Thursday, March 25, 2010

Restoring a Mac from Time Machine -- some tips

These are some old notes from March, when I upgrade to a 640G internal disk.

My second time restoring a system from Time Machine backups:

best practices:
  • close everything possible. All your running apps, and as many things in the menu bar as possible. Run activity monitor and double check (eg, sometimes my firefox does not exit properly...)
  • check what you have excluded in TM
    through gui, or in cmd line with
    defaults read /Library/Preferences/
  • TM restore now
  • ? reboot in safe mode
  • ? TM again
Last two for the truly paranoid, or if you ever got burned by TM before. I didn't do it.

Things that (i thought) broke first time:
  • java (plugin only?)
  • usb kb modifier key settings--
    I use an external keyboard, and I have capslock mapped to control (both keyboards), and Alt mapped to command (with the 'windows' key being option).
But I think the first time was an earlier 10.6 release, so maybe it got fixed.
After the second time, I haven't noticed anything breaking (yet).

Speeding up the restore process.
Because when you first start it may say "19 hours remaining...":
  • don't include archives/media you don't need right away
    (eg anything you could reproduce easily later: a dvd rip, etc; software downloads
    virtual machines (I exclude from time machine; any (good) reasons not to?)
    stuff you already backup on your own
  • other excluded directories from time machine
    alternative: back these up to another disk now, delete locally, force a time machine backup.
    Or just move to a non-TM dir? After all, you can get them back from TM (just be sure to by the end of the day..).
Afterwards / testing:
  • no problems with VMware.
    The first time I got questions asking "did you copy these? or move them from another machine"
    oh, that's right--the first TM restore I did was to a different laptop... some of my problems with because of host-specific settings.

Filevault interaction ?
I don't use filevault, so I don't know. I didn't know about it when I first started using my Mac. I later read about issues with Time Machine -- it only backs up your filevault files when you're logged out, and I'm never logged out.
But I just found a post somewhere how to do it: 10.6: Let Time Machine backup File Vault while logged in -- but I haven't tried it.

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