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Digital Home Leopard coverage: Time Machine

Don Reisinger continues his Leopard coverage with his thoughts on Time Machine.

Last night, I finally got around to hooking up my external hard drive and started using Time Machine. And while I had hoped for a bit more options, it's one of the nicest additions to Leopard.

By default, Time Machine is set to off. But as soon as you hook up an external hard drive and flip the Time Machine switch on in the new System Preferences pane, the system will start backing up your hard drive in twenty minutes after you first set it up.

Now, it should be noted that Time Machine always runs in the background, but believe it or not, there is no slow down because of it. All in all, it seems like a lightweight applications that yearns for an external hard drive.

In case you're wondering, Time Machine does not work with a NAS, and won't be able to backup your computer to an external hard drive set up with your Airport Extreme Base Station. Because of this, I was forced to hook my external hard drive up to the USB port on my iMac and let it go.

Within twenty minutes of the time I set it up, Time Machine started its backup. And although it only had to backup about 30GB, I was quite surprised by how quickly it did just that.

Allow me to say that when you click the Time Machine icon on the Dock, you're brought to one of the most beautiful interfaces you have ever seen on an operating system. Once there, you're given a view of the computer at this instant and can work your way through the hourly backups by clicking the arrow to the right of the view, or by clicking each of the windows to get a specific time. If that's not good enough for you, you can also use the time tracker to your right, which allows you to choose the specific backup time and go right to it.

Simply put, this interface is perfect and I honestly don't know how Apple could actually improve on it.

My only issue with Time Machine is the utter lack of options. I understand Apple was going with a "fire and forget" mentality with this program, but I still would have liked to force the system to ignore some files and folders from backing up [correction: some files and folders can be ignored, but it would have been nice if it had a wildcard ignore option.]. That said, Apple wasn't going for that kind of customization and if you're not either, then don't worry about.

Overall Time Machine grade: 9.5/10

Up next: Finder