Thursday, March 11, 2010

OS X Time Machine Lacking in Options

My time tested method for backing up my laptop was to run a Bash script that would rsync various directories to my Linux server at home.  The nice things about this were:
  • I was in complete control of what got backed up and how.
  • I could work on things just as easily on the Linux server as I could on my OS X based laptop.
  • Copying things back over to the laptop was a cinch.
  • I could schedule it to run as frequently or infrequently as I wanted by using a chron job.
This method of backup worked wonders for me, but my wife did was not onboard with using Linux.  I was intrigued by the osX86, so I hacked a mac.  It works great!  It is stable, fast, and easy to use.  I had not been able to use time-machine for backups before, but I thought I would give it a shot.  I set it up on my laptop to backup to the desktop and when I say I set it up, there was very little to configure.  I know that is the idea, to make it dead simple for everyone, but at least give me an advanced options pannel or something.  Here are some of the things that bother me that I would like to change:

  • It tires to backup my laptop when I am away from home, and this would not be a problem if it were not for the resources that it uses.  It seems to access the disk so heavily that it slows other applications.
  • You can exclude some directories from being backed up, but that is about the extent of the options.
I am not going to be one of the people that complain about a problem and don't suggest possible solutions, so here are some things that I would like to see.
  • Backup only when connected to my home network (can be recognized by subnet).
  • Allow choice of how a directory should be backed up.  Some I would like to be backed up more often than others, and some I would only like a working copy (shorter history).
  • Schedule backups to only happen durring certain times, or not to occur when the computer is very busy.
  • Allow for backing up to a local temporary directory when I am away from home and then commit that when I return.
  • Allow to chose a server based on location.  So it would back up to one server when I am at work and another when I am at home.
Again, this is just a list of ideas of features that would be nice to have.  I am sure that there are programs out there that do all of these things, and to that my original backup methods do just that.  I would like to see some of these options to be available for my wife's computer.  So Steve Jobs, I hope this helps.