Getting The Most Out Of Time Machine

OK So last post we talked about some back up strategies. Basically different strategies for different work flows with the value of your time and data being the biggest factors. 

I’ve been using Time Machine on my laptop for awhile. It’s easy to set up and forget about it. I wanted Time Machine to backup my documents and media files on my internal drive. But Time Machine’s default setting backup the entire drive. I think restoring your entire drive from a Time Machine backup takes up a lot of time and I don’t know if I trust the way it would reinstall my applications. Instead I’ve only used Time Machine to restore lost files and when doing a clean install I brought over my user files and preferences. 

So how can we get more out of Time Machine? 

1. Limit what gets backed up. Time Machine is a data hog. Because of my classes at I’m down loading several gigs of data each week. Plus podcasts and other video files I create and put a temp version on the desktop. Guess what it all gets backed up to my Time Machine drive. Here’s how: 

  • Open Time Machine Preferences
  • Click on Options. This window lists everything not to backup. If you have other drives by default they should be listed here
  • Start excluding folders and drives you don’t want backed up by clicking on the + button. For me, on my MBP I excluded: Applications, Developer, Digidesign, Library and System. Under my Users folder I excluded the Shared folder. Doing this excluded about 65 GB of data from being backed up. Data that for me I can reinstall if/ when something goes bad. 
  • I don’t keep my personal pictures of my kids and home movies on my internal drive. I use an external drive for that. You can use Time Machine to backup external drives to your Time Machine disk as well. So that’s what I did. I removed that drive from the excluded list and now I’m getting incremental backups of my pictures and home movies. 

2. Control when Time Machine backs up. Time Machine’s options are limited. If you don’t like the default setting of backing up every hour you can change it by manually adjusting a system preference file with a text editor or using Time Machine Editor. This little application allows you to change the backup schedule to your liking. Since it is adjusting a system preference file if you delete this application remember to reset your default setting from setting/ show default settings. 

That’s a quick look into how I’m using Time Machine and my other backup strategies yesterday.


February 12, 2009. Tech Stuff.

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