Time Machine equivalent to Windows System Restore?

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I've messed up my Mavericks mini & I need to nuke the hard drive & start over. I don't have an external drive to use with Time Machine. I know that I can use an external hard drive. According to the Wikipedia article on Time Machine, TM will do a full restore of the OS. My question is, can I set a restore point in TM before I make a change & then roll the OS back if I mess up? I can use a 3rd party application like Acronis True Image as well.
 
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Suggest first up getting that external hard drive, partition it into two partitions and format Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and MS DOS for the second. TM will back up to the Mac partition, and a utility such as CampTune will clone the Windows installation (hopefully). Never had any joy with Acronis True Image either.

After this then you can go into Recovery Mode, nuke the internal, and download a nice fresh copy of Mavericks.
 

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According to the Wikipedia article on Time Machine, TM will do a full restore of the OS. My question is, can I set a restore point in TM before I make a change & then roll the OS back if I mess up? I can use a 3rd party application like Acronis True Image as well.

With Time Machine you don't actually set a specific restore point. In essence Time Machine sets those for you.

Let's suppose you started using Time Machine a month ago. It has been backing up as expected the entire time. Now you decide you need to restore things to a point two days ago. Launch Time Machine and scroll back to the point where things were good and you can restore.
 
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Remember, Time Machine does NOT make a bootable backup.
If you need something like that use Carbon Copy Cloner.
 
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chas_m

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Personally I'd be more interested in what this user has been monkeying around with to the point that he destroyed his own system so badly that he thinks a complete nuke and restore is his only option. Perhaps learning more about that would save this guy a LOT of time and aggravation.
 
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Suggest first up getting that external hard drive, partition it into two partitions and format Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and MS DOS for the second. TM will back up to the Mac partition, and a utility such as CampTune will clone the Windows installation (hopefully). Never had any joy with Acronis True Image either.

After this then you can go into Recovery Mode, nuke the internal, and download a nice fresh copy of Mavericks.
I don't have Windows.

Let me explain. I had about an 8-year old hand-me-down Dell desktop with Windows XP that my dad gave me & a 5-year old laptop with Windows Vista on it. I wanted a new computer. I went to a Best Buy store & tried Windows 8 & hated it. I consider myself computer savvy. So, I bought a mini in June of 2013 & a MacBook Pro in September of 2013. Both of them came with Mountain Lion. I upgraded to Mavericks. I'm a Mac newbie. I'm still learning about OS X. It'll take a while because I "grew up" in the Windows world. I find OS X a little bit intimidating compared to Windows. Keychain confuses me. I had a problem with iCloud nagging me for a password. That has been resolved. I'm tired of frequently watching the spinning beach ball & I'm tired of force quitting applications. Yosemite is coming out soon & I don't want to install Yosemite over Mavericks. That's why I want to nuke the hard drive & install a fresh copy of Yosemite.

I haven't tried TrueImage. It is an alternative to Time Machine. I want to try Time Machine first.
 
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MacInWin

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OK, just use the external drive for TM. If you want to use it for other purposes as well, you can, but it may be better to partition it and point TM to one partition. The way TM works is that it backs up on a schedule (Default is every hour). The first backup is a FULL backup, everything is copied over. After that it does incremental backups of only those files that changed. When the drive gets full, it starts deleting the oldest backups to make room for the newer ones. A good rule of thumb for the size of the drive is for it to be twice the size of your internal HD, but if you have a BIG internal HD but it is mostly free space, I think twice the size of the space you've consumed can be the minimum. If once an hour is too frequent for you, there are third party products that can allow you to schedule TM on whatever schedule you want. TimeMachineEditor is one that I use and works well.
 
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OK, just use the external drive for TM. If you want to use it for other purposes as well, you can, but it may be better to partition it and point TM to one partition. The way TM works is that it backs up on a schedule (Default is every hour). The first backup is a FULL backup, everything is copied over. After that it does incremental backups of only those files that changed. When the drive gets full, it starts deleting the oldest backups to make room for the newer ones. A good rule of thumb for the size of the drive is for it to be twice the size of your internal HD, but if you have a BIG internal HD but it is mostly free space, I think twice the size of the space you've consumed can be the minimum. If once an hour is too frequent for you, there are third party products that can allow you to schedule TM on whatever schedule you want. TimeMachineEditor is one that I use and works well.
I've used about 60 GB of the 500 GB on my mini. Does the full backup occupy the same amount of space on the backup disk as on the internal disk? I doubt if the space on my mini will increase much above 60 GB.
So, let's see. 500 GB is 1/2 TB. A 4 GB external hard drive would be equivalent to 8 mini drives. The greater the capacity of the external drive, the farther back in time that I can go. Is it possible to determine approximately how far back in time I can go based on the size of the external drive & how frequently I use my mini?

When the drive gets full, it starts deleting the oldest backups to make room for the newer ones.
Does the "oldest backup" mean the first full backup?
My mini isn't on 24/7. Does TM backup when the computer is off?
TM initially does a full backup & then an hourly backup & another full backup every 24 hours, right? Since my mini isn't on 24/7, how does TM determine that 24 hours have elapsed? Does it use the system clock?
I have some more questions. TM does an incremental backup every hour. Does it back up Trash? If there's something in the Trash during an incremental backup & the Trash is emptied during the next hour, would the backup file size be a little smaller? Can I daisy chain external drives together to increase the total capacity of the drives? Does TM support JBOD(Just a Bunch of Disks)?
 
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MacInWin

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If you don't think you will grow much beyond the 60 GB range, then a drive of 250-500GB will do nicely. How many backups (how far back) will depend on how much volatility you might have on the 60 GB, but I suspect that you'll have plenty of "time" in the Time Machine.

Yes, the "oldest backup" does mean the first one. I'm not totally clear on what happens, but I have been told that when that oldest (FULL) backup is cleared from the drive, what happens is that the files in that backup that have been changed and therefore are in a newer backup, are deleted, but files that have NOT changed from that first backup are preserved. I suspect that in your case, with 60 GB used now, you won't see that first backup threatened for years. Also, at some point TM culls backups to one per week in the deeper history. On my current system, it shifted to weekly backups at the end of July this year.

TM does not backup when the machine is off, but it resumes when powered on.

No, TM does ONE full backup, then incrementals every hour (default). It never does another Full backup unless you force it. TM follows the system clock, it knows when the machine started and executes a backup one hour later.

TM does not backup trash. I don't think you can daisy chain drives for TM, but I do think it supports JBOD. I don't have JBOD myself and I don't know how to configure TM to do that.

Here are some statistics from my system for you. I have a 480GB internal drive, backed up to an external drive of 1TB. I have about 300 GB used on that internal drive. On the TM drive are 58 iterations of backups, consuming 625GB. I back up twice daily, noon and midnight, using a third party product TimeMachineEditor to set it to do that. I don't need hourly backups, so it meets all my needs to do twice a day. So if I do the math (assuming TM doesn't do any compression on the files), on my system I have one backup that takes up about 300GB, then 57 more backups that take up the other 325GB. That works out to about 6 GB per incremental backup. If that extrapolates to your system, your "normal" incremental should be about 1.5GB or so. On a 500 GB external drive you'd take up 60 GB for the first full backup, then you'd get another 290 incrementals on that same drive. Again, assuming it shifts to weekly after a couple of months have gone by, that one drive could hold 4-5 years of backup history. There are a ton of assumptions in all that, of course, but just wanted to show how, in general, TM works.
 
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OK. I have some more questions. As I previously stated(I think), I have a mini & a MacBook Pro. I bought the mini in June 2013 & the MBP in September 2013. Both originally came with Mountain Lion. Both have been upgraded to Mavericks. I don't know what I did, but both of them are nagging me for iCloud & Keychain passwords. That's why I want to nuke the hard drive on both & do a clean install of Yosemite. I'll do the mini first since I use that more than the MBP. I will wait until Yosemite is available in the App Store & then download it. I learned that if I use "Command" + "Q", the installation will be aborted. I'll wait until there's a Yosemite-compatible version of Diskmaker X. Can I use the bootable flash drive to install Yosemite on both the mini & the MBP? That way one would be a clone of the other. Can I delete restore points in Time Machine to free up space on the external hard drive?
 

chscag

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Can I use the bootable flash drive to install Yosemite on both the mini & the MBP? That way one would be a clone of the other. Can I delete restore points in Time Machine to free up space on the external hard drive?

Yes to the first question, but make sure you follow the on line directions on how to make a bootable flash drive of Yosemite.

As for the Time Machine backups it is possible to delete individual backup dates from the Time Machine backup sparse image. And by the way, they are not called "restore points". Forget about Windows and its terminology.
 

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