Excel to reach the end of the data range whilst Spaces is active!

    The fact is, Leopard is going to be better when it reaches 10.5.2 and whether you upgrade now or later is simply down to one question . . . do you want to go through a little bit of an uncomfortable patch to be one step ahead of the game in three months time?

    I've upgraded two of our three Macs . . . the MacBook Pro is staying on Tiger for now, thank you very much! Best of both worlds for me!

  74. Gerrit Tijhof
    Jobs Halo


    Firstly: I love you all, thank you for replying. It's been a joyous read and my weekend starts with a light heart. Secondly TM is something my grandmother would use before I could explain the word "backup" to her. There. Okay, so this fine gentleman had problems with his complete installation. Well, poor him. Teaches him to install a dot-zero release. Pah!


    Steve, iLoveU!!1!

  75. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    By eck, there's some id10ts about !

    Why is it that only ONE person in all the above comments is capable of seeing what the initial problem is likely to have been ?

    Yes, the restore failed first time around - could it perhaps be that the crash that made the machine unbootable had been caused by a damaged system file BEFORE the last backup ? As for the second attempt, well same problem, so same result. What do we conclude ? Well if you backup a damaged file, you'll end up with a copy of a damaged file !

    Doing a fresh install and restore user data from backup would have put fresh copies of the system files on the machine and dealt with that problem.

    Now, to all those "I could do that with a one-line rsync command" trolls - no you couldn't ! If you think you could then you need to find somewhere that sells clues, could you haven't got one ! Yes, you can use rsync to make ONE copy of the LATEST version, but a one liner to make a series of backups, all individually accessible, and all hard-linked together - pull the other one. That's the thing about TM, it makes MULTIPLE BACKUPS, each one of which is a complete backup in it's own right. Yes you CAN do it with rsync, but you'll need some scripting to manage the multiple versions etc - and it will be as slow as treacle as it searches the whole hard disk every time. Yes I DO know rsync, I use it extensively.

    Does Windows shadow copy (or whatever) REALLY do that, or just keep n-versions of each file in a big heap ? And does it do it on separate disk so your files are still available when the disk dies ?

    PS - Unix has had hard links for as long as I can remember, but HFS+ doesn't - that's why they've had to modify the file system to support TM.

    PPS - And the reason for not supporting network storage ? Probably because very few network storage appliances will have the fidelity of file metadata to store the system files in a manner that the system could be faithfully restored from the backup. Given this, it's a lot easier to say "no network drives" that to say "only network drives supporting x, y, and z features" that will simply confuse most consumers.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Um, doesn't Vista do this...

    Quote from the MS site:

    "To help make protecting your files as convenient as possible, with Automatic Backup, you can back up your files to an external hard drive, secondary hard drive, writable CD or DVD, or to a network location. Best of all, Windows Vista will automatically make backups of your data on the schedule that you set, so you never have to worry about forgetting to back up your work.

    Previously backed-up versions of files use only a bare minimum of disk space. If only a small part of a file changes (such as one slide in a presentation), only that portion gets tracked and saved.

    Of course, backup is only as useful as the process you use to recover your work, and Windows Vista makes this a cinch. A recovery wizard helps you select the files or folders you want to restore and prompts you for the backup storage medium you used. Then it restores your files.

    By the way, if you've accidentally written over a file, say saving an older version of a report you're writing over the top of a newer version, then the Shadow Copy feature can help you recover a prior version of that file."

    This is identical to Time Machine - the difference is purely that Vista is a touch more complicated to setup. It's wizard based and there's no techy options, and it obviously gives greater flexibility regarding location. (network, CD/DVD, external HD etc.)

    And yes - it uses single instance versions, so it takes up very little space, and it also has your versions recorded too - just like TM.

  77. Anonymous Coward

    @SImon Hobson (and others): Re: Macs & Filesystems

    NB: I am *not* comparing an end-user tool such as TM to features from a high-end NOS, just FYI for those who may be interested.

    If your dir happens to be shared from ZFS, then multiple versions, dated versions which don't overwrite each other, etc. are possible, even from a client with only e.g. NFS/Samba mounts, without much work. Not to mention the various RAID-like features for JBODs, iSCSI support, etc, etc. No worries with whether your storage device is local or remote.

    Incidentally, I have yet to read the Ars Technica doc or ask my Mac friend: Is Mac OS X using ZFS yet? Because this looks very like a nice GUI to those features.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Simon Hobson - hard links

    Good points.

    Regarding hard links, you are right, Unix has had them since time immemorial, but *not* usually for directories. The GNU coreutils info page says:

    > On all existing implementations, you cannot

    > make a hard link to a directory, and hard links

    > cannot cross file system boundaries. (These

    > restrictions are not mandated by POSIX, however.)

    HP makes a similar point when talking about openVMS:

    "OpenVMS supports hard links, or aliases, to directories as well as to files. Most UNIX systems limit hard links to normal files only."

    And Wikipedia (God, I hate myself for quoting it) says:

    "Most modern operating systems don't allow hard links on directories to prevent endless recursion."

    As for HFS+, it doesn't have a "native" hard link structure internally but it does fake that feature for you, so the "ln" command on OS X works like you'd expect it to on any Unix. AFAIK it has always had this. So for TM, they just allowed hard links to directories, that's all.

    Regarding the lack of support for networked backup via TM, Apple apparently pulled this at the last minute due to "reliability problems". Apparently the feature did exist in earlier developer releases. Most people seem to think this feature will be coming back one day, hopefully *after* the reliability issues are ironed out.

    BTW, I know this is a very old thread but I did eventually get it working, by a combination of removing the apostrophe from my machine name, reformatting the disk with APM and leaving the machine untouched while it did its initial backup.

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