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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Applications > Time Machine vs. Carbon Copy Cloner for my purposes?

Time Machine vs. Carbon Copy Cloner for my purposes?
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chrikenn
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Jan 11, 2010, 08:54 PM
 
I have a 1TB Time Capsule for backup purposes and am seeking advice as the best way to achieve my goals. Here is what I would like to do:

-Backup my "Music" and "Documents" folder on a daily basis. I do not need to back anything else up -- if my hard drive crashes, I can simply get a new one and reinstall OSX.

-I do NOT need the ability to access those folders on certain dates in the past, as Time Machine would allow me to do. The only thing I need to be able to do is have a backup of the Music and Documents folder. For instance, if I delete Document X from the Documents folder on my local hard drive, I also want it to be deleted from my backup drive.

I have reviewed Time Machine, and it seems inevitable that this will make daily backups (or however often I have it backup), cumulatively storing every single day. Thus, it does not seem to be the best option for what I would like.

Does anybody know if CCC can do what I want? If not, can anybody recommend the best way to have a simple automated backup of my Documents and Music folder so that, if my hard drive dies, I have access to them as they were for the last backup before the hard drive died?

Many thanks.
     
turtle777
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Jan 11, 2010, 09:52 PM
 
Just stick with TM. It will automatically discard old backups and versions once it gets full.

You don't even want to start making manual backups with CCC, it's just too much of a hassle.

Btw, I would recommend to backup your OS as well. Making a complete re-install might take a while, then setting up all your apps, mail etc. TM just takes care of it all.

-t
     
ibook_steve
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Jan 11, 2010, 10:11 PM
 
I think the OP is confused about how TM backs up. TM performs "incremental" backups, meaning that TM makes a new backup copy of something only if that something changes. So extra space on the backup drive is only used in that instance. TM does not repeatedly backup multiple copies of things that have not changed. And, as mentioned, even if the drive fills up, the oldest versions of backed up items are automatically removed.

Just stick with TM. It's the easiest, fastest way to make a backup I've ever used. If you really want to, you can set it to not backup anything except your documents and music.

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cgc
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Jan 11, 2010, 10:22 PM
 
Isn't one of the prime differences the fact that TM requires a second drive to be on whenever the Mac is on while with CCC you can turn on the drive when needed (e.g. an external FW drive). I prefer CCC or SuperDuper over Tm by far...100% bootable clone run only when I want...and all other important files backup up via DropBox.
     
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Jan 11, 2010, 10:25 PM
 
TimeMachine doesn't require the backup drive to be on all the time. All it does is complain once every (I think) 10 days that no backup was done for a long time.
     
EndlessMac
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Jan 11, 2010, 10:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by chrikenn View Post
If not, can anybody recommend the best way to have a simple automated backup of my Documents and Music folder so that, if my hard drive dies, I have access to them as they were for the last backup before the hard drive died?
For a simple daily automated backup that does what you are basically asking then just use Time Machine. If your hard drive dies then just restore from the most recent backup and you don't have to be concerned about the other backup days in Time Machine.

FYI when you delete something then it is deleted for the most recent TM backup once it syncs up so it really is doing what you want. It won't restore those deleted files unless you choose to restore from anything but the most recent TM backup. Think of each TM backup dates as a snapshot of what your hard drive currently has at that date.

Originally Posted by cgc View Post
Isn't one of the prime differences the fact that TM requires a second drive to be on whenever the Mac is on...
You don't need TM to be on all the time. You can just plug it in once a day and right-click the TM icon in the dock and select Back Up Now. After it's done just eject your hard drive and do the same thing everyday at night before going to bed like while you are brushing your teeth and getting ready for bed for example.

My data doesn't change much hourly so I don't really need to have TM plugged in all the time. IMO hourly backups are more important for people in a business or who are constantly making important data changes on their computer. Since you can make TM backup anytime you want then you can also do it right before any major changes and after or basically when there is a change in important data.
     
chrikenn  (op)
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Jan 11, 2010, 11:09 PM
 
Well that's precisely why I am considering options other than Time Machine: I do not want daily backups made until my entire 1TB time capsule is full. I understand incremental backup, and I guess Time Machine _could_ do what I want it to do, but if I set Time Machine to back up to my Time Capsule, does that negate my ability to use the Time Capsule disk as just a drag and drop temporary backup disk? In other words, does Time Machine take over the disk and prevent me from using it for other purposes?

I downloaded CCC and can't even figure out how to get it to connect to the Time Capsule's hard drive. The TC disk doesn't even sow up in "Target Disk." Any ideas how to get it in there?

By the way, thanks for all the thoughtful replies.
     
turtle777
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Jan 11, 2010, 11:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by chrikenn View Post
Well that's precisely why I am considering options other than Time Machine: I do not want daily backups made until my entire 1TB time capsule is full. I understand incremental backup, and I guess Time Machine _could_ do what I want it to do, but if I set Time Machine to back up to my Time Capsule, does that negate my ability to use the Time Capsule disk as just a drag and drop temporary backup disk? In other words, does Time Machine take over the disk and prevent me from using it for other purposes?
You can still use the TM volume for manual backups via the Finder.

However, once it's full, and it starts deleting the oldest backups, you will not have any room or manual backups.

If you want to retain certain space for manual backups, you can create two partitions on that drive. One for TM, one for manual backups.

If you want TM only to run in certain intervals, take a look at TimeMachineScheduler - set the backup interval of Time Machine
You can also set it manually, an define intervals like days and weeks:
http://www.macosxhints.com/article.p...00710291721156

Edit: Even better
http://timesoftware.free.fr/timemachineeditor/

-t
     
EndlessMac
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Jan 11, 2010, 11:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by chrikenn View Post
In other words, does Time Machine take over the disk and prevent me from using it for other purposes?
As turtle has mentioned you need to partition the hard drive into 2. Use one partition for TM and the other for CCC if you want or anything else.
     
chrikenn  (op)
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Jan 11, 2010, 11:33 PM
 
Yeah, see, I don't really want to partition the TM. I know it wouldn't be the end of the world to do it, but CCC would not require me to do it, and could theoretically do what I want it to do if only I could get the network mounted TC drive to show up in the "target disk" section of CCC.

Any thoughts on this?
     
turtle777
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Jan 11, 2010, 11:42 PM
 
Final thought: If you want reliable backups, use TM.

This whole manual backups thing will sooner or later backfire. You'll make a stupid mistake, you don't back up at the right time etc...

-t
     
mduell
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Jan 12, 2010, 12:17 AM
 
Time Machine, Time Machine, Time Machine

Time Machine doesn't take over anything. It's just a way of managing one folder of files on the disk. Do some occasional pruning or partition the TC if you want to limit how much space it uses.
( Last edited by mduell; Jan 13, 2010 at 01:05 AM. )
     
turtle777
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Jan 12, 2010, 12:19 AM
 
I really don't understand why people cling to the manually managed backups paradigm.

Control issues ?

-t
     
Hal Itosis
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Jan 12, 2010, 12:27 AM
 
Originally Posted by chrikenn View Post
Yeah, see, I don't really want to partition the TM. I know it wouldn't be the end of the world to do it, but CCC would not require me to do it, and could theoretically do what I want it to do if only I could get the network mounted TC drive to show up in the "target disk" section of CCC.

Any thoughts on this?
Limit the max size of TM's backup by creating your own sparsebundle with Disk Utility (or hdiutil).

There are a ton of blogs, articles and forum posts out there like these two:

How to limit the size of Time Machine backups to Time Capsule

10.5: Limit size of Time Machine backups on Time Capsule
-HI-
     
chrikenn  (op)
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Jan 12, 2010, 12:45 AM
 
Thanks again for all the comments.

And CCC is not a manual backup option. You can set it to do daily backups of individual folders, such that it merely copies the folder from your main drive to your backup drive. Thus, once it is set up, it does not require any more manual input than does Time Machine.

As discussed above, the reason I would prefer this is because I don't need the "time machine" features of Time Machine... i.e., I do not need to be able to look back to a snapshot of my drive on a particular day. All I need is a plain vanilla backup, without all the bells and whistles of TM.

Sometimes, simpler is preferable. At any rate, thanks again for the comments.
     
CharlesS
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Jan 12, 2010, 02:08 AM
 
You notice how just about everyone in this thread is recommending Time Machine? There's a reason for that. It's your best option. Use it.

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B Gallagher
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Jan 12, 2010, 04:58 AM
 
I use both, and the only reason that I am using CCC is that it allows me to make a bootable clone.

chrikenn - if ever you change a file, back up, realise that you need the original back only to find it's been overwritten, both on your HDD and your backup drive, you'll understand the benefit of incremental backups with TM provides.
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OreoCookie
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Jan 12, 2010, 05:00 AM
 
Cloning is a very, very bad backup strategy.
If your drive, file system or an installation goes bad, then -- after syncing -- your `backup' has also gone bad. Cloning is only reasonable if you clone data that doesn't change appreciably over time and in addition to some other means of backup.

Time Machine is simpler or at most as simple as any other backup solution out there. You can do backups manually (if you prefer) or OS X can do them automatically for you.
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besson3c
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Jan 12, 2010, 05:22 AM
 
Not to mention, cloning requires far more computation and time to complete. Why tie up your computer waiting for unnecessary jobs to complete?
     
cgc
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Jan 12, 2010, 11:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Cloning is a very, very bad backup strategy.
If your drive, file system or an installation goes bad, then -- after syncing -- your `backup' has also gone bad. Cloning is only reasonable if you clone data that doesn't change appreciably over time and in addition to some other means of backup.

Time Machine is simpler or at most as simple as any other backup solution out there. You can do backups manually (if you prefer) or OS X can do them automatically for you.
Which makes the method I mentioned previously (e.g. CCC or SuperDuper in conjunction with DropBox or Mozy) an option. I've been doing manual backups for years with no problems. I tend to only do the backup when significant changes have been made.

Why the love affair with Time Machine? I know it's convenient, but what makes it so much better than anything else out there? Is it all about the incremental backup? BTW, CCC can do incremental backups.

While clones are a bad option for a business, I don't think it's so bad for the typical user. Like most people, I just want my media and a couple documents backed up, I don't need to be able to recover various iterations of the same thing. Works fine for me, should work for others, and I've used the clone to restore from without issue. Plus I can use my clone to troubleshoot issues (a guest account is helpful too).
     
turtle777
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Jan 12, 2010, 11:24 AM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
Why the love affair with Time Machine? I know it's convenient, but what makes it so much better than anything else out there? Is it all about the incremental backup?
I don't understand the love affair with CCC.

There are no obvious disadvantages of TM. Why keep tinkering with manual backups?

As I said, to me, it's a control issue. People don't wanna let go of their old and tried ways, and want to be "in control" of what they backup.

-t
     
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Jan 12, 2010, 11:36 AM
 
Originally Posted by chrikenn View Post
Thanks again for all the comments.

And CCC is not a manual backup option. You can set it to do daily backups of individual folders, such that it merely copies the folder from your main drive to your backup drive. Thus, once it is set up, it does not require any more manual input than does Time Machine.

As discussed above, the reason I would prefer this is because I don't need the "time machine" features of Time Machine... i.e., I do not need to be able to look back to a snapshot of my drive on a particular day. All I need is a plain vanilla backup, without all the bells and whistles of TM.

Sometimes, simpler is preferable. At any rate, thanks again for the comments.
Time Machine is the simplest approach. You seem to be consumed with worry over the fact that TM is going to be making copy after copy of all of the modified files in your Documents and Music folders. But how often does that data really change?

Just limit TM to those two folders and be done with it. No muss no fuss.

Hard drives are cheap... if you really need a "scratch disk" just buy a USB drive.
     
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Jan 12, 2010, 01:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
Why the love affair with Time Machine? I know it's convenient, but what makes it so much better than anything else out there?
Yes! It's the first backup I got my parents to use. Let's see:
(1) It's free and it just works.
(2) It is easy to use.
(3) You can browse your backups sorted by time in the Finder -- if you wish.
(4) It provides smart granularity so that -- if your backup drive is usually connected to your Mac -- you at most lose one hour of work, if you accidentally delete a file. On the other hand, superfluous backups are automatically deleted.

If you want to have a clone of your harddrive, just use Disk Utility.
Of course, you can do that from the command line as well. CCC is just a front-end to rsync. If you are comfortable with the command line, rdiff-backup does the same thing and more. It is not free.
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
Is it all about the incremental backup? BTW, CCC can do incremental backups.
That's only one important reason.
Incremental backups Time Machine-style are much easier to search. (I'm using Synk in addition to Time Machine and DropBox and it also uses an annoying Archive folder.)
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
While clones are a bad option for a business, I don't think it's so bad for the typical user.
It is particularly bad for the average user, because they think they have a backup when in most cases, they have none.
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
Plus I can use my clone to troubleshoot issues (a guest account is helpful too).
This is part of the problem: never, ever work off a backup. A backup should only be used when restoring something.
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chrikenn  (op)
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Jan 12, 2010, 03:49 PM
 
Ok ok, you people have convinced me to give TM a go.

I have one other question though regarding the organization of TM backups. Say, for instance, that I simply set TM to back up only my Documents and my Music folders. It backs it up on January 5, 2010. No changes occur to either folder on January 6, 2010, so presumably nothing new is added to the TM backup on my Time Capsule. On January 7, I download some new MP3s from iTunes. Where does TM put these on the Time Capsule? Would it have one backup folder from January 5 that had all of my MP3s from that day, and then a new backup folder on January 7 that has the new MP3s? Or does it keep only one backup folder, and then some sort of a separate data file that instructions the program which files were present on the system on specific dates?

In other words, is there some sort of a daily directory tree that has each day's individual backups, or is there one backup directory, combined with a data file that tells the computer which files were present on which days?

Hope that makes sense. If not, I'll just set it up tonight when I get home from work and see for myself.
     
Hal Itosis
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Jan 12, 2010, 04:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by chrikenn View Post
I have one other question though regarding the organization of TM backups. Say, for instance, that I simply set TM to back up only my Documents and my Music folders. It backs it up on January 5, 2010. No changes occur to either folder on January 6, 2010, so presumably nothing new is added to the TM backup on my Time Capsule. On January 7, I download some new MP3s from iTunes. Where does TM put these on the Time Capsule? Would it have one backup folder from January 5 that had all of my MP3s from that day, and then a new backup folder on January 7 that has the new MP3s? Or does it keep only one backup folder, and then some sort of a separate data file that instructions the program which files were present on the system on specific dates?

In other words, is there some sort of a daily directory tree that has each day's individual backups, or is there one backup directory, combined with a data file that tells the computer which files were present on which days?
Sounds like you need to learn & understand how hard links work their magic.
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CharlesS
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Jan 12, 2010, 04:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by chrikenn View Post
Ok ok, you people have convinced me to give TM a go.

I have one other question though regarding the organization of TM backups. Say, for instance, that I simply set TM to back up only my Documents and my Music folders. It backs it up on January 5, 2010. No changes occur to either folder on January 6, 2010, so presumably nothing new is added to the TM backup on my Time Capsule. On January 7, I download some new MP3s from iTunes. Where does TM put these on the Time Capsule? Would it have one backup folder from January 5 that had all of my MP3s from that day, and then a new backup folder on January 7 that has the new MP3s? Or does it keep only one backup folder, and then some sort of a separate data file that instructions the program which files were present on the system on specific dates?

In other words, is there some sort of a daily directory tree that has each day's individual backups, or is there one backup directory, combined with a data file that tells the computer which files were present on which days?

Hope that makes sense. If not, I'll just set it up tonight when I get home from work and see for myself.
You'll have a new folder for the January 7 backup, which will contain the new MP3 files. The January 5 backup will remain unchanged. However, the January 7 backup will only be the size of the files that have changed, since all the files that haven't changed will just be hard linked to the files in the January 5 backup instead of copied all over again. There's no special data file, and if you need to recover something and can't/don't want to go through the normal Time Machine interface for whatever reason, you can always just copy whatever files you want straight from the backup using the Finder.

It's about as easy to use as you can get for a backup program.

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chrikenn  (op)
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Jan 12, 2010, 05:15 PM
 
Cool, thanks for the help everybody. Will set up TM tonight.
     
cgc
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Jan 12, 2010, 10:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
It is particularly bad for the average user, because they think they have a backup when in most cases, they have none.

This is part of the problem: never, ever work off a backup. A backup should only be used when restoring something.
My data is on two drives, one internal and one external. I can see a time when the system destroys data but I have the stuff I care about backed up to a third HDD stuck elsewhere. I essentially clone to save the work of reinstalling and to provide some protection to my media. I'd say my method works for my but I'm curious about TM and it's advantages.

How many people need incremental restores? If I need to restore a file I copy it from the clone or from my DropBox. Never had a need for a restore from 2 weeks ago, only the most recent. Have you ever done a restore from a specific time?

I'm not saying TM isn't good, I'm just trying to understand why everyone loves TM as much as they do. I'll probably break down and try TM once I finish my household move. Please don't misconstrue my comments as attacks or sarcastic, my current BU plan works but I'm willing to look for a better method. Since so many of you old-timers (e.g. god-like MacNN users) recommend TM, I'd be a fool to not look at it as well.

Interesting discussion, I need to learn more...
     
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Jan 12, 2010, 11:12 PM
 
An incremental backup is useful if a file gets muffed up, or you change your mind about throwing something out well after emptying the Trash. Say you deleted the wrong record from a database file, or accidentally cleaned out the original of a picture, along with intermediate edits.

In each of these cases, you can browse back to before the mistake was made, even if you realize the mistake months later. Incremental insures you against mistakes that are not recognized quickly.

Note that not all intermediate states will be preserved. Time Machine thins out the snapshots over time. Hourly is only kept for 24 hours, afterwards it wipes most of the snapshots to leave one for each day. After a month, it thins the daily snapshots, keeping only one from each week. You end up with a maximum of 53 snapshots covering the past 30 days + weekly snapshots going back as far as HD space allows.
     
mduell
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Jan 13, 2010, 01:33 AM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
Why the love affair with Time Machine? I know it's convenient, but what makes it so much better than anything else out there? Is it all about the incremental backup? BTW, CCC can do incremental backups.
In rough order of importance:
1) Notifies and nags when it experiences a failure.
2) Easy to set up.
3) Default inclusive (with a few sane exclusions).
4) Maintains multiple old versions.
5) Reasonable automatic thinning.

Originally Posted by cgc View Post
Plus I can use my clone to troubleshoot issues (a guest account is helpful too).
What? What are you troubleshooting with a clone?

Originally Posted by chrikenn View Post
As discussed above, the reason I would prefer this is because I don't need the "time machine" features of Time Machine... i.e., I do not need to be able to look back to a snapshot of my drive on a particular day. All I need is a plain vanilla backup, without all the bells and whistles of TM.
TM is just plain vanilla backup, sanely done. It just has a slick interface.

Originally Posted by chrikenn View Post
Sometimes, simpler is preferable. At any rate, thanks again for the comments.
Time Machine is remarkably simple; it's just hardlinks. I think the slickness of the interface makes people think it's complicated.
     
besson3c
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Jan 13, 2010, 02:30 AM
 
mduell is right. Time Machine's backup scheme is similar to Unix backup schemes using cpio, if not exactly that. This backup scheme has been used for god-knows-how-long. It works, and this technique is neither new nor revolutionary. All that is is TM's restore GUI.

The problems that do exist with TM are related to the crappyness of HFS+ as a filesystem.
     
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Jan 13, 2010, 04:15 AM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
I essentially clone to save the work of reinstalling and to provide some protection to my media.
You don't save any work if you clone your harddrive compared to a TimeMachine restore. It just gives you a whole slew of options you don't have with your method:
(1) You can restore to any point in time for which you have a backup.
(2) Instead of `cloning,' you can choose to do a fresh install and then migrate user data only, for instance.
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
How many people need incremental restores? If I need to restore a file I copy it from the clone or from my DropBox. Never had a need for a restore from 2 weeks ago, only the most recent. Have you ever done a restore from a specific time?
You don't need it until you need it! I haven't restored things in quite some time from Time Machine (also because I use git as a version control system, otherwise I would have needed it yesterday), but backups is like a seat belt and arguing that people `don't need incremental backups' because they rarely need it. It's analogous to saying that people don't need a three-point seat belt and that a two-point seat belt will do, because people are rarely in a car crash.

As I have said before, incremental backups are essential because if you don't have them, once you clone a faulty system, you end up with a faulty system on your backup drive. And that's of zero use when you want to `just clone back.'
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
I'm not saying TM isn't good, I'm just trying to understand why everyone loves TM as much as they do.
Have I mentioned that it just works?
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besson3c
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Jan 13, 2010, 04:56 AM
 
OreoCookie: I'd be interested in hearing how you use GIt... I use it heavily myself, but I've been sort of half-tempted to learn more about git push... I rely very heavily on git pull.
     
OreoCookie
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Jan 13, 2010, 06:50 AM
 
I actually use git push a lot in conjunction with Dropbox. I've tried to use it via ssh, but the network settings at university have made it impossible to find a solution that works everywhere. Now I do a git push to my Dropbox (which is first of all just another directory on my computer). Dropbox then syncs this over the network and colleagues of mine (whom I have invited to read and/or write in this directory) can then access the latest version plus all revisions. I recommend you set up a destination in ./.git/remotes. Then all you need to do is `git push dropbox' and you're done with it. To me, that's the killer combo: this way, I don't share all the junk I write with my co-authors, but I give them periodic updates of contributions that have reached a certain maturity. I don't use many of git's fancy features since I mostly use it by myself.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
cgc
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Jan 13, 2010, 09:41 AM
 
One final reason I like CCC and the manual, unsafe, non-incremental method is purely aesthetics: I don't want a backup HDD icon on my desktop. Does TM hide the drive icon?

@mduell: I have troubleshot issues relating to program incompatibility and this has been handy. Kind of a bad alternative to the virgin user account.

Thanks.
     
besson3c
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Jan 13, 2010, 02:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
One final reason I like CCC and the manual, unsafe, non-incremental method is purely aesthetics: I don't want a backup HDD icon on my desktop. Does TM hide the drive icon?

You prefer manual and "unsafe" backups because you don't like there being an extra icon on your Desktop?
     
Hal Itosis
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Jan 13, 2010, 02:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
One final reason I like CCC and the manual, unsafe, non-incremental method is purely aesthetics: I don't want a backup HDD icon on my desktop. Does TM hide the drive icon?
Oh that's a good reason... never thought of that.
(Hmm, isn't icon-hiding up to Finder's prefs?)
-HI-
     
turtle777
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Jan 13, 2010, 02:10 PM
 
Wow, of all the reasons why peoplw reject TM, this has got to be teh winnar.

-t
     
Atheist
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Jan 13, 2010, 02:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by Hal Itosis View Post
Oh that's a good reason... never thought of that.
(Hmm, isn't icon-hiding up to Finder's prefs?)
It is in Snow Leopard... can't remember if it is in Leopard.

(It doesn't surprise me in the least that a Mac OS X user would reject something because of aesthetics.)
     
CharlesS
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Jan 13, 2010, 03:00 PM
 
Oh, for pete's sake. Just turn off viewing external disks in the Finder's preferences. Or, if that's not good enough for you, just give the disk a name that begins with a period.

Ticking sound coming from a .pkg package? Don't let the .bom go off! Inspect it first with Pacifist. Macworld - five mice!
     
cgc
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Jan 13, 2010, 07:10 PM
 
Geez, you all act like that's my sole reason...who's handing out torches and pitchforks at the door?
     
Gankdawg
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Jan 23, 2010, 08:58 AM
 
Another vote for TM, although I do use cloning as well. Every 2 weeks, I clone the drive. I alternate external drives, one is kept off site.
     
cgc
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Jan 28, 2010, 07:46 PM
 
I'll be trying out TM once we buy a house and move in...
     
   
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