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  1. #1

    MiddleFingerMan's Avatar
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    Question Back Up: Time Machine vs. User folder on separate hard drive?
    Hello Everyone!

    I'm a Switcher only a few weeks in with his new iMac and I'm wondering about Time Machine. It seems like a beautiful invention but I'm not too sure if I want to use it or not.

    With my Windows systems, I would have my external hard drive set up and simply relocate my My Documents folder to that hard drive so that if anything ever happened, I would have all my files on my back up drive and no worries.

    Now that I've got an iMac, I've been doing some reading on Time Machine and wonder if I should be using that instead. I've got my external drive running via USB. It's got 297.96 GB after formatting. Is this sufficient for Time Machine?

    Should I use my internal hard drive (320 GB) and have Time Machine just in case my system blows up or should I relocate my User folder to the external drive?

    I guess that my biggest concern is, will my 297.96 GB drive be sufficient for Time Machine.

    Opinions will be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2


    Member Since
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    Should you use Time Machine? Absolutely. Although copying the files to an external hard drive manually can get the job done, this method doesn't keep to a schedule the way Time Machine does. After you do the initial backup, Time Machine will automatically back up any new files or changes you make to your computer every hour. Best of all, you don't have to do anything. It's all automatic. You don't have to remember which files you saved and which new ones you need to put on the external drive. It keeps track of all that for you.

    If you want to use Time Machine, it would be best to use a drive that is as big if not slightly bigger than the drive in your computer. I have a MacBook with a 320 GB internal drive, and the hard drive I use for my Time Machine is 500 GB. That way, I can store all of the contents of my hard disc plus some extra files that I may delete along the way, just in case I ever have to pull up something I accidentally deleted.

    It sounds like your external drive and your internal drive are both about the same size (after formatting). I would go ahead and use it. You'll be glad you did.

  3. #3

    James's Avatar
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    Use your external drive for backup, it only makes sense. If your main drive goes out so does your backup. The drive you have will be plenty big enough to work with Time Machine as as the drive fills up it drops off the early backups.

    Unless you just need hourly backups it is a waste. Just turn off Time Machine until you want a backup and then turn it on and let it run when you do.
    Mac Pro Intel 2.66 - Quad Core - 16 Gigs Ram - 10.11.2 - 30" Apple Monitor
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  4. #4

    Santino's Avatar
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    Let me steal a post on you thread

    Time machine, backups files? I mean, you can surf from your files in your back up as if it where a copy of your HD? Or it create images or dont-know-what, that you can't acces from lets say another mac (without TM), or even a pc (supposing pcs could read the format of macs).
    Intel iMac 24" 2.8Ghz / 4gb
    PowerBook G4 12" 1.33Ghz / 1.25gb
    2Gb Black iPod Nano 1G
    Canon 30D, recently inherited!

  5. #5

    MiddleFingerMan's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input everyone! I appreciate your thoughts!

    I was thinking about this as I was getting ready for bed and realized that using Time Machine was probably better as I will then have mirror image of my (most recent) hard drive set up. That way if all goes to heck, it's not a big deal to get right back where I was.

    Time Machine it is!

    Thanks for your opinions everyone!

  6. #6


    Member Since
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    Quote Originally Posted by Santino View Post
    Time machine, backups files? I mean, you can surf from your files in your back up as if it where a copy of your HD? Or it create images or dont-know-what, that you can't acces from lets say another mac (without TM), or even a pc (supposing pcs could read the format of macs).
    It saves the files to the drive. For a better idea of how Time Machine works and how you navigate through it, I highly recommend you check out this video. Skip to about 1:38 in for the Time Machine demo.

  7. #7

    MiddleFingerMan's Avatar
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    Nice! I almost didn't watch that video as I thought it was one I had seen on the Apple Website (when I was just dreaming about getting an iMac still). But it wasn't! Time Machine is pretty slick and I'm going to get it going tonight.

  8. #8

    theonegod's Avatar
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    Putting your user folder or your My Documents on an external drive is NOT a backup as it is still residing in only one place. There is no reason to expect that your external drive is any less likely to fail then your internal drive. A backup has data in more then one location. Time machine is great for this.

    personally I use 2 different backup meathods. I have 2 external firewire drives. 1 is setup as a time machine drive for me and serves the purpose of allowing me to restore a file or program to a specific time and day. The other firewire drive is a drive I use for Superduper! backups. This program makes an exact copy of your internal hard drive to your external and even makes it bootable. This meathod is much better for a full system restore then a time machin drive is due to the speed of recovery.

  9. #9

    MiddleFingerMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theonegod View Post
    Putting your user folder or your My Documents on an external drive is NOT a backup as it is still residing in only one place. There is no reason to expect that your external drive is any less likely to fail then your internal drive. A backup has data in more then one location. Time machine is great for this.
    That's exactly what I thought as well hence I have Time Machine set up and running right now. I've got a second external drive (not being used right now) but it's only an 80GB unit so no good for Superduper (which looks like a nice little app).

    One day I'd like to have the 1TB Time Capsule!

  10. #10

    KeithTeeple's Avatar
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    The good thing about Time Machine is that it makes an exact copy of your hard drive. You can set it every day, week etc.

    That way, if something is lost, you can go back to any date on your computer and recover that file.

    Press any key to continue, or any other key to cancel.

    There are 10 kinds of people in the world: Those who understand binary
    and those who don't.

  11. #11


    Member Since
    Jan 24, 2008
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    i would recommend time machine also just for ease of finding those lost files. it stores them where u had them originally you can check there all the right versions quickly its just easy. and it reminds the forgetful people (me) to back up! (i don't have it plugged in all the time!)

  12. #12

    MiddleFingerMan's Avatar
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    I've had Time Machine armed and dangerous for a few days now. It has not saved my bacon yet, but I'm sure it will someday soon!

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