Mac and Time Machine Backup Question

  • If my cousin did a Time Machine backup on her Mac to an external drive, and then resets the Mac to its factory settings, will the back up still work correctly?

  • @Dominica Basically, yes. Newer the OS X version the better. Caveat is if the Time Machine backup is encrypted.

    If the Mac was reset, why not use Migration Assistant to pull the applications, data, and/or settings? There are caveats to this, notably it ought be the first thing done after such a refresh. Care needs be applied if done later.

  • @Dominica Macs...

  • @RoguePacket
    She hasn't done the reset yet, just wanted to know if she would lose backed up if she did so.

  • @Dominica Time Machine & Migration Assistant ought be the ticket. Quick links—

    OS X level wasn't mentioned. OS X 10.5 is very much on its last legs, and 10.6 is close to being unsupported. Generally, am reticent to move a Mac model too many OS X versions away from the one it shipped. Newer OS X levels work better with more RAM. Apple "lies" about max RAM capacity, check MacSales/OWC &/or EveryMac for prospective maximum RAM of the precise model (usually found by cross-checking the serial number).

    If the Mac is older, say 3-4 years old ... it may be time to swap out the hard drive for something newer. Just a general tip which has served well over the years. (Newer is also a big bigger and prospectively faster.) If swapping HDDs then Time Machine becomes moot, as that HDD can be dropped in an external enclosure for Migration Assistant to transfer applications, data settings, accounts, et al. After the migration is complete and a break-in period passes (30-90 days according to comfort level), that "old" HDD can be used as a Time Machine HDD (being old & approaching suspect, but not "bad" ).

    Caveats which come to mind—

    • Ought be the first thing done after wiping the machine and the reboot after the OS install finishes
    • New OS X versions have improved Time Machine (e.g., 10.7 or 10.8 multiple Time Machine backup points are possible such as one HDD at home & one HDD at the office)
    • Use a HDD enclosure with the best interface possible (FW800 or USB3), mainly as waiting stinks (many GBs will take a while).
    • If mixing OS X levels, some old programs may not work (well, yeah, no longer compatible & all that)
    • Encryption/Filevault will complicate things (either on TM or the boot HDD)

    See >> Simple!!
    Believe KatieM has Mac expertise, and has a few tips & tricks to note, of course.

  • @RoguePacket Not much to add on this, though good points about the OX version and hard drive. If the OS is over 2 years old, it is worthwhile to get the updated version if the hardware will support it.
    The Fruit Company is notorious for end-of-life'ing things after 3 years. (perfectly reasonable, to them)

  • I followed @RoguePacket 's links and we were able to reset the laptop and restore her settings and files using Time Machine. Thanks guys!

  • Community to the rescue!

  • @Dominica since the whole purpose of time machine is a valid backup in case your machine dies, that would seem to be its primary purpose 🙂 Also I second the migration assistant as being awesome. I've used that on multiple mac upgrades.

  • @Nic Not knowing ANYTHING about restoring Macs, I was hesitant to tell my cousin that the 3TB of videos she had made would be a-okay without asking someone first!!

  • True, never hurts to check!

  • Time Machine (TM) is an awesome feature. Goes with a common reason to have a Mac, "paying in advance not to have problems". Has moved from the "backup for people who don't do backups" (OS X 10.5) to much more (OS X 10.9).
    Get it muddled on which version intro-ed which feature. The Mavericks TM iteration can now—

    • Backup FileVault2 encrypted hard drives
    • Have the backup itself be encrypted
    • Have multiple TM mount points (say, one at the office and one at home)
    • Boot from a TM backup should the Mac's main hard drive fail

    Few annoyances—

    • TM kicks in every hour > can be adjusted with 3rd party tools or tweaking via Terminal
    • Should have it skip things like VMs, i.e. large files which change frequently but are better done another way
    • Setting multiple TM mount points is less clear than desired

    Big take-away, do have a second TM mount point, if possible. Not all that different than a business: live copy; on-site backup; and, off-site backup. Hard drives are cheap & all that (~$150 for TB external?).

  • Cool. Will definitely play with it when I finally get a new Mac myself.