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It's an old saw in the computer business that it's not a question of if your hard drive will die, but rather when, and it's true. The hard drive in your Mac will eventually fail, though we hope not right away. The one way you can protect your data is to back it up, and the easiest way to do that is via Mountain Lion's Time Machine, and here's how it works. I'm going to attach a hard drive to my Mac and this is going to be a FireWire hard drive but you could also use a USB hard drive. Now, when I do that, Time Machine pops up a little message telling me that there's a hard drive attached and I can choose to use it as a backup disk, and indeed, I want to do that, so I click on Use as Backup Disk.
That will then open the Time Machine preference. I'm going to rename this hard drive because External Hard Drive doesn't tell me much. Instead, I'm going to call it Backup. It will then tell me that it's going to back up in 99, 94, 93 seconds or so. Now, at this point, if I wanted to, if there were another hard drive attached, I could Select Disk and I could choose a different disk to use, but I want to use this one, so I'll click on Cancel. Now you could be done right now but we can configure it a little bit. With Time Machine, you tell it what you don't want it to backup.
Otherwise, it backs up everything on your drive. So let's go to Options, and here we have the option to exclude certain items from backup. So I'm going to click on the + button, and here I am navigating to the root level of my hard drive. Now I can always install another copy of Mac OS X, so I'm going to exclude the System folder. When I do that, I'm offered the option to exclude only the System folder or I can exclude other system files. These would be things like files within the Library folder that's at the root level of your hard drive.
So I'll exclude those. So there are going to be some case where you don't want to exclude anything. For example, if you'd like to restore your hard drive exactly as it was when you last backed it up, don't exclude everything and it will restore that way. However, if instead you intend to reinstall the Mac OS, you can go ahead and exclude things like System, reinstall Mac OS, and then restore the other data that was on the hard drive. Now, I'll click on Save. My next backup starts, and then I'll close this window. Here's our Time Machine backup on the desktop and you can identify it as such because it has the Time Machine icon on it and it's kind of this greenish color.
Backup is only as good as its ability to restore your backed up files, so let's find some backed up files. So let's look at that restore process. The way I'm going to do that is I'm going to go to my Documents folder. I'll see that there is one file in there currently, but there used to be other files in there. Since then, I've thrown them away. Let's get them back. So I go to Time Machine and click on the icon in the dock. Here is the current state of my Mac, but I can go back in time in a couple of different ways. I can use the arrow to go back in time, and look, here is the file that I threw away.
Now, if I want to restore the state of the Documents folder as you see it now, all I have to do is click on Restore and it will be brought back. I'll do that in just a second. In the meantime, let's go back to the current state and you can do that by clicking on this Now button here at the right side. Now, let me show you other ways to go back in time. One is to simply click on the title bars of the windows. As I do that, you could see I'm going back in time. Let's take it back again to the current state. You can also use these icons along the right.
So you can go back to as far as possible by selecting the last one that enlarges as you pass your cursor over it, and there's the initial state. So again, if I want to restore, I simply click on Restore, or I can cancel the whole thing by clicking on Cancel. I do want to restore that so I click on Restore. And, as if by magic, here is my Gatekeeper by Breen file.
And that's exactly how Time Machine works. So again, if you want to go back in time, go to whatever folder you want to restore to, click on the Time Machine icon, up comes the Time Machine interface, go back in time until you find the state that you wish to restore, and click on Restore, and you're done. Now if you need to restore your entire Mac, you do that by restarting your Mac with the Option key held down and I'll show you how to do that.
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