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According to this question

Does Apple's Time Machine app really copy everthing

Time Machine can do a full system restore as long as you have the original OS dvd.

With this in mind, is there any point to doing a full system backup (see here) using other software?

Why not just use Time Machine? It seems to cover System and Data backups no?


so far the answers have been about redundancy, and replication... which are excellent points.

But I'm asking about tool and strategies. I'm assuming once I backup using time machine or any tool, then I can replicated and off site that backup independently right?

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The above comments are valid but there is another possible reason to not rely on Time Machine alone if you are use certain software.

Any software that uses a monolithic database of some sort can be a problem. Microsoft's Entourage is probably the best example. It crams all of the mail and calendar information into a single file buried in the Microsoft User Data folder. The size of this database can grow to multiple gigabytes in size. If a single new message comes in between Time Machine backups, then entire database is seen as changed and Time Machine will try to copy the entire file again.

Additionally, since the mail database is always open by a background process, backing up a user database with Time Machine used to corrupt it. I don't know if this is still a problem. Probably so. I've always recommended excluding the Entourage database.

Other applications like VMWare and Parallels use large disk images to hold their client operating systems. These have the same problem. Time Machine may try to back up multi-gigabyte files every hour, quickly filling the backup drive and leaving the user with less protection than they might imagine.

There is a chance that Filemaker Pro files might be corrupted by a Time Machine Backup or that the Filemaker files might not be backed up as regularly as expected. Filemaker advises excluding them from Time Machine. Source

So if you're using any of these sorts of applications, you need to exclude these files from Time Machine and find alternate methods of backing them up.


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hmm... good comments theo. any alternative? – andy Sep 13 '10 at 0:25
A regular backup of just the monolithic files using Carbon Copy Cloner or something like it would do the trick. Cloner has the option to pick individual files or folders. – Theo Belk Oct 1 '10 at 14:06
For Filemaker, Cloner can do the same thing, just make sure the documents are closed to get a good backup. When Filemaker documents are copied when open, they might not be in a completely saved state. Then if you have to open them again, you get the warning and a consistency check. If you have really critical Filemaker databases, they should be on a Filemaker Server. The Server regularly does consistency checks and has robust and versatile scheduled backups. – Theo Belk Oct 1 '10 at 14:10

If you have one backup, than you have none. What will you do if your Time Machine fails when you're trying to restore?

If you have really important files, you should backup your data using Time Machine and additional strategies.

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i'm not sure that answer makes sense. can't I just backup using time machine, and then backup that time machine drive weekly to an online source. the question is more about software options and strategies as opposed to redundancies. – andy Sep 12 '10 at 3:01
Yes, you can backup the time machine. But if the backup of your time machine goes wrong, now you have two useless backups. For some other strategies/solutions, check this link (it's old but it's interesting): – GmonC Sep 12 '10 at 3:39
hmm... interesting, thanks dude – andy Sep 12 '10 at 3:42

Why backing up to the server/computer itself is bad:

A couple quotes from that:

Yes, yes, I absolutely should have done complete offsite backups. Unfortunately, all my backups were on the server itself.


Please don't refer to what you did as "backups" - if those files are on the same server, they're in no way "backups."

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Ah yes, Jeff's escapades. Good question and demonstration of how not to backups. – Sathya Sep 12 '10 at 3:04

Agreed GmonC, I used a single solution, backing up to an external HD. During the restore, my computer died (bad motherboard), and corrupted the entire backup.

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