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Multiple machine backups with Time Machine

Of course Time Machine is the backup-making feature introduced with Mac OS X 10.5. Time Machine works in the background creating backup copies on an external hard disk of the files that have been modified.

With Time Machine, you can use a single disk to create backups for multiple computers in any of the following ways. Before doing so, make sure you have enough free disk space: add the amount of space used by each of your computers and multiply the sum by 1.2 to find out what the minimum amount of space is required.

First method: Red Caracol

One way to do this is to simply connect the drive to a Mac, let Time Machine run, and then disconnect the drive to connect it to the next Mac. Time Machine saves backups for each computer in separate folders, so that no you will have to worry that the backup corresponding to another computer will be overwritten.

Before disconnecting the drive, click the eject icon next to the drive name in the Finder sidebar. You don’t need to unplug Time Machine as it will wait patiently for the hard drive to be plugged in to work again.

Moving a hard drive from one computer to another has the advantage of speed: backups will be faster than they would be if they were made over a local network. However, it goes without saying that each of the computers will only be able to create backups when the hard disk is connected.

Second method: Network backups

The other option is to leave the disk connected to one of your Macs, share it using the File Sharing option, and connect it to the local network (whether it is an Ethernet or AirPort wireless network) to which the rest of the devices are also connected. computers.

Again, Time Machine is smart enough to keep separate backups for each of the computers, even if they are being made on the same disk. But if you are using Time Machine to create backup copies of multiple computers over a network, then you will need to keep a few things in mind.

For starters, backups are generally much slower than when a disk is directly connected to the USB or FireWire ports. Similarly, backups over AirPort networks are slower than backups over Ethernet, and older AirPort protocols (such as 802.11b and 802.11g) are slower than 802.11n, which corresponds to the standard. latest for AirPort Extreme stations and AirPort cards.

Similarly, when your computers are busy backing up or restoring files over the network, then other network activities (such as downloading files or streaming video) will significantly slow down. Finally, network backups require that the computer sharing the disk be turned on and awake. If the computer shuts down or goes to sleep, then Time Machine will wait to continue backups after the computer is visible on the local network again.

Third method: Time Capsule

The easiest way to back up multiple Macs (although perhaps not the cheapest) is to buy a Time Capsule base station recently announced by Apple as a network backup device.

Time Capsule combines the features of an AirPort Extreme base station and a 500GB or 1TB hard drive that is preconfigured for use with Time Machine. After connecting the device and configuring the network settings (just as you would with any AirPort base station), simply select Time Capsule as the destination for Time Machine backups on each of the computers on the local network in your home or office.

Although Time Capsule supports the 802.1n protocol, you will get the most benefit from the high-speed wireless connection only if your Macs also use the 802.11n connection, and even then you must remember that wireless backups will be less fast compared to the same. made over an Ethernet connection.