I recently set up an external hard drive to use with Time Machine on my Macbook Pro. As nice as the wireless backups of an Apple Time Capsule would be, I don’t need it and thus can’t justify spending the extra on one.
My Macbook Pro had a 120gb hard drive in it at the time and my external hard drive is 750gb, so I figured it should be fine for a backup drive. I turned on Time Machine and once the 750gb drive had been initialised and formatted, it immediately told me that the drive was suitable to use for backing up. It asked if I would like to use it with Time Machine and I said yes.
After that I simply had to specify if I wanted to use the whole drive for backups or only part of it. Once I told it I wanted to use the whole drive thats all that there was for me to setup and it took care of the rest.
Time Machine automatically keeps hourly backups for a 24 hour period as long as the drive is connected. After 24 hours, it keeps daily back ups for a month, and then weekly backups from there on until the back up disk is full. Since it only backs up changes from the original backed up image, it means that it can take quite a while to fill the back up drive. Since I’m running Windows XP in a virtual machine on my Macbook Pro and I suspend it when I’m not using it rather then shutting it down, both the XP disk image and the suspended image are the cause of my largest back ups. Subsequently I back up a minimum of 8gb for pretty much every back up, yet I’ve still only used 360gb of my backup disk in a month.
Accessing your back ups is a breeze. All you have to do is either double click on the Time Capsule disk image on the desktop, or click the “Time Machine” icon in the menu bar and click “Enter Time Machine” from the drop down menu.
Time Machine will slide in over the screen with your current hard drive state shown in a Finder window in the foreground. Behind the current Finder window are a series of smaller Finder windows that gradually get smaller and smaller as they disappear into the background. Each of these windows contains the state of the hard drive at a particular time in chronological order with the most recent behind the current window and the oldest way back in the distance.
Clicking any window will take you straight to that back up, or you can move between back ups using the arrows or the time line. The time line is probably the easiest method for getting a specified back up since it lists the back up times and dates and allows you to quickly jump to a particular time.
To restore a backed up file, all you have to do is go to it and click restore, Time Machine does the rest for you. It really is extremely easy to use and a great way of allowing back ups to be accessed and restored.