MaCinJay’s Musings

another case of inverse vandalism

Posts Tagged ‘Apple Mail

Mac OS X Leopard: Time Machine

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In October last year I related how I inadvertently blew my iMac’s logic board. Reluctant to pay the steep repair bill I decided instead to buy a MacBook Pro to replace it. I never regretted this decision but the one drawback was that I had to make do without the data stored on the iMac until such time as C3 (the repair shop I took the unit to) finally got around to extracting its hard drive for installation into an external enclosure. Eventually I got my data back last Friday, which I proceeded to migrate to my MacBook Pro.

This left me with a 250 GB external hard drive to try out Time Machine, Leopard’s new back-up utility. I’ll be honest, like many others I find backing up data to be a tedious chore. As a result my efforts were patchy to say the least. (Fortunately however I used an online back-up service called Mozy to back up my most essential data a few weeks before my iMac crashed.) With Time Machine though Apple has not only taken the tedium out of the process, it has actually made it fun.

It’s also easy to use – as soon as you plug in your your external hard drive Time Machine will give you the option to use it to back up your data. After I began the process it took several hours to back up the sixty or so gigabytes of data from my MacBook Pro using a USB 2 connection. In the meantime though I was able to carry on using my Mac normally.

The fun part comes once the back-up is finished and you can start playing with the Time Machine interface. (Regrettably I wasn’t able to take a screen-shot as Apple’s Grab application doesn’t work in Time Machine mode.) In keeping with its the sci-fi connotations, Time Machine has a very futuristic feel about it. When you activate the utility it transitions away from the normal OS X desktop environment into a 3D representation of the cosmos, with the active Finder window in the foreground. Behind it are numerous other Finder windows – select one of these and, voila, you are transported back in time to the Finder window as it would have appeared and a particular point in time. (A timescale on the right of the screen lets you keep track of the exact time and date.) If you want to restore a previously-deleted file merely select it and click on the gear icon in the Finder toolbar and click again on the relevant option. (Alternatively you can also delete all back-ups of the file.) You also an option to restore the entire system by clicking a button at the bottom right of the screen. Time Machine also works with Apple’s Mail application – very handy if you need to retrieve that vital email that you stupidly deleted.

Detractors have criticised Time Machine for using too much eye-candy. No doubt that Apple could have designed it to resemble your average run-of-the-mill back-up utility. But what would the point be in that? For me Time Machine succeeds in part because it delivers that ooh-ah factor that Apple is renowned for. It also makes backing-up an easy exercise for people like me who didn’t have the inclination or discipline to do proper back-ups in the past!

Written by macinjay

March 4, 2008 at 9:32 pm