I'm planning to upgrade my MacBook's harddrive. I already use Time Machine to back up the system to an external drive. Is it reasonable to use Time Machine to restore my system to the new laptop drive, once I install it?

I mean, a restore like this really ought to be fine, right? That's the point of it, after all!

I know imaging the drive would be more appropriate but this plan seems a whole lot easier (albeit probably slower), with practically no risk since my original drive won't be involved.

A second question would then be, are there any considerations to be made when doing a Time Machine restore?


Yes, a restore with Time Machine from the system DVD will do it right. However, certain "temporary" files aren't backed up, like cache files, so your first boot and login and application launches and whatnot can be slower at first, but will catch up pretty quickly.

  • I installed the new drive last night and restored from the Time Machine backup. It took a long time (5 hours for about 120gb of data)... but couldn't have been easier. I highly recommend this approach. Thanks! Apr 21 '10 at 15:51

I would use a spare external enclosure, or an inexpensive universal drive adapter (SATA/PATA 2.5”/3.5” to USB) to connect the new drive and make a regular bootable “backup” to it before swapping them.

I have heard that Time Machine can do full system restores, but a regular backup utility (e.g. SuperDuper!, Carbon Copy Cloner, etc.) seems like a better match to the job.

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