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time_machine_icon.gifTime Machine is a backup utility that was introduced with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.  You use Time Machine with an external hard drive to automatically back up your entire Mac computer, so that you never have to worry again about losing files.  It not only keeps a spare copy of every file, but it remembers how your computer looked on any given day, so you can "go back in time" to recover a file and restore it to the present.  After you've backed up your entire Mac, Time Machine automatically backs up every hour, every day, copying just the files that have changed since the last back up.  It will save the hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for everything older than a month.  And it does all this in the background, so you can continue to work on your computer while Time Machine is busy copying your files.  More about Time Machine after the jump...

Setting up your Time Machine is really pretty easy and user friendly.  Just connect your external hard drive to your Mac, and your computer will recognize if you haven't used the drive before and will automatically ask you if you want the external hard drive to function as a Time Machine backup.  Click Use as Backup Disk.  Time Machine will begin to back up your drive for the first time.  The initial process will most likely take a couple of hours since it will literally be copying thousands of files, so be patient!
time_machine_setup.gifRecovering a File:  If you lose a file or have accidentally deleted it, just open the folder where you kept it, and launch Time Machine.  Your desktop is then transformed into a "space-like" interface, and the open folder is shown cascading back in time.  Clicking the arrows to the right of the screen will go forward and backward in time, scanning through the various backup dates.  When you find the file to restore, select it and press the Restore button in the lower right corner.  Time Machine will exit and copy the file back to its original location.

time_machine_3.png Migrating to a new Mac:  If you purchase a new Mac, the first time you turn it on, it will ask you if you want to transfer your information.  Select the option, From a Time Machine Backup, and make sure your drive is connected to your new Mac.  Next, choose the volumes with your backups and choose which information you want to transfer.  Click Transfer, and your information will begin copying over to your new Mac.

time_machine_4.png  Backing up your computer is a necessary task that a lot of us fail to do until it's too late.  But with Time Machine, it's a lot easier to ensure that your files are always backed up and protected.


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