Computerworld: Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard’s ‘Time Machine’ is truly remarkable

“One of the most talked about features in Apple Computer Inc.’s upcoming operating system, Mac OS X 10.5, also known as Leopard, is the built-in backup tool called Time Machine,” Ryan Faas writes for Computerworld.

“Anyone who’s seen Apple’s demos or screenshots of Time Machine can tell that this is not a typical backup application. When you need to access a backup of any file, folder or item tucked away inside a Time-Machine-aware application, you simply select the appropriate window (such as a Finder window of the folder containing the items you need to recover) and then click the Time Machine icon in the dock,” Faas writes.

Faas writes, “The window you initially selected remains on display but with two arrows (backward and forward) next to it and with translucent images of the window disappearing into the background of the screen. Each translucent window indicates a previous-generation backup of the selected folder. Using the arrow keys, you can move back or forth through each backup. As the interface implies, you move backward or forward through the files on your computer based on time.”

“This approach is not only visually amazing — it does look like something out of a science fiction movie — but it is also incredibly intuitive and easy to navigate,” Faas writes. “What is truly remarkable… is that you don’t need to be concerned with where the files are stored. You don’t need to restore the actual files that Address Book uses to keep contacts information. And for many applications, a majority of users don’t know where to find the files anyway, so with traditional backup applications, they wouldn’t be able to restore them. That’s because until now, backup tools have worked only at the file level.

Faas writes, “There is a great deal of reason to be excited about Time Machine. It will truly offer users backup abilities that have so far been limited primarily to larger organizations — and it will do so at only the cost of storage space. More important, it will offer a uniquely easy-to-use backup solution, one that users will be able to access without needing to really think about complicated configurations that have until now been part of traditional backup applications. The fact that this powerful tool will be included free with Leopard puts it at the top of the list of changes coming to Mac OS X — at least among the features announced so far.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: See a QuickTime movie of Time Machine in action here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple Mac OS X Leopard’s ‘Time Machine’ vs. Microsoft’s ‘System Restore’ – August 07, 2006
Take a ride in Apple Mac OS X Leopard’s ‘Time Machine’ – August 07, 2006
Apple posts Steve Jobs’ WWDC 2006 keynote video – August 07, 2006
Apple previews Mac OS X Leopard featuring Time Machine, Spaces, enhanced Mail & iChat, and more – August 07, 2006


  1. The external drive thing really concerns me. I *really* hope it can be done in a way that’s as simple as connecting a time machine drive and letting it to its magic to back up or allow a restore.

    This gets tricky.

  2. Once Apple starts with the Santa Rosa chipsets (sometime in Spring-Summer ’07), eSATA ports will be supported and its up to apple whether or not to use them, so drive space shouldn’t be a problem.

    However, if the low-level stuff is like the GoBack system that been around for many years, you select how much space to give to the Time Machine. And if it is pretty much GoBack with a cool GUI, then I don’t think it can cross volumes.

  3. Hard Drive Space,

    I asked myself the same question a few weeks ago.

    It would be logical, I believe, for Apple to build, say, an iMac with two hard drives.

    Together with ‘Time Machine’ that would represent a small revolution in how we use our computers. Any number of new developements are then possible, which would have more to do with ease of use than real ‘security’

    That could, if needed, still be taken care of with an external HD.

    In short ‘Time Machine’ could redefine the meaning of ‘back up’.

  4. Anonymous Coward: “3. Actually, you MUST have a separate drive, not just a partition, and being that most iMacs only have 1 internal drive, the most common configuration for Time Machine will be with an external Firewire drive. You can also back up to a networked drive.”

    Where did you hear that you must have a separate drive?

  5. How is this new news exactly? Old – very, yes it’ll be lovely, and yes it’ll work best with an external disk. I bought a good quality Seagate (built for enterprise version 5 yr warranty) and housed it in a aluminium MicroNet exteral hard disk enclosure. As SpongeBob would say: “I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready…”

    Must be a slow news day. Why don’t you talk about the new Creative Xmod device, I’d like to know if it really improves compressed music to the extent they claim.

  6. I’m sure leopard will still include the ‘secure empty trash’ service which will obviously mean that those files will not be backed up by time machine. This will be very handy for when deleting very large files such as final cut pro movies, photos, downloaded movies, etc.

    Quick question, would time machine work ok over wireless? A nice setup for laptop users in the house would be to have an external hard drive plugged into the airport.

  7. Just looked up that the usb port on airport only works for printers and not hard drives… would be nice if apple updates that for leopard users to use a hard drive.

    Would be a shame to have to plug a laptop into an external drive – takes away from the whole portable / wireless experience.

  8. Have you ever wondered where and how yodeling began?

    Many years ago a man was traveling through the mountains of Switzerland.

    Nightfall was rapidly approaching and he had nowhere to sleep. He went up to a farmhouse and asked the farmer if he could spend the night!

    The farmer told him that he could sleep in the barn.

    As the story goes, the farmer’s daughter asked her father, “Who is that man going into the barn?”

    “That fellow traveling through,” said the farmer. “needs a place to stay for the night, so, I told him he could sleep in the barn.”

    The daughter said, “Perhaps he is hungry.” So she prepared him a plate of food for him and then took it out to the barn.

    About an hour later, the daughter returned. Her clothing disheveled and straw in her hair. Straight up to bed she went.

    The farmer’s wife was very observant. She then suggested that perhaps the man was thirsty. So she fetched a bottle of wine, took it out to the barn,! and she too did not return for an hour. Her clothing was askew, her blouse buttoned incorrectly. She also headed straight to bed.

    The next morning at sunrise the man in the barn got up and continued on his journey, waving to the farmer as he left.

    When the daughter awoke and learned that the visitor was gone, she broke into tears. “How could he leave without even saying goodbye,” she cried. “We made such passionate love last night!”

    “What?” shouted the father as he angrily ran out of the house looking for the man, who by now was halfway up the mountain.

    The farmer screamed up at him, “I’m going to get you! You had sex with my daughter!”

    The man looked back down from the mountainside, cupped his hand next to his mouth, and yelled out…..


  9. M di L B Simoni Thanks.

    I am still on a G4 TiPB on 40GB, I try to keep about 10GB free. I do have two external firewire drives for archive and backup purposes.

    I can’t imagine that Time Machine will have much compression, especially if it is as fast as the demo showed.

    I suppose a last and final question is how processor intensive the backup process will be? Spotlight operates happily in the background and I don’t notice the spare cycles it requires (other than the initial setup or indexing of a new drive). I suppose Time Machine will be some sort of hybred dual save feature, one to the main hard drive and file location, and the second to the Time Machine archive. I guess that shouldn’t be too noticeable.

    Thanks again.

  10. I’m also excited about this new backup paradigm, but I wait with bated breath to see what the reality of using it will be. Even so, if it is initially a little less than expected, its basic premise is important enough that I think users will want to see it succeed and become a mature feature of the new OS, which should in turn drive Apple to stick with it.

  11. Look for an Apple branded home NAS (network attached storage) that plugs into your network and can be used as central storage for all your Macs Time Machine backups. It’ll have RAID 5 for redundancy with 3 hard drives (because losing a years worth of backups due to a drive failure would suck), and you’ll be able to swap out a bad drive on the fly and the unit will just keep working, automatically rebuilding the data on the new drive you swap in.

    I built my own NAS using FreeNAS and an old Compaq computer I had lying around which I plan to upgrade to 3 x 300GB drives for 600GB of storage with RAID 5 (1 drive of storage is used for parity redundancy). This will be more than enough to act as a “Time Machine” storage drive for my 3 Macs at home. Then I can finally be rid of the outdated (still not UB) EMC Retrospect backup software which is a pain to use and has been failing way too often lately for my taste.

  12. According to what I have read, it automatically backs up ONCE a day and not each time you touch a file. The backup occurs at midnight or at another time you specify.

    This lead me to believe that people may be able to backup to a .Mac account. Perhaps this is why Apple bought that new data center.

    I suspect it will only add/copy files which have been changed since the last backup to save disk space and have a DB which will keep trak of what file is in what folder on a certain day.

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