Time Machine doesn't get much press attention, but it's one of the best things about OS X
Eye on Apple
By Jim Lynch, CIO
OS X has many great features, but one of them rarely gets much attention in the media: Time Machine. Time Machine is Apple’s backup tool and it comes with every Mac. But you hardly ever hear about it in the media, and that’s a real shame because Time Machine makes backing up and restoring your data incredibly easy and fast.
In this post I’ll show you how to set up Time Machine, and I’ll share my own experiences with it. And I’ll show you some comments by OS X users that help illustrate why Time Machine is one of the best features available in OS X.
How to set up Time Machine in OS X
As I noted above, Time Machine comes with every Mac. To set it up just open System Preferences and then click on Time Machine. You can select the disk you want to hold your backup and you have the option of excluding certain items from being backed up by clicking on the Options button.
And don’t forget that you can encrypt your Time Machine backups to help protect your privacy and the safety of your data.You also have the option of making the Time Machine icon appear in the menu bar at the top of your Mac.
Setting up Time Machine is very easy to do and it doesn’t take long. Time Machine keeps hourly backups for the last 24 hours, daily backups for the last month, and weekly backups for all previous months. And don’t worry about disk space, Time Machine will delete the oldest backups when your disk becomes full.
Why I love Time Machine on my Macs
I’ve used Time Machine for years now, and it has saved me from near disasters a number of times. You see, I like to play with OS X betas. I have an Apple developer account and I can never seem to resist installing beta versions of OS X. Most of the time the betas work pretty well, but I have had a few experiences where I needed to restore my system back to the way it was before I installed a particular OS X beta.
And that’s where Time Machine comes on. It lets me restore my entire system or specific files and folders. So if I have a beta running on one of my Macs, I can easily restore my backed up data via Time Machine.
At this point, I can’t imagine running a desktop computer without something like Time Machine on it. I never have to do anything to get Time Machine to work for me, it just runs in the background doing regular backups day in and day out.
And the backups are always there for me if I need them later on. Time Machine makes backing up the data on your Mac about as easy as it can possibly get.
Why OS X users love Time Machine
Don’t take my word for any of this though, see these comments about Time Machine in a recent thread on Reddit to see how much OS X users appreciate Time Machine:
Maccswe started the thread with this comment:
Installed El Cap beta and had a few to many bugs so for the first time ever since my first Mac (3 years ago) I tried time machine.
Damn Apple made this so simple and easy to use, took me 30 minutes to go back to the day before I installed El Capitan. Kudos to Apple for making a great way to use your backups.
I came from Windows a few years ago and they had nothing like it back then.
Other Apple redditors chimed in with their thoughts about Time Machine:
Sathirtythree: “It’s brilliant when you accidentally delete the wrong set of files. Open time machine, find the file drag it back, carry on. It’s like having bumpers on your bowling lane.”
LizaVP: “One day I turned on my 3,1 MacPro and I forget exactly what it showed me but it was not a happy Mac. Booted from the CD-Rom (I had to poke the button with a paper clip through the holes), started a Time Machine recovery and left. Came back to a working machine. I love Time Machine.”
Ltethe: “I’ve used time machine through 4 laptops now. One of them stolen. It’s amazing, insurance covers the laptop, and time machine brings my old comp back in an hour. Could not live without it.”
Jmnugent: “As a 20yr Windows guy who switched to Apple about 5 years ago… I find it jaw-dropping that most of my Windows-coworkers still don’t get how awesome Time Machine is. It’s like they can’t even conceive that an alternate/better solution may exist somewhere in the Universe. I try to explain/show them… and all they say is “Well yeah.. Windows has backup/restore too!!”..”
GamerTyke: “It’s really not even the same thing. Time Machine is so much more advanced than anything on Windows, especially the built in option.”
Vswr: “What I appreciate about time machine is how it works like iCloud backup for iOS. Drop your phone in the toilet, restore it exactly as it was. Get a shiny new MacBook, restore everything on the new MacBook as it was.”
Jekyl: “Same here. Installed El Cap beta. So many issues. Time Machine back to the day before. 20 minutes later, all good!”
Psyfuzz: “It’s like home insurance, you hope you never have to use it but given the worse case scenario it’s a complete necessity.”
Strong: “I used to take care of the Macs for a small design/build (architecture) company that is run by a friend. They had a break-in one night and their iMac that they do all the Quickbooks on was stolen. Luckily, the thief left the backup drive. They had a new iMac shipped overnight, I did a Time Machine restore, and they were back up and running in less than 48 hours.”
As you can tell from the comments, most OS X users love Time Machine. And it has saved some of them a lot of headaches by making it easy to restore files and folders, or even an entire Mac system.
Kudos to Apple for Time Machine in OS X
Apple has done a very good job with Time Machine, and the company has my thanks for making data backup in OS X a painless experience. Anything that helps encourage people to back up their data to prevent disastrous losses in the event of hardware failure, computer theft, etc, is a very good thing indeed.
You can buy external hard disks you can use with Time Machine on Amazon. If you’re looking for more information on the web about Time Machine, be sure to check out these articles:
Time Machine is a fantastic backup tool that every OS X user should learn how to use. It takes just a couple of minutes to set up, and if disaster strikes you’ll be very glad that you have all of your data backed up in Time Machine.
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