Apple Time Machine on an external SSD

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1,974
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Gil
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#1
Hi folks, thought I'd ask some help with regards Apple Time Machine on an external SSD. I've discovered that that Time Machine is a 'low priority' process which means it's slow - particularly if you are in the habit of changing a lot of data - or if you are doing your Backup for the first time - it's estimating 5 hours for 225GB which is frightfully slow.

The whole point of getting the SSD was to speed up the backup process and I'm wondering if anybody uses a third party application to permanently speed up the Time Machine backup process by adjusting its priority? I have a MacBook Pro and understand that it will mean that the fans will probably come on if I change the priority, but it would mean the whole backup process can be fast rather than a slow. :)
 
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Dougie
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#2
Time machine will do a full backup first and the speed you quote is normal for an external ssd (unless thunderbolt 3).

Once this backup is complete, it only backs up your changes meaning you can basically go back to any point in time.

You can also fully restore your mac from a time machine backup.

I would stick with it if I were you.

Dougie.
 
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#3
Why are you worried about the speed of backup? Like @Snapper67 says the initial backup takes time then it’s incremental from then on. To be honest I wouldn’t be trusting backup just to time machine as I would have more than one backup copy. If it’s a MacBook Pro I would be thinking of some kind of wireless storage device as how often are you really going to attach the external SSD?
 
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gilbouk
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Gil
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#4
Time machine will do a full backup first and the speed you quote is normal for an external ssd (unless thunderbolt 3).

Once this backup is complete, it only backs up your changes meaning you can basically go back to any point in time.

You can also fully restore your mac from a time machine backup.

I would stick with it if I were you.

Dougie.
I have manually copied the files of importance straight to the SSD and it took about 20 minutes which was more like it. Upon reading further It appears as though Time Machine is throttled to operate as a background task, and as a result takes a lot longer than what's physically possible at maximum speed. I would have been better off just using a standard HDD for the purpose of backing up.

I've read an option which temporarily will speed up the Time Machine by adjusting CPU priority temporarily.
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-adjust-cpu-priority-using-apples-terminal/

Ideally I'm looking for a super fast backup option. So looking for recommendations on either a programme that selectively speeds up just Time Machine permanently or a backup programme that operates taking advantage of the capabilities of the SSD.

I'm all for speed, and network storage is slow, particularly as I've only got access to Wifi for short periods of time.
 
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Tony
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#5
I have time machine running in the background and to be honest I don't even notice it (backing up to a network drive).

The first backup is slow, but if you are there for only shot periods of time the incremental backups are small and quick. It has saved my neck a few times where I have accidentally overwritten a file!!
 
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#6
Time machine works in the background making incremental backups it goes. It keeps several versions at hour-day-week intervals for you to look back into or restart from.

If it’s a Mac and you are looking at automatic backup software then carbon copy cloner would be my choice for backup tasks. I still don’t get the need for backups to be fast. Backups aren’t working copies so personally don’t see the need for speed. As long as they are done does it matter how fast they take? Its much more important to have several copies than overall speed. If you are using backup software I would use a cleaner drive and let the software do it’s job. Copying some across then starting backing up via software just complicates the issue.

Ive explained my backup system on my website:

https://spark.adobe.com/page/Os6kX8G8QcZoA/
 
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John
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#7
Don't forget Time Machine copies everything, not just your user files. Have a look at what a time machine backup includes and you'll see its very comprehensive. You also have backups going back months or sometimes years ( if the HDD is big enough). That means if you deleted something months ago, and Time Machine goes back that far you can recover it. a very useful feature. And yes the initial backup does take time, but you only do it once, subsequent backups are done in the background so you don't notice. One final point, If you move to a new mac, you can use Time Machine to repopulate the new machine, from your backups. Saves time re-downloading apps and configuring them. May not seem that useful, but I'm on my fourth Mac and it saves a lot of time ( and frustration)
 
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gilbouk
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Gil
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#8
Time machine works in the background making incremental backups it goes. It keeps several versions at hour-day-week intervals for you to look back into or restart from.

If it’s a Mac and you are looking at automatic backup software then carbon copy cloner would be my choice for backup tasks. I still don’t get the need for backups to be fast. Backups aren’t working copies so personally don’t see the need for speed. As long as they are done does it matter how fast they take? Its much more important to have several copies than overall speed. If you are using backup software I would use a cleaner drive and let the software do it’s job. Copying some across then starting backing up via software just complicates the issue.

Ive explained my backup system on my website:

https://spark.adobe.com/page/Os6kX8G8QcZoA/
Many thanks @rob-nikon - CCC seems to be doing exactly what I want!! Backups only take a few moments and it keeps deleted files. Initial backup was very fast too.

I do have other means to backup my 'finished' files - however I wanted to keep any work I'm doing on my MacBook backed up easily should anything happen to it while out and about. It means if I'm almost finished work on a wedding for example, loss of my laptop / accidental deletion will mean I don't have to start from scratch again with the RAWs. Previously I was only backing up before starting work on the RAWs which isn't much good when I could spend over a week on them with no way to recover my work if anything went wrong.
 
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Rob
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#9
Many thanks @rob-nikon - CCC seems to be doing exactly what I want!! Backups only take a few moments and it keeps deleted files. Initial backup was very fast too.

I do have other means to backup my 'finished' files - however I wanted to keep any work I'm doing on my MacBook backed up easily should anything happen to it while out and about. It means if I'm almost finished work on a wedding for example, loss of my laptop / accidental deletion will mean I don't have to start from scratch again with the RAWs. Previously I was only backing up before starting work on the RAWs which isn't much good when I could spend over a week on them with no way to recover my work if anything went wrong.
It sounds like a high capacity portable usb drive would be a perfect for just backing up working copies whilst on the move. It would have the added benefit of not being stored with the laptop too. It’s not exactly a backup if its stored with the laptop (think if you laptop is stolen and if the backup could be stolen too).

My system back ups my RAW’s and the Lightroom catalogue onto the same back up drives so all of my photography is backed up to the onsite and offsite drives. I just had to be careful how it was set up as it was initially over writing the backups each time the different RAW and catalogue backup tasks ran. Time machine now just backs up the iMac hard drive as all my photography is stored on external drives now. I do all my editing on a iMac so its easier to keep everything connected (though I do have to turn on all the external drives but they automatically run on connection so that makes things easier). I used to run a timed backup when I used to store all my photography on the imac’s internal hard drive but I go very close to filling the internal hard drive so I had to move to external drives. That backup used to turn on the computer to run the backup in the middle of the night. I would wake up to an email to say if it was successful or not. I had to change the backup method after I moved to powered external hard drives because they needed to be on all the time to do it that way.

I’m currently waiting for a larger capacity hard drive to arrive as I’ve completed filled my 1TB offsite back up drives (I have one 1TB and one 2TB back up drives that are swapped over about every month). It will be interesting to see how long it takes the new drive to backup the whole 1TB of data. I think it could be quite a few hours!

CCC is a great tool, I love have you have the options to set up the back ups to suit you rather than having a generic back up solution. It’s a great tool to spend a few hours to initial set up your backups. After that it works a dream and saves so much time.
 
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Jonathan
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#10
Time machine works in the background making incremental backups it goes. It keeps several versions at hour-day-week intervals for you to look back into or restart from.

If it’s a Mac and you are looking at automatic backup software then carbon copy cloner would be my choice for backup tasks. I still don’t get the need for backups to be fast. Backups aren’t working copies so personally don’t see the need for speed. As long as they are done does it matter how fast they take? Its much more important to have several copies than overall speed. If you are using backup software I would use a cleaner drive and let the software do it’s job. Copying some across then starting backing up via software just complicates the issue.

Ive explained my backup system on my website:

https://spark.adobe.com/page/Os6kX8G8QcZoA/
Nice explanation :)

I have CCC but personally prefer Chronosync for backing stuff up - CCC I find better for whole drive imaging. I shoot tethered to a Macbook quite a bit and always set up a Chronosync job at the start of the day. When I get 5 - 10 mins downtime I just run it to stick the raws on a USB drive.

I bet if you've bought either you'll be really happy with it but if you didn't pay for CCC yet then give Chronosync a go. One thing I like is that I bought it (probably 10) years ago. All upgrades are free forever.
 
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gilbouk
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1,974
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Gil
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#11
Nice explanation :)

I have CCC but personally prefer Chronosync for backing stuff up - CCC I find better for whole drive imaging. I shoot tethered to a Macbook quite a bit and always set up a Chronosync job at the start of the day. When I get 5 - 10 mins downtime I just run it to stick the raws on a USB drive.

I bet if you've bought either you'll be really happy with it but if you didn't pay for CCC yet then give Chronosync a go. One thing I like is that I bought it (probably 10) years ago. All upgrades are free forever.
I'll take a look. One thing I like about CCC is you just plug in the drive and it does the job and tells you when done. No clicking or messing about. Not sure if Chronosync is as streamlined, but will take a look. If it does the same job, then price will be the deciding factor between the two :)
 
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gilbouk
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Gil
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#12
It sounds like a high capacity portable usb drive would be a perfect for just backing up working copies whilst on the move. It would have the added benefit of not being stored with the laptop too. It’s not exactly a backup if its stored with the laptop (think if you laptop is stolen and if the backup could be stolen too).

My system back ups my RAW’s and the Lightroom catalogue onto the same back up drives so all of my photography is backed up to the onsite and offsite drives. I just had to be careful how it was set up as it was initially over writing the backups each time the different RAW and catalogue backup tasks ran. Time machine now just backs up the iMac hard drive as all my photography is stored on external drives now. I do all my editing on a iMac so its easier to keep everything connected (though I do have to turn on all the external drives but they automatically run on connection so that makes things easier). I used to run a timed backup when I used to store all my photography on the imac’s internal hard drive but I go very close to filling the internal hard drive so I had to move to external drives. That backup used to turn on the computer to run the backup in the middle of the night. I would wake up to an email to say if it was successful or not. I had to change the backup method after I moved to powered external hard drives because they needed to be on all the time to do it that way.

I’m currently waiting for a larger capacity hard drive to arrive as I’ve completed filled my 1TB offsite back up drives (I have one 1TB and one 2TB back up drives that are swapped over about every month). It will be interesting to see how long it takes the new drive to backup the whole 1TB of data. I think it could be quite a few hours!

CCC is a great tool, I love have you have the options to set up the back ups to suit you rather than having a generic back up solution. It’s a great tool to spend a few hours to initial set up your backups. After that it works a dream and saves so much time.
I've been living with 2 x 1TB drives (1 x Synology DS-J111 with 1TB Red, and a 1TB WD Passport) for files I don't use anymore but want to keep a copy of for clients. I've 2 copies of these files, and just add to both archives when my work is done. In future I'll look at a new 2-Bay NAS. I've also got the most important files backed up a 3rd time in jpg form on the cloud. My 500GB SSD will do fine for now - and I'll just use it at home briefly each morning when I'm working - to keep a copy of my progress each day. I won't carry it about with me as I like to work away.

I'd love a more up-to-date 2 bay Synololgy in the future with more storage, but for now a new wide-angle lens / zoom is higher on my priority list :)
 
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Nightmare
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#13
You may struggle with SSD capacity for TM. I had a regular 6TB drive and that pretty much filled up within a year. As I'm moving to another mac it will just get wiped and I will start again now, and after a while yet again. I have only about 3TB of files so something must be quite inefficient there. It either backs up all the temporary junk from somewhere or it can't understand when folders are renamed causing the whole thing to be duplicated again and again. And that 6TB thing is noisy as hell.
 
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Tony
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#14
You may struggle with SSD capacity for TM. I had a regular 6TB drive and that pretty much filled up within a year. As I'm moving to another mac it will just get wiped and I will start again now, and after a while yet again. I have only about 3TB of files so something must be quite inefficient there. It either backs up all the temporary junk from somewhere or it can't understand when folders are renamed causing the whole thing to be duplicated again and again. And that 6TB thing is noisy as hell.
From my understanding it is not just the 3tb you have on disc but add in every file and folder you have trashed over the last year, that is all backed up as well. You can set a limit of backup size and it deletes the oldest stuff, it all depends on how many files move through your system as to how long a specific size fills up.

I have 1tb allocated to time machine and it gives me approx 2 months of complete backups. But most of my files and folders are on a NAS so it is only system and apps that I want backed up incase I have a problem and need to move to a new machine or reload onto my machine again.
 
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Paul
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#15
I use a utility called Time Machine Editor, its great as you can set the times when your Mac gets backed up, mine is just once a day as I tend to keep a tidy filing system and I always empty the trash the day after.
 
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