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The three ways Time Machine can improve in the future

Lately I have noticed a fact: removing the aesthetic changes according to those of the general system interface, Time Machine has not experienced any major improvements since its release in OS X Leopard . While everything is moving to the mobile and cloud, we’re still backing up as we did seven years ago.

There are several reasons for this, but the most important one is the one that has come to your mind: Mac backups can be very large and therefore it is still very uncomfortable to take them to the cloud. But… is this still valid at the end of 2014 , with mobile devices demanding more and more data?

The three ways Time Machine can improve in the future
The three ways Time Machine can improve in the future

There is always a transition stage between modes: it depends on whether the user can use them or not

It all depends on the resources each user has . Let’s take the case of iOS terminals for example: they can continue to back up to iTunes connected to the Mac, or they can use iCloud. Those with fast internet connections will do so, and those who manage the device in such a way that they have plenty of space with the free 5 GB that iCloud provides. Or those who pay to expand storage, of course.

It’s obvious that Time Machine can begin to follow that same path. Not everyone will accept it, but we’re getting to have connections of up to 500 MBs at home. iCloud users, moreover, can have up to 1 TB in the cloud . My Time Machine disk, which takes care of securing the data on my three Macs, only has half that space. It is clear that now the access to the data saved on the network is much faster.

Given this approach, I see three possible paths that Time Machine can (and should) follow right now.


Yeah, you read that right. A future in which Time Machine as such dies is possible, always giving way to a new backup system with which Apple can do business. Right now that is done with the Airport Time Capsule (which I don’t predict a near end, of course), but who knows if some extra options in the cloud may lead to a new Apple platform exclusively dedicated to backups.

It’s the most radical option, but it wouldn’t be the first time Apple has surprised in this way. It would be a shame, since I love the concept of time machine for our backups.

Get more features and simplify at the same time

Time Machine is often too complicated for the novice user. It is one of the main questions of the students in my classes: how to configure the disk, how the copies work, how to exclude files, what to do when the hard disk gets full…

That’s why backups on Apple have a lot of room for to become more user-friendly . we could, for example, point out if we want copies only of certain applications, or set a default configuration of system preferences… go from saving the data raw to offering a more simplified view of what is copied to the user.

Embracing the iCloud cloud

Robbie Shade y Mark Freeth

And in fact, it can be combined with the second one. As I said before, having 500 GB or 1 TB in the iCloud cloud is already relatively cheap, and I don’t see any reason why we can’t take advantage of that space to save our Mac backups.

I’ve seen iPhones backed up to over 100GB, mostly by reels of tens of thousands of images. But think about this:

  • We will soon be storing our entire photo libraries in iCloud.
  • Our most basic files can already be in Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud Drive or similar.
  • Storing music? Many of us already use Spotify. And if you buy songs on iTunes, they can be deleted and downloaded as much as you like. We can do the same for movies.
  • Applications can always be re-downloaded, and their settings are synchronized in the cloud across all our devices.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Cupertino needs to catch up on Mac backups

What’s left to store? Not much, really. Basic documents, configurations, profiles, security… in conclusion, it is not only that everything can be saved in the cloud: it is that in addition we need less and less space in it because there are already many services that save everything.

We’ll never know for sure what they are, but I’m sure Apple is already considering the future of Time Machine. What is absolutely true is that we are still using backups that have changed little since 2007, and that there is more and more evidence that Cupertino needs to be updated .

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