Time Machine Is NOT Backup

Macs are simple, intuitive, easy to use. The streamlined Mac experience is one of the biggest drivers of the continued increase in enterprise Mac adoption. Much of this intuitive usability comes from hardware and applications built specifically for iOS. Need a mouse? Need a music player? Need a web browser? There’s a Mac-specific product to meet your need—and it’s simple and user-friendly.

But there’s one major exception: backup. As Macs proliferate across enterprise environments, many businesses are tempted to use Apple’s Time Machine and Time Capsule backup products. They’re simple. They’re easy to use. And they’re woefully unprepared to handle your enterprise data protection needs.

You’ll lose half a day’s work—or more

You hit save hundreds of times a day. Why would you back up only once or twice a day? Time Machine typically defaults to a daily or twice-daily backup. That means you’re constantly at risk of losing a half-day’s work, or perhaps even more, depending on when disaster strikes. You can manually change the backup frequency, but Time Machine won’t ever get to the backup frequency of Code42, which is every 15 minutes by default and can be as often as every minute. Moreover, Time Machine’s backups aren’t designed for uninterrupted productivity. They put a major drag on the endpoint device, slowing end-user productivity every time.

You’ll leave IT almost powerless

The first thing IT admins say about Time Machine: There’s no management console! Of course not—it was built for consumers, not enterprise use. This means IT can’t control which files are backed up or how often. They have little visibility to ensure backups are occurring, and can’t see file movement that might indicate insider threat. They can’t execute remote restores or support distributed workforces. In essence, you’re taking away one of the biggest tools in the IT admin toolbox—complete data visibility and control.

Your restores will take forever—and fail often

Mac user forums are filled with horror stories about failed restores with Time Machine. But even when the restore “works,” it can be a nightmare. The biggest problem is that Time Machine simply takes a snapshot of the entire device. That means you can’t restore selected files or do point-in-time restores—your only option, no matter the situation, is to execute a full device restores. Because Time Machine isn’t built for fast recovery (lacking features like data deduplication), these complete restores drag on for hours, while users twiddle their thumbs and productivity goes down the drain.

You’re not ready for a large-scale disaster

Time Machine is basically just local backup—stored on the same device or on an external device (another user’s device, an external drive, a network drive, etc.). This tends to be good enough for most consumer users. But what if disaster strikes an entire business office—whether a flood or fire, or widespread malware or ransomware? What if the external device holding your Time Machine backup is destroyed as well? This is also the problem with using Apple’s Time Capsule to store your Time Machine backups. Time Capsule is essentially an external hard drive—extremely vulnerable to physical damage, loss and failure. A spilled cup of coffee could ruin your Time Capsule backup. It’s not a very good disaster recovery solution if it’s not ready for most disasters.

Best practices to empower your Mac workforce

Nine in 10 businesses now support Mac users, recognizing the many advantages—from security, to specific features, to the benefits of offering end-user choice. But as organizations move to fully enable the potential of Macs in the enterprise, they must be careful to consider the implications on existing protocols for data security, user productivity and more.

Get six simple best practices for empowering your Mac-based workforce. Read our white paper Better Mac Backup: Six Reasons Time Machine is Not a Business Backup Solution.

Better Mac Backup: Six Reasons Time Machine is Not a Business Backup Solution


3 responses to “Time Machine Is NOT Backup

  1. I’m a completely fun of Crash Plan that I have been using since 2012 (or so), but I also have a Mac and use Time Machine. Therefore, I am pretty sure this article contains two mistakes.

    1) Time Machine default backup schedule is one hour, see for instance: https://support.apple.com/library/content/dam/edam/applecare/images/en_US/macos/macos-sierra-time-machine-preferences.png

    2)You can restore selected files. And it’s pretty easy, fast and intuitive. See: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201250

    Having said so, I do agree that a comprehensive back up strategy, even for home users, is a combination of Crash Plan and Time Machine.

  2. You can certainly argue that Time Machine is not as good as Code42. But “Time Machine is not backup” is just a lie. Also, Time Machine defaults to an hourly backup. Daily? What are you talking about? This is misinformation.

    1. Thanks Alex! The article is in reference to Time Machine as enterprise or business backup. Time Machine is lacking in frequency of backup, no admin console, quickness to restore, and It’s not a very good disaster recovery solution. It’s for these reasons that we state that Time Machine is inadequate for an enterprise backup solution.

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