The long (and short term) benefits of sunscreen backing up your data regularly has been nothing short of proven by scientists. The feeling of losing a photo, a document, or anything else irreplaceable is horrifying to me, and the fact that people some people still don’t back up their computers appalls me. Therefore, here and now, I could not be any more proud of Apple, who has made regular backup the centerpiece of Mac OSX Leopard. They call it Time machine, and the name is about as revolutionary as the approach.
Time Machine, both automatically and regularly, backs up your data to an external drive invisibly, running in the background and keeping track of the files you delete. Hourly back ups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, weekly backups until your external drive is full.
This is extremely helpful, logical, and needed. But does this great feature render my favorite backup application – SuperDuper – useless? No. Here’s why:
Although Time Machine is a great approach to data backup, and is ideal for those looking for a quick and simple way to keep their data safe, one needs to remember what Time Machine doesn’t do. It doesnt create bootable backups, meaning that if ***knock on wood*** hard drive failure ever does occur, the process for system and file restoration after getting a new hard drive involves the following:
- Finding your Leopard Install Disc (if you even have it available)
- Reinstalling OSX (a couple hours if you install the languages)
- Restoring from a Time Machine Backup on your external
On the other hand, with your system backed up with SuperDuper, the restoration process involves the following:
- Booting you complete system from your external drive
- Running SuperDuper to copy your backup to your internal hard drive
As you can see, the SuperDuper restoration method is far superior for hard drive failure not only because it does not require any additional hardware (such as the Leopard Install DVD), but also because it gets you back into your fully functioning system immediately. By booting off of your external back up, you can delay getting a new hard drive if one is not available to you, and continue to work off of the external. With Time Machine, assuming you have your Leopard DVD with you (a pretty hefty assumption), you still have to go out and get a new hard drive, install it, and then sit and wait while Leopard completely reinstalls.
Now I don’t get me wrong Time Machine does everything it promises: it backs up your data for pretty much any unforeseeable disaster that can happen. In fact, Time Machine goes beyond this purpose, and allows you to retrieve individual files that you may have deleted some time in the past. This is not only quite amazing, its also something SuperDuper can do.
To make this even simpler, take a look at the stats:
Alright, enough winding back and fourth. What’s the verdict? My belief is this:
- If you use nothing else, use Time Machine out of pure simplicity
- If you want quick recovery from hard drive failure, use SuperDuper
- If you want both, use both.
What am I going to use? I will use both because I like the idea of restoring files I delete in the past and old versions of files. I also like my computer up and running immediately if it crashes. Using both lets me do both.
I hope that helps, and if you have any questions, let me know in the comments!
[Update]: The second part of this post can be found here.