I have a dual-boot MacBook Pro with multiple partitions - of which most are not MacOS partitions.

I'd like to have a backup program that backs up the entire drive including all partitions.

Can Time Machine do that?


Time Machine will not back up partitions that are not formatted Mac OS Extended (i.e. HFS+). Therefore, the dual-boot partition will not be backed up automatically. Having said that, programs that back up the entire drive including the partitions should typically used for a one-shot cloning of an entire drive and not for regular backup, in my opinion. A great backup tool if your dual-boot OS is Windows is Winclone. Use it in combination with Time Machine and your system should be sufficiently backed up. Despite the picture below showing Macintosh HD, Winclone specializes in FAT32/NTFS partitions.

In the case that the dual boot OS is Linux, my suggestion would be to format an external hard drive with 2 partitions with the same filesystems as the OS's. Then backup each OS independently with tools available in the host OS. Again, I think that it is much more reliable to backup changed files on a regular basis rather than cloning the entire drive. So e.g. rsync in Linux and Time Machine in OS X.

Winclone appears to be discontinued now. Regular Windows backup utilities can be used instead on an NTFS-formatted external.

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    Hi Fideli thanks for this answer. Actually I'm not dual-booting with Windows, but your idea of disk-image software is a good one. I don't really want to backup everything all the time... but I would like to backup my work code fairly regularly (on the Ubuntu partition) along with my photography (on my Mac partition). Guess I'll have to find another solution for that :) – Taryn East Jul 11 '10 at 11:37

I know you've already accepted the answer, but a few notes;

(1) I would suggest now (and in the future) adding the details in your comment also into the first post. It's easier for new comers to jump in.

(2) Time Machine will back up two Mac (HFS+) partitions, but the story is completely different if they're FAT (neutral), EXT3 (Linux), or NTFS (Windows). These details about what the two partitions are matter heavily.

(3) In regards to the specific example of backing up source files, I've never liked that, as it always seems to get very kludgy very fast. A private repository hosted by a premium source code repository provider kept continually in sync is a wonderful off-site backup. Examples; GitHub, BitBucket, and... forgive me but I can't think of an SVN host that allows private repositories. Potentially SourceForge but I don't know first hand.

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  • I have (several) external repositories for my source code. However, I have many, many clients... and restoring all of the structure of my extensive system of checkouts would just be bloody annoying. :P – Taryn East Sep 8 '10 at 11:14
  • But there's also other things such as my mail, my photos, and collections of documents (from all over the web) etc that aren't hosted on an external repo as they don't need to be versioned... but I'd hate to lose them all. etc etc – Taryn East Sep 8 '10 at 11:16
  • As to updating to point out partition-types... I guess I'd assumed that "dual boot" made it obvious that some partitions were non-mac... I've updated t make it really clear what I meant. – Taryn East Sep 8 '10 at 11:18
  • Re: 1st and 2nd comments. I was advocating a source control system for source code, and a traditional backup (Carbonite, Mozy, JungleDisk) for everything else. Re: 3rd; Dual Boot can mean anything. Win-Win, Win-Lin, OSX-Win, OSX-Lin. And all of these are very very /very/ different situations with regard to backups. – VxJasonxV Sep 8 '10 at 19:43
  • Yes, I'm aware that your question content and tags reference OSX, but still. Dual Boot can mean OSX-OSX, OSX-Win, OSX-Lin, and some people call it dual boot generically to mean any combination of OSes. OSX-Win-Lin being the most popular of all tri-boot setups. – VxJasonxV Sep 8 '10 at 20:01

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