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I don't have Time Machine enabled just because I don't want to buy an extra device, but I was just wondering? Would it be possible to build an online time machine service?

Would be be reasonable in first place? Maybe in 5 yrs?

What would be the limitations? Technical? Legal? other ?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

There's Time Warp, which is listed as an "Off-site backup that complements Time Machine ®."

Their early beta access costs $25, so it is certainly not freeware.
Correction, from their site: "Price: $25 (free during beta period!)"

I am not affiliated with product or company, I just saw it yesterday on MacWorld.

I hope this helps.

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There are a number of products that do exactly what you are referring to. On windows the company that I work for built a product called Datacastle that does exactly that.

For Time machine to work in this manner, you would need access to network storage of the type that time machine supports, which is somehow secured and authenticated.

So maybe VPN or SSH connection to a hosted Mac OS X Server or HFS+ disk would do the trick.

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Or Macfuse maybe? –  OscarRyz Jul 21 '09 at 3:35

Apart from bandwidth constraints (uploading 10GB+ is not going to be fun), there are no constraint. It is just a matter of time before someone (including Apple) develops some kind of bindings to use Time Machine.

Alternatively, alot of people are already backing up their Macs to online services using services such as Amazon S3 (in conjunction with software such as JungleDisk and Mozy.

Lifehacker has a good guide on Complete, free Mac Backup using SuperDuper, SilverKeeper or Rsync. I suggest you check it out for more detail.

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The big challenge is that end-users' available bandwidth has not kept pace with the amount of data being created locally.

Just to add in another competing back-up product, to the others that have been listed already, I use CrashPlan which does a nice job of de-duplicating data (it doesn't copy the whole file every time it is changed by a few bytes, nor does it have to transfer it again if it's renamed, or duplicated.)

CrashPlan offer a pay-for central backup hosting service (like the Mozy and JungleDisk solutions), or you can get your friends to install it and exchange back-ups (they're all encrypted at source, so they can't see what you've sent them.)

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The biggest limitation is quite simply bandwidth.

For a majority of connections, the initial upload (possible hundreds of gigabytes) is infeasible. Even the "unlimited" connections are most certainly not, and almost all have fair-usage policies which would hinder such transfers.

Also a service receiving hundreds of gigabytes of data from hundreds/thousands of customers seems like a fairly crappy business..

There are such online backup companies (there's loads, like Mozy and Backblaze), but I can't work out how they make enough money to pay for the storage/bandwidth/staff - offering "unlimited storage for just $5" does sound too good to be true, and seems like it is..

Backing up to something like Amazon S3 (or rsync.net), which charges based on the amount of data you store, seem more sane - but Mozy has been around for a while and does seem to be doing quite well

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