Restoring with Time Machine

Posted: December 23, 2008 in Apple, backup, Mac OSX
Tags: , , ,

You have to appreciate a program that just sits quietly in the background and then, when you need it, comes through with flying colours.  Apple’s Time Machine is exactly that.

I’ve been using Time Machine since shortly after upgrading to Leopard otherwise known as Mac OS10.5 or X.5, and have used the restore component a couple of times to bring back older copies of files, or files that i thought i no longer needed that had been deleted, nothing major, but its nice to know it was always there, backing up on a regular basis all my data just in case something bad happened.  I hadn’t given it much thought about using it as a way to recover all the files etc when doing a hard drive replacement until last week.  I have been running my MacBook with about 20 gig free space, which always caused me grief when i needed to edit a movie or burn a DVD since i had very little “breathing” room on my drive.  So after deciding i would not get myself a brand new aluminum MacBook and just keep this one for a while longer, i knew i needed to put a larger hard drive in it.  I picked up a 7200 rpm 250 gig Seagate HD from a local store and proceeded to install it, after purchasing a torx 8 screwdriver that is.  I removed the drive mounting case from the old drive, put the new HD in it  and slid it back into my mac, put the ‘l’ bracket back in, installed the battery and flipped the ‘book over.  I pressed the power button.  Nothing.  i thought.  hmmm, that strange, and tried it again.  Nothing.  no noise, no lights, not even a flicker.  Yikes.  My first thought was, the drive’s dead, but that made no sense, there would have been a warning if the drive could not be found.  What had i done?  I decided to put the old drive back in and went through the process again.  still nothing, it seemed to have no power.  I figured now was a good time to see what the inside of my MacBook looked like and check for anything that looked wrong or disconnected or broke.

For any of you who don’t like to play doctor and dissect electronics, then this is not something you want to try.  there are about 20 screws you need to take out in a very specific order to get the top case off the MacBook, and a little prying is involved at just the right angle to release the top case which contains the trackpad and the keyboard and the power button from the bottom part of the case.  Without boring you with the details, i managed to get it all apart, checked over all the connectors and components and took the opportunity to blow out the 2 years of dust, but could find no evidence of a problem visually.  This is the point when i figure its best to let the pros deal with it, so i put it back together and brought it to my local Apple repair facility, who were nice enough to look at it right away and although i was expecting the worse – bad logic board was running through my mind – called me an hour after dropping it off to tell me it was a faulty power button.  So a whole new top case later and i had my trusty Mac back in my hands and ready for the hard drive replacement.  Remove battery, remove bracket, remove drive, replace drive, install bracket and put battery back in, and then push power button and voila!  Power.  i connected my USB external drive and inserted the Leopard disk and let the install proceed to the point i could quit it and then go up to the menu bar and under utilities, click on Restore.

Its a simple case of selecting where you want to restore from, and which restore point and then selecting where to restore to.  You get to see all the complete restore points on your backup drive, so i of course selected the latest, since i knew it was a good working install, if you were having issues with your os, or knew you had screwed up something or possibly installed something you didn’t want after all, you could choose a slightly older restore point for yourself.

The process is a bit lengthy, but that is understandable because in my case i was restoring about 90 gig of info to the drive.  At the end you will be greeted with a window announcing the operation is complete and you are about to start up from the restored drive.  A quick restart later and i was logging into my Mac’s brand new hard drive that was an exact duplicate of the older smaller drive.  I quickly checked a number of programs and files to ensure i had everything, and so far so good, nothing missing except for a Downloads folder which i never backed up in the first place, so no surprise it was not restored.  A simple copy from the old drive to the new one and i was done.

All in all, a relatively painless procedure that with the help of a very good built in app from Apple, went very smoothly.  Twice actually – but that’s a story for another blog.  Time Machine, not just an H.G Wells screenplay, its a must have app.


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