1 Reply Latest reply: Dec 11, 2012 8:18 PM by John Galt
Wendy Asea Level 1 (15 points)

Knowing my iMac is getting a bit old and not wanting to live through another hard drive crash, I just bought a Western Digital MyBook for Mac external hard drive, ITB.  Just a few things I'd really appreciate some help with:


1.  When I first started it up, it gave me the option of using it with Time Machine, which I did.  The progress bar started up, and moved along very slowly, which is understandable.  What I'm NOT sure of though, is that at the rate it was going, it should have taken quite a few hours to complete.  I had to go out and when I came back about 2 hours later, my screensaver was on, I had to relog into my desktop, and the progress bar was gone.  Now I'm not sure if it finished the back-up or not.....if the fact that the screensaver/log out came on, would that have knocked off the back up in progress?


2.  How do I check to make sure things are backed up?  If I click on Time Machine in the dock, it brings up a window of my destop with a receding series of the same thing.....are they 'pictures' of my backups?   If I click on them, does that show me what has actually been backed up?


3.  What I really want is to make sure certain files and especially my photos and music are backed up.  Is Time Machine my best option for this or should I have just gone straight to the external hard drive?  I really don't know anything about using either of these, and while I was browsing around for answers I found people having problems with deleted files, etc, so that worries me. 


Any help --- spelled out in REALLY simple language, please -- would be gratly appreciated!!  Thank you!!

  • John Galt Level 8 (44,610 points)

    1. The backup most likely completed normally. There is no dialog box indicating the completion. The screen saver will have no effect on this. If you want to know the date and time of the last complete backup click the Time Machine menu icon:

    Screen Shot 2012-12-11 at 11.03.44 PM.png

    2. Yes. The "star wars" display shows you a picture of whatever you happened to have in the frontmost window when you entered Time Machine, and all its backups through the oldest one that exists. You will not have much to look at until a number of backups occur (by default, once an hour). If you want to restore an individual file or folder, navigate to the one you need and click "Restore". If a newer copy already exists in the same location on your Mac, Time Machine will ask you what you want to do with it.


    Bear in mind Time Machine is a backup utility. It is not an archiving utility. If you delete a file from your Mac, it will be deleted in Time Machine eventually. This could be as little as one hour from the time you deleted it from your Mac. The deletion of backup files is a function of Time Machine's clever algorithms.


    3. Time Machine is one option. It is probably the easiest backup method to use, is wonderfully integrated in OS X, but offers little in the way of customization or configuration. Use it for a while and you will become familiar with it.


    Individual photos in iPhoto are not easily retrievable in the current version of iPhoto. If you need to retrieve one or more individual photographs without altering your existing iPhoto Library you must restore the backup iPhoto Library to an alternate location. Choose that Library when you open iPhoto, export the ones you need, close iPhoto, open the existing Library, and import them. It's a clunky workaround but that's how iPhoto works now.


    Music is a little easier. At least as of iTunes 10.x, you can still navigate to individual music files and folders if you need to restore them.


    If you want to augment Time Machine with another backup method, consider Carbon Copy Cloner. It is not free, and it follows a very different philosophy. It is a good idea not to rely upon one and only one backup method. I use both.


    For answers to just about any question you could imagine regarding Time Machine, avail yourself of Apple Support Communities contributor Pondini's Time Machine FAQ.