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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

Time machine for dummies question...


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mufngruf

 
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Firstly, I don't yet have a problem.. and secondly, I don't want a problem - hence the question.
I have researched as much of this as I can but only get more confused. I think it probably falls into the category of "too basic to explain" and so there is no specific answer.
I have two macs (iMac and mini) both running Snow.
The "main" machine is downstairs, the mini is upstairs.
I have a large external drive set up as a time machine for the main computer.
When I installed the OS on the mini, I then restored from my most recent backup of the main machine...
so far so good..
all the apps and stuff copied over just fine. All my keychain and internet settings were preserved - all went well.
I put the machine upstairs, and continued to work and play on the downstairs iMac.
Now, a few days later, the iMac is obviously "different" from the mini.
If I now back up the iMac on TM and carry the external drive upstairs and plug the mini into it...
1. Can I simply go to the "restore from Time machine"option by booting from my system disk and then do a restore from the latest TM backup file?
2. Is there an easier way to do it?
3. Will it have to recopy the entire thing or just the "new material"?
4. What will happen to stuff that I have erased from the iMac but is still on the mini?
5. I often read that TM doesn't, in fact, back up everything. Is this true and if so, what DOESN'T it backup that I might need on the mini?

any advice would be appreciated.
thanks
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mrplow

 
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Each Time Machine backup is designed to be a backup for a particular Mac.

You appear to be using it as a way to keep your two Macs in sync with one another. Is that the case?

If it's a sync issue Backup solutions like Time Machine are not really the way to go.


What is it you want to keep in sync?

If it's documents, movies etc then you should consider a dedicated sync solution.

Consider:
Dropbox
SyncTwoFolders
Using the public folders on you Mac
There are various apps to sync bookmarks etc.

External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

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mufngruf

 
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basically, I want to keep the two macs as identical as possible- so that one user folder is the same as the other..... including prefs and apps and data
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mrplow

 
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One of the syncing solutions I've suggested will take care of your data. For documents and files Dropbox is excellent. It syncs over LAN and will make sure that the latest file is available to both machines regardless of where it's updated.

Syncing apps is a hit and miss affair.

Firstly there may be licensing issues to consider. But also the time it takes. It'd be quicker just to install an application on both machines to be honest.

It all depends how desperate you are to have them in sync and how often you need that to happen.

External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - top right of this post
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mufngruf

 
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I already have the apps on both machines... I'm more concerned with keeping prefs and user files up to date which would include all the calender/address/mail stuff...

it would appear that there isn't an easier way to do it so..
what are the answers to the other four questions about using TM to keep them both current?
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Again there are many solutions to keep email/calendat/address books in sync.

Personally I favour using google sync but it depends on your provider.

Setting up email to use IMAP will keep that in sync.

Keeping prefs in sync.... to my knowledge can only be done in two ways:
1. knowing where the preference files are keep and copying them from one place to another
2. doing a full backup and restore

Do your preferences change that much and that often?

To try and answer your questions:

Quote:
1. Can I simply go to the "restore from Time machine"option by booting from my system disk and then do a restore from the latest TM backup file?
Yes. This will replace anything in the target machine so you need to ensure that the latest files are in the backup or you'll lose data.

Quote:
2. Is there an easier way to do it?
Any one of the file sync apps mentioned are preferable. They are also automated so no user intervention is required.

Quote:
3. Will it have to recopy the entire thing or just the "new material"?
You can either do everything or manualy select what gets restored.

Quote:
4. What will happen to stuff that I have erased from the iMac but is still on the mini?
Doing a full restore will make the target match the source. Doing a selective restore will only over-write the files you've selected.

Quote:
5. I often read that TM doesn't, in fact, back up everything. Is this true and if so, what DOESN'T it backup that I might need on the mini?
Be default TM will backup everything need to restore a Mac back to fully working with all docs/apps/preferences intact. The only stuff that's left behind are temp files like the sleep file etc. That's unless you have excluded certain files/folders/drives in the Time Machine preferences.


Without sounding like a broken record (oops too late) there are so many ways to sync mail/calendar/address data across machines and devices that, once setup, will just take care of themselves. That IMHO is far, far easier and less time consuming than manually twisting a machine backup system to do the job.

External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

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mufngruf

 
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I thank you again for your time.. and yes I know that there are applications which will back up individual files/folders etc... and I realise that I could set them up to do so..
but what I am TRYING TO DO, is a one-stop solution.
Perhaps it would make it easier if I added that I will not be doing anything different on the mini upstairs band so will NOT need to sync back to the imac.. I just need to be able to go upstairs and, very simply, have the same computer that i just left downstairs. I leave my email online so it can be checked from both machines without loss... but when I DO run Apple Mail, and it downloads my online mail, I want to be sure that it is also stored on the mini, when next I "backup" from the TM.
For example, I don't need to copy all of my applications every time but if I have added a couple of new applications since my last backup - I COULD have a sync program that would sync the applications folder, but that won't catch the prefs. plists and such...
That's why I was thinking that a TM backup would "update" everything at once.
Is there a way to do a "restore from backup" that would BY ITSELF simply update the other drive/user or, perhaps better yet, is there a synce app that will sync an entire user folder and - if so - what will that NOT sync that I may need?

I'm really not trying to be awkward or to sound like my own broken record. If there just isn't a way to do it, then so be it... but that's what I meant when I said that I couldn't find a simple solution.. just the incremental syncing of individual folders and files.
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mrplow

 
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So long as your email provider supports IMAP then your email will work no matter how you access it.

Quote:
I just need to be able to go upstairs and, very simply, have the same computer that i just left downstairs.
Time Machine isn't going to do that for you... what with the time required to do the restore etc.

Quote:
I COULD have a sync program that would sync the applications folder, but that won't catch the prefs. plists and such...
Why wouldn't it?

I guess I'm missing something here but if you use something like FileSync You configure it to sync matching folders on each Mac and have it run at regular intervals or at certain times or manually kick it off.... however you choose really.

This will sync everything you need to the Mac Mini.

External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

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mufngruf

 
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Surely, the prefs and plists and such are not kept in the applications folder but rather in the user root application support area?
Can File sync be configured to sync the user folder?
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mrplow

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mufngruf View Post
Surely, the prefs and plists and such are not kept in the applications folder but rather in the user root application support area?
Can File sync be configured to sync the user folder?
You can sync any folder to any folder.

In fact this piece of software iSynchronize | Smart Apps seems to be exactly what your after. But file sync would do the job too

External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

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mufngruf

 
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apparently it cannot...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mufngruf View Post
apparently it cannot...
?

I guess I'm really missing something. I just don't get why you can't just sync the folders you need. Even if you can't sync at the user folder level (which is kind of a sledgehammer to crack a walnut).

If it needs to be absolutely identical and immediate.....
Why not just keep everything on the iMac machine and use screen sharing to control it from the Mac Mini? No syncing/no transferring backup required.

Just go upstairs, connect using screen sharing and everything will be identical because you'll be using the same Mac.

External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

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mufngruf

 
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gee I had no idea this would be so complex..
I have a large imac.. it takes up my entire desk.. I would like to be able to replace it with a mac mini IF it will work as well (it has less ram and a slower intel chip). I don't do a lot of memory intensive work or particularly need to have the 2.66 processor speed that the iMac gives me...
So - I want to gradually work on the mini until I am sure that I can use it for my average daily stuff... BEFORE i get rid of the imac.
Since the imac is my main squeeze at the moment, and will remain so until I cast it adrift, my theory was that I could test out the mini without getting rid of the imac until i was sure.
hence the need to have them be the 'same" and the unwillingness to simply do it piecemeal - a folder at a time.
hope this helps make sense of the issue.
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Then why not just take a full TM backup of the iMac, restore it onto the Mini then just use the Mini all the time? Only falling back to the iMac if the Mini doesn't perform. . . which will answer your question about whether it's up to the job.

If you have to use both the 'piecemeal' approach is still the best way on a day-to-day basis, only resorting to the full TM backup/restore once you get rid of one of the machines

External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

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Not to butt in to an already overly discussed topic, but why not invest in a Time Capsule, and do exactly what you're doing already, except now you'll eliminate the step of moving your external drive between places, using the TC as a NAS. I can't really tell by the discussion if you are trying to avoid the whole process of backing up, or avoiding the process of disconnecting and reconnecting drives over and over. Either way it is some kind of solution, maybe not for you.

Now you have my 2 cents.
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