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JoSH Lehan

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Set up Time Machine on Mac [Dec. 13th, 2009|02:42 pm]
JoSH Lehan
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I set up Time Machine on my Mac.

This is something I've wanted to do for a while. I wanted to make a backup of my data, and also, I wanted to be able to have a chance to go back when upgrading from Leopard (10.5) to Snow Leopard (10.6). If you don't have Time Machine, then upgrading to Snow Leopard is a one-way street. There's been talk of some problems with Snow Leopard, so I want to be careful just in case.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need an Apple "Time Capsule" external hard drive, to use Time Machine. Any external hard drive will do!

I bought a Seagate 1TB hard drive, and a generic USB enclosure for it. (The enclosure also supports eSATA, for faster speed, but unfortunately, my Mac doesn't.)

I'm trying something new: spending a little more money and getting an "enterprise" hard drive. There's no difference in hardware manufacture between desktop and enterprise hard drives, except that enterprise drives represent a cull of the drives that performed the very best in testing. They are said to be more reliable, and they do carry a longer warranty. I believe enterprise hard drives have a different firmware version as well. I was concerned that it would be noisier, but it seems fine so far.

The brand-new drive began completely blank (all zeroes). Time Machine is known for being painlessly simple, and popping up automatically, but you need to do a few things first, if you're using a brand-new external drive. To get Time Machine to see it, there are 4 things you must do:

1) Open Disk Utility (a popup box will appear when you first connect the drive, doing this automatically).

2) Select your new external drive, at left. Select "Partition", at top. Choose "1 Partition" from the Volume Scheme pulldown menu.

3) Choose "Options". Choose the "GUID Partition Table" scheme, but if you have an older non-Intel Mac, instead choose "Apple Partition Map". Hit OK.

Avoid "Master Boot Record", this is only for PC use. Unfortunately, many hard drives default to "Master Boot Record", and will need to be changed before they can be used with Time Machine, or there might be problems down the road.

4) In the main window, give your new partition a name, and make sure the type is set to "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)". Hit Apply.

Now, the Time Machine window should pop up! All you need to do is choose "Yes" when it asks you if you want to use this disk for Time Machine, and you're good to go.

Backups will automatically be scheduled to take place in the future. If you're impatient to get started, in the upper right corner of the screen, there will be a new icon, that looks like a clock with a circle around it. Pull down the window and select "Start Backup Now" or something like that. I did that, and it's happily chugging away now. I'll let it run overnight, in order to finish, as when the very first backup takes place, it has to make a copy of everything on your computer, and that takes a long time, especially over USB.

Of course, the true test of any backup system, is: Can it restore? I'll have to remember to test that later....

[User Picture]From: krellan
2010-06-13 03:51 pm (UTC)

Re: What about RAID storage?

RAID probably isn't the best application for this. I wanted to back up to only a single drive, and have something that would remain mostly offline. RAID won't help in the situation where a virus, or careless user mistake, erases or scrambles your data.

I am running Linux software RAID now on one of my computers, to increase the speed and storage space, and make it more reliable against hardware failure of a disk, but I still back up the data somewhere else.
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