Time machine not backing up properly

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Time machine is not properly archiving my work. It appears to be backing up, but when I go to view files from the past, they contain all the same data as my current files. I don't want that. I want to be able to see them as they were on the specified day so I can retrieve lost data if necessary. Anyone know why this is?
 
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Time machine is not properly archiving my work. It appears to be backing up, but when I go to view files from the past, they contain all the same data as my current files. I don't want that. I want to be able to see them as they were on the specified day so I can retrieve lost data if necessary. Anyone know why this is?

First, welcome to the forum! :)

Second, you've provided no information to base a response; please provide: 1) Mac model/year; 2) OS installed; 3) Back up hardware; and 4) Time Machine schedule (i.e. attached continuously or intermittently) - might help for starters. Dave
 

chscag

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Time machine is not properly archiving my work. It appears to be backing up, but when I go to view files from the past, they contain all the same data as my current files.

Tell us how you're viewing the backups. And which files are you viewing that you say all have the same data?
 
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Hi guys. thank you for the quick replies. I'm currently running a quadcore Mac Pro OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard; can't be sure about the year as it is a ScrumpyMacs computer and may in fact be made up of several different computers! (By the way not the latest issue black Mac Pro, the silver tower before that)

As for backup hardware I'm running it into a 3tb 'My Book' external. It's currently backing up every hour for past 24 hours and then daily for past month; I'm not sure if that's what you mean by 'schedule'? If not, please explain.

I'm viewing the backups by clicking the time machine toolbar icon. I'll skip back to around a month ago, restore the file, and yet the file is the same as it is today. The particular file in question for this example was an excel document.
 

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I'm viewing the backups by clicking the time machine toolbar icon. I'll skip back to around a month ago, restore the file, and yet the file is the same as it is today. The particular file in question for this example was an excel document.

I'm trying to understand "how" you're viewing the backups because I think you may not be seeing what you think you're seeing. ;)

When you open Time Machine, it should display a series of backup dates on the right side of the screen. Those backups (dates) will be in a pinkish color. If you select one of those dates it will move the Time Machine dialog (which looks like the Finder) of that date to the front. It's from this dialog that you use Finder to view the Excel file. Is that how you're doing it? (Do not restore the file.)
 
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That is how I'm viewing the files; although I wouldn't say the backup dates are pink, they're more like silver? Not sure if that matters ;p
 
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So yeah, I'll select the date I'm after, it'll bring that date to the front, I'll open the file in finder's preview and all I'll see is a replica of the file I edited several minutes ago.
 
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The funny thing is, I'm not sure it's always been like this. I haven't had to resort to using time machine in quite some time now but i think the last time I did was to restore a corrupted file about 8-9 months ago. Though my memory is hazy, I seem to remember it worked a treat- an earlier version of the damaged file was there and I restored it, no dramas. It's only in recent months I've gone to check out earlier versions of files- mostly out of curiosity- to find that they are exactly the same files I see on my desktop today. And no, I don't believe any of time machine's settings have been altered- at all- since i first installed it. :/ p.s. sorry for the multiple replies I kept thinking of things to say after i posted them
 

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That is how I'm viewing the files; although I wouldn't say the backup dates are pink, they're more like silver? Not sure if that matters ;p

The trick marks representing backup points could be either pink, gray, or a combination of both. The pink markers represent backups stored on your eternal hard drive/other storage device. The gray marks represent "local snapshots" stored on your Macs internal hard drive.

If the date that you are trying to restore from is one of those in pink try making sure that the external backup drive/network device is attached.
 

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The funny thing is, I'm not sure it's always been like this. I haven't had to resort to using time machine in quite some time now but i think the last time I did was to restore a corrupted file about 8-9 months ago. Though my memory is hazy, I seem to remember it worked a treat- an earlier version of the damaged file was there and I restored it, no dramas. It's only in recent months I've gone to check out earlier versions of files- mostly out of curiosity- to find that they are exactly the same files I see on my desktop today. And no, I don't believe any of time machine's settings have been altered- at all- since i first installed it. :/ p.s. sorry for the multiple replies I kept thinking of things to say after i posted them

That's OK about the multiple replies. I think what's happening is that your Time Machine for whatever reason is not making backups. I can open my Time Machine archive from almost a year ago and every date is in pink. And I can see files and folders that have changed over time. If you're in fact seeing the same Excel file, something's wrong. The only cure for Time Machine errors or corruption is to wipe the drive and start over. Of course that means losing all your past backups. But a bad backup is no good to you anyway.

Perhaps you ought to think about using something like Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper in addition to Time Machine.
 

chscag

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I've been using Time Machine since it was implemented in Leopard (before Snow Leopard) and it has always been that way. I believe "Slydude" gave you a pretty good overview of what the backups look like. But what it all boils down to is that if you're seeing the same Excel file that has not changed over time, then your backups are not working the way they're supposed to.

I should clarify the color though after opening Time Machine and seeing the changes that were made with Yosemite. The dates on the right side of the screen now appear in silver-gray but when you slide your cursor over a particular date, it turns to a pink-red like color. Hope that helps make it a bit more clear.
 

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Hmm, food for thought. Just a quickie : are you certain that time machine displays those pink tick marks in snow leopard (the system I have), and that's not just a trait of Lion systems or later? Time Machine - Frequently Asked Questions 15A. How do I use the (not so intuitive) Time Machine display?

You're correct. I didn't think to mention that. The "local snapshots" feature which caused the tick marks to be different colors wasn't introduced until 10.7.

@chacag Thanks for pointing out that change Yosemite. I had not noticed that. My MP Pro is rarely disconnected from my Time Machine file unless I am having network issues so I don't often generate local snapshots.
 
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Okay guys- everything seems to be back on track. I’ll recount the experience for anyone else reading who might be experiencing similar problems.

Really, I think this situation came about through an initial lack of understanding as to how time machine actually works on my part, and also possibly Snow Leopard’s slightly less-than-intuitive graphic interface for the software- although this has since been updated in later versions of the Apple Mac, and it’s much easier to differentiate backup from snapshot in later systems.

I think the main problem, as stupid as this sounds, has stemmed for me mistaking those tick marks representing snapshots as actual backup instances. I’ve been perusing old snapshots, without actually bothering to get to grips with the SCHEDULE I am currently using, and therefore not knowing which times correspond to actual backups. For any other noobs like me running Snow Leopard, the first thing you have to do is make sure you are aware of the hours time machine is going to actually backup your system as opposed to just take a snapshot. You can do this by viewing time machine’s running schedule in system preference (which will say every 4 hours or whatever) and checking when the last backup was. You’ll then be able to gauge when the next one will be, using… common sense.

But SECONDLY, I think some of the files I was initially trying to restore were actually ALIASES- not the source files themselves. Correct me if I’m wrong- but on reflection, you probably can’t retrieve an old file by restoring just an alias alone, as the alias won’t be pointing to the right file? Again, pretty stupid mistake.

But another thing I did which might be worth mentioning is making sure the hard drive was formatted correctly. As it turned out, I think it was anyway- but this is quite a big thing that I wasn’t even aware of before this happened, so I’m kinda glad I did actually stumble upon it. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, watch a tutorial or something- it’s important that your external hard drive is actually formatted appropriately, and which format you should choose will differ from system to system. So make sure you are aware of this.

I really appreciate the help guys, thanks very much. Peace of mind restored.
 
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p.s. Please correct me if any of that is misinformation !

And just to be clear, the experiment i used to test whether or not time machine was working was to make very slight alterations to some of my files, then stack them up against what i believed to be a backup. If time machine was working, I wouldn't have been able to see those changes in the earlier versions.

Lo and behold, the two files were different, and the older one was unchanged. I tested this on a word and an excel document.
 

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Thanks for the explanation. It makes sense regarding what was happening; snapshots versus the backups.

I personally do not keep my Time Machine drive attached to my iMac but only attach it when I actually make a backup. I do use CCC in addition to Time Machine though. I don't recommend my personal method to anyone unless they have the discipline to make backups. In other words, don't forget to backup. ;)
 

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