Apple released an awesome backup feature called Time Machine back in 2007 when OS X 10.5 Leopard was introduced. Why? Essentially Apple spent the decade building awesome computers in the digital life concept of music, photos, and movies. Apple likely realized that backup solutions, aside from cloning the entire computer, were a bit heavy and hard(ish) to implement by general users. With Time Machine, Apple essentially made a backup solution that’s easy-to-use, works in the background, and is essentially “plug in and forget about it”. “Backup made easy,” if you will.
The amazing thing Time Machine does is that it creates incremental backups, allowing you to step back in time to a previous version of a file. This feature has saved my butt more than a few times when I’ve accidentally overwritten a master Photoshop file, or whenever an important file goes missing. I can just go into to Time Machine and retrieve it from the past.
Time Machine also does a massively valuable trick… it’ll let you restore your Mac to a previous state in the OS. Yup, you can make your Mac go back in time as a whole as well!
Why would you need to do this? Well I needed it recently because the latest Apple Software update caused my 2010 MacBook Pro at home to not wake from sleep correctly. I tried a ton of fixes, such as making sure nothing else was connected, to reinstalling the update to no avail. If the Mac was asleep longer than a few minutes, it wouldn’t wake up.
What bugged me more was that the Mac was 100% perfect before the update. So I plugged my Time Machine drive in, and booted Lion into recovery mode by holding down the “option” key during a restart. I selected the recovery disk that comes up, and with the Time Machine drive connected, I was asked what version I wanted to take my Mac back to. The convenient little screen showed dates and OS versions.
(Tip, if you’re using a previous version of Mac OS X, you can boot from the install DVD to get “restore from Time Machine” options.)
Since my issue was with OS X 10.7.3, I stepped back to the version prior to that. Roughly two hours later, I had a perfect working Mac back again. It woke up from sleep with external drives and a monitor connected without a hitch.
Since Time Machine came out, I’ve pretty much viewed an external drive dedicated to Time Machine as a must have for every Mac I own. Amazingly though, I still come across people who are still doing slow manual backups to optical disks or other media, or – worse yet – don’t have a back-up at all!
Time Machine supplies so much usefulness beyond just backing up data, while at the same time being relatively light by working in the background, it’s a recommendation I give to anyone who hasn’t yet started backing up their precious data. If you’re the tech evangelist among your group of friends, family, or co-workers, you may want to reach out and extoll the virtues of a good Time Machine backup.
If you haven’t yet started backing up your Mac, I can’t recommend this enough… get a good external drive and use Time Machine. It has just been so helpful with “set it and forget it” peace of mind for me which, being moderately lazy at home computing, I love that it doesn’t add much overhead in maintenance.
Backing up data has never been easier.
Do you use Time Machine or have another backup plan? Let us know.