4 Replies Latest reply: May 6, 2011 12:29 PM by Alberto Ravasio
David Thornton Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)

Short question: Is it a bad idea to set up Time Machine on a Snow Leopard Server for a quick & easy way for accidentally-deleted files to be retrieved?


Long Version: I am the IT department for a small printing company, and am preparing to leave for a three-week vacation. The Mac server used by the graphics department -- a Mac mini Server with the two 500GB drives mirrored for redundancy -- currently has about 350GB of working files on it. The server is backed up daily by Retrospect running on a Windows machine, but the people that will be responsible for keeping things running on the Mac side of the network aren't entirely comfortable with the process of retrieving files through Retrospect, and have asked if using Time Machine on the server would be a possibility. It's not often that files need to be retrieved from backup; only when something is accidentally deleted, or a change is made to the wrong file.



I've done some investigating, and the ease of retrieving files is appealing, but the thing I dislike most about the idea is the 1-hour backup increments; won't that affect access to the server? If I do set up Time Machine, I'd likely just attach a 1TB USB drive to the server for the task and keep the Retrospect daily backup going as well.



Do the hourly backups affect access to the server at all? (about 12 users on any given day.) Any other pros or cons that aren't immediately obvious to using Time Machine, or is it just a bad idea to use it on a server?



Thanks for any advice you have to offer.

Mac mini, Mac OS X (10.6.7), Server
  • 1. Re: Using Time Machine on Server?
    Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (226,775 points)

    TM is really intended as a single-user backup solution, not a situation such as you describe.  What might work better for your Mac people is for them to use TM on their individual machines to backup to their own external drives.  However, that probably is not a feasible solution.


    To add to the problem TM will not backup to a Windows server that does not support AFP protocols.  You could set up some macros for Retrospect to ease the pain of retrieving data.


    In any event if you are going to attach a 1 TB drive to the Windows server, why not simply attach it to the Mini?  You can use TM to backup the mirrored RAID to the 1 TB drive.  TM's overhead isn't that hefty.

  • 2. Re: Using Time Machine on Server?
    gracoat Level 3 Level 3 (660 points)

    I agree with Kappy.  If all you're trying to do is make file retrieval easy, then you'll be fine with time machine.

    Note that time machine doesn't back up databases.  Things like the email database, MySQL, and most importantly, Open Directory. 


    Do not think that you're backing up your complete server with time machine.  It will not restore your server whole. 

    As far as overhead, I have time machine working with about 900 gigs of user data.  It runs its backup every hour for about 4 minutes.  My users haven't said a word.  Here's an image of the server graphs.  You can see that time machine blips for a short time, but it's totally reasonable.  Those blips are taking place overnight.  During the day the server continues merrily along without interruption at all from time machine.

    Screen shot 2011-04-27 at 8.53.54 AM.png

  • 3. Re: Using Time Machine on Server?
    David Thornton Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)

    Kappy: The 1TB drive would be connected directly to the Mac mini, not a Windows machine nor over the network.


    I should probably also mention that the Snow Leopard Server is only doing file sharing; email & all else are handled elsewhere.


    Thank you gracoat; that information is exactly what I was looking for, some assurance that running TM on the server wouldn't slow things down.

  • 4. Re: Using Time Machine on Server?
    Alberto Ravasio Level 4 Level 4 (3,175 points)

    When I moved from Windows 2003 server to Mac mini server 450GB of data and, when all was in place I attached for the first time to the mini the 1TB TM hard drive during working hours, the 25 users didn't notice anything at all.


    The mini was under pressure for about 4 hours but as I said no noticeable slow down for the users.