What is Apple's Time Machine?
Can you offer up a better explanation of the new Time Machine capability that Apple has unveiled for its upcoming Mac OS X 10.5 operating system? I've read that it's some sort of automatically backup system, but don't see how that can work without massive reengineering of the entire Mac OS?
Actually, of all the different upgrades to Mac OS X promised at the 2006 Apple Worldwide Developer's Conference, the new Time Machine seems by far the most useful, even if it isn't the sexiest application on the block for the new Leopard release.
Why? Because it addresses a problem that every computer user I know has: not having a perfect, automated backup system. Even if you have the extraordinary self-discipline to do a daily backup of the files that have changed that day and a weekly DVD burn of your entire HOME directory, you'll still find that you sometimes forget or skip a weekend backup even though you put in a few hours working on Saturday afternoon.
But I don't know of anyone who is that incredibly self-disciplined anyway, so my own backup strategy is probably more common: once a month - when I remember - I backup my critical files onto a DVD and the rest of the time hope that everything stays running smoothly.
Time Machine automates the entire hassle of backup and can consume a portion of your existing hard disk as a backup space, can work with a second or external drive, or even backup onto a network drive.
One logical conclusion is that very large backup drive arrays are going to become more popular when Leopard is released. I know that I'll be ready to buy a 500GB or larger drive that I can share across my desktop and laptop Mac systems once I can install Mac OS X.5
Where Time Machine really shines, though, is in how it lets you browse through those backups. Traditional backup and restore systems are arcane and quite puzzling and if you want to get the version of a file from two backups ago, rather than the most recent backup, it can be well-neigh impossible to accomplish.
Time Machine, like the cheesy old TV show "Time Tunnel", makes it fun and easy instead, as this screen shot shows:
Image courtesy of Apple Computer, Inc.
There's not much more I can tell you about this unreleased component of the as-yet-still-in-beta Mac OS X 10.5 operating system, code name Leopard, but I can tell you that I'm very ready for Time Machine to arrive on my own computer network!
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