Martin @ Blog

software development and life.


Broken MacBook and Timemachine

Last week, the screen of my MacBook started to behave strange. Just to the left of the center was a band of approximately 5 centimeters wide with a distorted image. First it was only for a minute or so, but over the week it stayed longer until it eventually didn’t disappear anymore. So, my MacBook had to be repaired. Because the computer is owned by my employer and I use the system every day for my work, I got a temporarily replacement MacBook with similar specs, only a white one with a 2GHz processor (my MacBook is black with a 2,16GHz proc.).
Since about 4 months, I make regular backups of my MacBook using Time Machine with a 2,5″ 250GB external USB hard disk, but I never tried to restore a backup. This time, I thought, was an excellent opportunity to try if it works as expected. Since I had some difficulties for Time Machine (at least, I thought I had), like applications in the /usr/local directory and quite a lot Macports applications in /opt/local, and modified versions of some configuration files, I was curious if Time Machine would restore everything in its original state.

I started rebooting my spare MacBook using the Leopard DVD and did a full format of the hard disk and did a fresh install of Leopard. I read on the Internet that after the installation, you had the option to restore settings from a Time Machine backup. After the installation completed, the installation program indeed gave me the option to restore a Time Machine backup. I choose this option and connected my external hard drive with my backups. It recognized there was a backup on this drive and the installation tool gave me the opportunity to restore this backup. This took quite a while (don’t know how long exactly, because I started it and left it alone while sporting). After it was finished and the system rebooted, my account seemed to be fully restored. Almost everything was as expected, which surprised me. The following things weren’t as they should have been:

  • my /etc/bashrc was modified but not restored
  • MacFuse wasn’t restored (I don’t know why)
  • My iTunes account wasn’t activated (understandable, but annoying)

I was really surprised this worked so well. Even my (rather messy) Eclipse configuration and other development tools were restored as expected. My MySQL (in /usr/local) custom build PHP5 (in /usr/local) and Macports were all migrated as expected. I thing Time Machine is a really big improvement over existing backup solutions and definitely a big plus for Mac OS X!


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