Category Archives: Apple

Apple Time Machine

Do you use an Apple Mac? If you do then Time Machine is a great way of backing up your files from your machine to an external drive on a frequent basis.

So some quick tips about Time Machine:

  • Dedicate at least one external hard drive to Time Machine, don’t be tempted to use it for other files as well. It reduces the capacity. If you need an external drive for other files buy another drive.
  • Leave the drive connected all the time. If you are using a Macbook (Laptop) then an external drive that connects to your network or your router (Western Digital MyCloud) is a good alternative to one hard-wired to your machine.
  • Buy a large drive, the bigger the drive the longer Time Machine can keep backups for before it starts deleting old back ups.
  • If you buy a larger drive at a later date, it is possible to transfer your previous backups to the newdrive, see this article for details. I’ve done this a few times and it’s fairly involved but follow the steps shown and you should retain all your previous backups.

Time Machine keeps:

  • Hourly backups for the past 24 hours
  • Daily backups for the past month
  • Weekly backups for all previous months

The oldest backups are deleted when your drive becomes full.

How useful is Time Machine?

  • If your Mac has a hard drive failure and you have to replace the internal drive, when you turn the machine back on having installed OSX then the machine will offer the opportunity to restore the machine from the most recent Time Machine back up.
    • This back up will restore all your data, settings, passwords, desktop files, photos, music, in summary everything.
    • Occasionally you will find you will have to put in product codes to activate software.
  • The restore process can take a few hours, I ran mine over night the couple of times I’ve had to do this.
  • You can restore individual files, say you had a file on your desktop some weeks ago. Then you can enter Time Machine and track back and find the file again by literally going back in time. You can then restore that file. If a later version exists then you can opt to replace or keep both versions of the file, which is useful with changing files.
  • You can split your Time Machine back ups across more than one drive, Time Machine then just uses each drive in turn. This helps to increase the overall security of your back ups in the case of an external drive failure.
  • Running Time Machine will not slow down your machine, it all happens comfortably in the background and you will hardly notice it happening.

Problems with Time Machine?

Occasionally you might get an error message that says that Time Machine hasn’t been able to verify the latest back up. There seems to be very little you can do about this about from starting the process off again. Time Machine will start a new back up and delete the old one. This is a good reason for using more than one external drive for Time Machine back ups.

In my case I use a locally connected USB external drive as one Time Machine drive and a network connected MyCloud drive as the other one.

On rebooting the external drive will not always be picked up. Let me explain.

The external Time Machine drive icon is normally shown on your desktop on your Mac and it will look like this:

A normal non-Time Machine drive will look like this:

 

On start up or rebooting if your Time Machine drive looks likes the ‘Yellow/Orange’ drive above it might be functioning ok as your Time Machine back up drive, but just to be certain there are a few simple things you can try to ensure it turns to ‘Green’

  1. Starting with the simple test. Hover your cursor over the Finder icon on the dock (normally at the left) press the ‘Alt’ key on the keyboard then ‘Right Click’ the mouse and then left click on ‘Relaunch’ Finder will relaunch and then check to see if your drive icon has changed to ‘Green’

If it hasn’t then go to the next step.

2. Go in to System Preferences, Time Machine. Click on Add or Remove Back Up Disk and then click on your external drive again, then ‘Use Disk’

You can then close System Preferences. If the Time Machine Icon hasn’t turned ‘Green’ try relaunching Finder again using the Alt, Right Click, Relaunch routine again. It should then turn ‘Green’ and all should be working as it should.

As reboots of Macs is normally fairly infrequent, you will not be doing this that often.

Every so often you can check in Time Machine System Preferences, this is will show the latest and oldest back up dates, how much drive space you have.

If you disconnect your Time Machine drive from your computer, Time Machine will politely remind you that you haven’t backed up for n weeks with an on-screen message after about 10 days. Hence why it is always best to keep the drive connected when ever possible.

Finally.

This has been a lightning tour of what Time Machine can offer, but it really is a useful feature built-in to OSX that you should be using. External drives are not expensive these days. So get one and get using Time Machine… And remove the drive to a safe place if you are going away for any length of time.

Turn your iPad in to a second display for your Mac or Windows machine

I’m used to using my large 27 inch iMac at home, I rarely use applications full screen though, you start to suffer from moving your head from left to right, like you are watching a tennis match on Centre Court!! So I tend to divide the screen between two apps at a time. Mail and Skype, or Safari and Twitter etc.

Quite often I will drag a tab out of Safari and sit it next to the other Safari window, so I have the two side by side. I can see both that way. I can place the mouse cursor in one Safari window, whilst the flashing on-screen cursor is in the other and happily copy links from one window with the mouse and paste them in the other with a key stroke without having to change the active window, it just works brilliantly for that simple function.

I’m writing this post whilst away from home on my Macbook Pro, the same resolution screen as I have at home, but smaller screen size. Resizing windows to fit two side by side isn’t so practical on a 13 inch screen, but with a simple app I have gained a second display using my iPad.

My iPad isn’t particularly new, it’s the 3rd generation one, but with the Duet App loaded it functions as a second display when connected via the USB cable to the Macbook Pro.

IMG_1934

 

The app lets you configure the screen resolution to use on the iPad separately to your main display, which side of your main display the iPad is stood on and a few other features.

Even on my old iPad there is no detectable lag or delay in the cursor movement, the second display acts just like it is the main display. If you press the home key on the iPad to come out of the app, any windows or apps you had placed on the iPad screen are moved back on to the main screen without having to close them or reopen them.

It apparently works with Windows machines as well, although I’ve not been able to test it with one as I don’t have any Windows machines these days.

So if you have a spare iPad you aren’t sure what to do with it… turn it in to a second display for your laptop or even your Mac or PC at home.

How to kill your home Internet Connection with Apple iCloud Photo.

I love most things Apple, I take a bit of convincing some times. However, I recently saw the benefit of iCloud Photos, the ability to have all your photos in the cloud and on smaller capacity devices it will only download on demand the photos you want to view etc.

Upload all your photos from a weekend trip whilst you are away and they will be on your main machine when you get back etc. It holds a lot of advantages….

Sadly there is a downside to this.. I’ve been using digital photography for over 10 years, my photo library is over 25,000 photos about 90Gb in total. I didn’t think this would be a big problem. We use CrashPlan on all our machines, my iMac has uploaded over 400 Gb, yes it took several weeks, but it got there in the end.

iCloud Photo though isn’t quite as clever as other Cloud storage applications, it just grabs all the bandwidth available and tries to use it all ignoring the fact you might want to look at a website or down an email or two. The only control you have over it is to pause it. Even closing the application doesn’t stop it unless you have paused it. So you end up pausing it during the day and then having to remembering to resume the upload last thing in the day.

PhotosPerferences copy

Crashplan

By comparison CrashPlan as you can see has a much smarter approach to controlling how much bandwidth it uses when you are using the machine or you are away from the machine.

Crashplan copy

 

I’m not the only one complaining about this, I’ve come across several other blog posts on the topic in the past few weeks. Short of taking my iMac to somewhere that has super high speed fibre internet to upload all the remaining photos, I shall just have to continue to upload a couple of hundred photos each day, pathetic really.

 

[2017 Update: Apple seem to have tamed iCloud uploads so that they are a bit more slow connection friendly. They no longer kill your connection. It backs off until the connection is available.]