Apr 09

Last week at around 2pm Friday afternoon I was working away having a IM conversation with a client and I heard a ‘click… click click’ from my MacBook Pro, then, the computer stopped responding. I knew what was going to happen in the next second or two.. and it did. My hard drive died. After one and half years of turning away almost 24 hours a day it gave out. All my data gone, years and years of emails gone, every piece of work, every contact, every line code ever written gone, every picture every taken in my life, gone.

The only reason why I was not totally freaking was that last month I had bought a external drive and enabled Time Machine backups. What was a little scary was that only solution, there where no other backups any where. I had put my entire faith in Apple’s Time Machine and I was about to find out if it was a good idea or not.

timemachine_icon20071016.pngSo my plan was to go buy a 500GB external hard drive and partition it into two parts. One half to make a backup of my Time Machine data (just in case) and the other half to install Mac OS X, then restore from my Time Machine data in order to use it to boot from so I am able to work while I wait for my replacement drive.

After about 8 hours or so (I was out so I can’t be sure) of restoring from my Time Machine share over ethernet I went to boot from my external drive for the first time and… it was perfect. Time Machine has done a perfect job of capturing all the data and then restoring it. All my mail, photos, documents development environments were all perfect and working. I’m a pretty hard core Apple fan-boy (I have the T-Shirts, I do the Windows trash talking, and most importantly I live a Windows free life) but I was just glowing at this point. I had put my entire faith in Apple’s Time Machine and it was a good idea.

But, as the title reads, Time Machine is not perfect… This next part will not effect 95% of Apple users as they don’t use Terminal or make changes to the OS… After a few days I noticed that some things were missing. I started keeping a list:


  • Printers – my printers were not backed up. I had to add them again.
  • /etc/bashrc – the file was not backed up but the contents of the dir was. Weird.
  • /System/Library/StartupItems – The contents of that dir was not backed up. I noticed this because my Cisco vpn client failed. I ran the installer again and it installs a dir there: /CiscoVPN/CiscoVPN.
  • Security System Preferences – It was not returned to the same state. Usually have everything checked except for the ‘Log out after n minutes of inactivity’.
  • Time Machine System Preferences – It was ‘off’ when I restarted my machine. It was turned on when the machine crashed, on restore you have to manually turn it on again.

Personally, I think, for the consumer not commercial, Apple is way ahead if it’s time. If you look at it technically it was amazing what just happened… with a few clicks on some big buttons… I had my machine back in a perfect state.

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