Time Machine is the backup feature of Apple’s Mac OS X 10.5 operating system. So what is Time Machine, and what exactly does it do with your data?
Time Machine safeguards your data using a process called incremental backups. In a regular backup, a copy of your data is made. If you experience data loss, you go and fetch the backup copy. In an incremental backup, many different copies of your data are made by Time Machine automatically.
Each time that Time Machine performs a backup, instead of overwriting the last backup, it saves all of the changes that have been made to your data since the last backup. When the backup drive has been filled, Time Machine removes the oldest backup to make room for the newest.
Benefits of Incremental Backups
The fact that many revisions of your data is kept forms the basis for the name “Time Machine”. Since you have a copy of each successive version of your data going back to a certain point, you have the option of “going back in time”. By doing so, you can restore a document the state it was in at a certain date and time. Accidentally deleted important information from a report? Restore the backup from a few hours ago. Hard drive crashed overnight? Buy a new one and restore the backup from a day earlier.
How to Use Time Machine
In true Apple fashion, Time Machine is very simple to use. All you need to do is purchase an external hard drive and plug it into your Mac. Leopard will ask if you wish to use the new drive for Time Machine. Answer “yes”, and you have just dove into the world of incremental backups.
The larger the capacity of your external drive, the more incremental backups Time Machine can store. I would suggest getting an external drive whose capacity is at least equal to that of your Mac’s internal hard drive.