Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup System 10.5
In the event of a drive failure, Time Machine has the ability to create a bootable backup. It takes some preparation, however, which must be done before disaster strikes.

Using Disk Utility, create a partition on the drive you are using for Time Machine (see Disk Utility Help for instructions on how to do this without erasing your Time Machine backups). The new partition must be large enough to hold the contents of your computer's drive, plus 10 or 20Gb of elbow room. If your system weighs 85Gb, then the new partition should be 100Gb or so. Leave this partition blank, and go on with your life.

Now, when (not if!) your Mac's drive fails, do the following. Make sure your Time Machine drive is plugged in and powered on, then insert your Mac OS X Install disc and restart your Mac. In the installer, choose Utilities » Restore System from Backup. Click Continue in the resulting dialog, then select your Time Machine volume. Choose the Time Machine backup that you want to restore (probably the most recent).

Then, when you are prompted for a destination volume, choose the empty partition you created on your Time Machine drive. Time Machine will create a bootable duplicate of your system, which you can use until you replace your faulty main drive. When your Mac is healthy again, you can reinstall your system from the backup drive using either Time Machine, or Migration Assistant (from the new bootable volume you created).

Note that this solution hinges on the ability to get an install disk inserted and booted, on your broken Mac. The paranoid obsessive backer-upper will also want to have a (SuperDuper or Carbon Copy) clone of his drive stashed somewhere.
    •    
  • Currently 2.63 / 5
  You rated: 4 / 5 (8 votes cast)
 
[27,571 views]  

10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup | 16 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the '10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: michelle_eris on Jun 17, '08 09:17:46AM

To do this with a Time Capsule, you have to partition the sparse bundle.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: joon on Jun 17, '08 10:09:09AM

The point of this hint is to be able to have a bootable drive as quick as possible. Time Capsule doesn't apply here.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Or wait and buy an external HDD when you need it
Authored by: sr105 on Jun 17, '08 09:34:29AM

Why not wait until the failure, drive to your local retailer, purchase an external HDD, and then restore?

I'm not saying this is a better solution, just an alternative for those of us that live within 30 minutes of a Target or other similar store. This solution also scales better (as you increase the number of macs) since you get to fully utilize all of the space on your backup drive and you only spend extra when you need to.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Or wait and buy an external HDD when you need it
Authored by: MrLucky on Jun 17, '08 11:18:50AM
At that point, I'll simply be buying a new internal HDD. The above solution is simply a way to stay up and running (at no extra cost) until you can get your machine sorted.

[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: asmeurer on Jun 17, '08 11:11:48AM

I don't see the need to partition your drive ahead of time, except maybe to make sure that space is available. Disk Utility on the install disk will let you partition once your disk fails.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: Felix on Jun 17, '08 11:22:24AM

>> I don't see the need to partition your drive ahead of time, except maybe to make sure that space is available. Disk Utility on the install disk will let you partition once your disk fails.

Thank you!! Just answered my question...I didn't see why that blank partition needed to be sitting there unused either.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: carbon60 on Jun 17, '08 12:10:10PM
I suggest that repartitioning the drive your backups are on before doing a restore is absolute insanity.

[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: windrag on Jun 17, '08 01:34:14PM

Except for the fact that Time Machine will keep making backups until the partition its assigned to fills up. At that point, if you you try to repartition, you'll be overwriting data.

Or am I missing something. I think this is a great hint.

---
windrag | 2.4GHz MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo | 160GB HD | 2GB RAM | OS X 10.5.1



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: baltwo on Jun 17, '08 02:15:10PM
The paranoid obsessive backer-upper will also want to have a (SuperDuper or Carbon Copy) clone of his drive stashed somewhere.
They're not paranoid nor obsessive. Having an up-to-date bootable backup/clone that you can test to ensure it works exactly like the original is a lot better than banking on making a good bootable backup after your main boot volume exhibits problems. With an up-to-date backup/clone, all you have to do is restore it to the main HD. Just my 2ยข.

[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: MrLucky on Jun 17, '08 02:52:40PM
Absolutely. I was being facetious about the 'paranoid obsessive' part. My livelihood is in my Mac, so I keep a SuperDuper backup, a set of DVD backups, a .mac backup, and, just to be thorough, I put everything I absolutely do not want to lose onto the safest, most reliable medium, good old paper.

[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: DylanMuir on Jun 19, '08 07:27:16AM

Just a note, I'm pretty sure you can only restore a bootable copy from a Time Machine backup if your backup includes the system files. That is, if you've set Time Machine to exclude "System files and applications" in the Time Machine preference panel, OS X isn't smart enough to install the OS on a blank partition and pull everything out of the backup at the same time.

DRM



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: MrLucky on Jun 19, '08 10:03:18AM

A good point. I guess in this case you would first have to install OS X and your applications onto the blank partition, which you should still be able to do even if your main hard drive has failed (as long as you have their original install discs).



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: nedaf7 on Jun 21, '08 12:26:12PM

In fact, this just happened to me when my MacBook's internal HD crashed. I simply replaced the drive, reinstalled Leopard, applied the system updates, and used Migration Assistant to move the data from my external Time Machine drive. I would like to point out that at first, I forgot that I had excluded the system files from my backup, so I tried to select my Time Machine backup when I installed Leopard. It actually let me do this, and then hung at the screen where it shows your backup recovery progress. I was pretty concerned until I realized what was going on.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: nedaf7 on Jun 21, '08 12:27:49PM

Woops... that last comment was a reply to DylanMuir's.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: MrLucky on Jun 20, '08 11:20:11AM

In my case, it was time to buy a new MacBook (I bought the old one when it was Core (not 2) Duo, with 512Mb memory and 80Gb HD).

The backup volume I made with Time Machine worked fine and I used it without incident until my new MacBook arrived a week later.

I then installed my system onto the new MacBook using the latest Time Machine backup, and everything was hunky-dory.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Use Time Machine to create a bootable backup
Authored by: zegor on Oct 05, '08 09:32:15PM

A variation on the method (to make it a self-contained solution).

1) Partition your backup harddisk right away. Once disaster strikes you DO NOT want to do anything to the harddisk that has all your precious data. So - partition it NOW, when you still have the original data if the partitioning goes bad... Leaving an empty partition the size of your system disk is well worth the (marginal) extra cost.

2) Partition as follows:
- Mac OS X Install (7.2 GB)

- Boot partition (The size of your backed-up harddisk)

- (For the really experienced or disaster-prone:) A snapshot partition (The size of your backed-up harddisk))

- Time Machine (the remainder of the space on your backup harddisk).

E.g., my USB-powered Macbook Air recovery disk is partitioned 7.2 + 55 + 55 + 390GB

3) Populate the partitions as follows:
- Use the hard disk utility (or another block level duplication utility, e.g., Carbon Copy Cloner) to block-level copy the install dvd (disk 1 if more than one) to the "Mac OS X Install" partition. The result is a bootable partition.

- Leave the boot partition empty

- Make a system snapshot to the "snapshot partition" (using CCC or the equivalent - making it a bootable volume). Redo whenever you feel like it.

- Point the time machine to the "Time Machine" partition.

4) WHEN disaster strikes (and it will), do the following variant on the hint:
a) Boot from the "Mac OS X Install" partition

b) Then follow the hint given: On the second panel (after choosing a language) go to the utility menu and select "restore from backup". When given a choice about which one, pick the (most recent) one from the "Time Machine" partition, and for destination select "Boot partition."

Why the variation?
1) Some machines do not have DVD drives (e.g., the Macbook Air)
2) This way everything is in ONE place (on that one harddisk). Just one thing to remember to bring when you travel (which is when disaster strikes)

A couple of notes:
1) Restore from backup is a LOT faster than an installation followed by a migration. On my MBA the restoration takes about 90 minutes, whereas the install + migration takes hours. I suspect it is also a higher fidelity restoration of the original system.

2) Small, USB-powered disks are getting very cheap - I carry a 500 GB Store-it Drive with me when I travel, and the safety it provides is wonderful (see below)...

A WARNING:
The DVD media distributed with the early Macbook Airs (system 10.5.2) is DEFECTIVE: The "restore from backup" crashes almost immediately. The media distributed with later MBAs (I have 10.5.4) functions well.

An anecdote illustrating why this is important:
I once arrived in Mumbai at midnight after 14 hours of work done on the plane. During work I had my USB drive plugged in, and time machine did its thing. Upon arrival I realized that I did not have the phone number of hotel, and upon opening the MBA to retrieve it discovered that its harddisk had gone missing.

Recovery (this done e middle of the night, balancing the MBA on a luggage cart in a sea of people):
- Boot from the USB disk into the snapshot partition (20 seconds).
- Use time machine to retrieve the file with the phone number (20 seconds).
- Shut down the MBA and,
- Call hotel

- Arrive at hotel
- Boot from the "Mac OS X install partition" (<1 minute)
- Use "restore from backup" to the empty boot partition (90 minutes)
- Restart from the (now restored) boot partition, and then
- Continue working, with data current as of the time of arrival in Mumbai.

- Get home (one week later, lots of work done, all on the USB disk)
- Turn in the MBA for repairs while continuing to work on another computer, off the USB disk (now safely backed up, of course).
- Retrieve the Air from the shop, and image the USB boot partition back to the repaired Air.

Lessons:
1) Your harddisk WILL DIE. and at the most inopportune time imaginable.
2) With proper preparation (in this case $2-300 worth of harddisk, properly set up) recovery is a matter of an hour or two only.






[ Reply to This | # ]