Road to Mac OS X Leopard: Time Machine

Time Machine is one of the most visually prominent new features demonstrated in Mac OS X Leopard, even if the core idea of backups is as old -- or perhaps older -- than the concept of having any data worthy of being restored. Here's a look at what's new and different about Apple's approach with Time Machine, why backups are a problem to be solved, and how well Leopard's new Time Machine actually works in practice.

The Origins of Time Machine

Picking a specific origin of the legacy of Time Machine is more difficult than other new features in Leopard, because it is a combination of old and new technologies. The new Time Machine is a stack of three functional layers:

* The new technology behind visualizing backed up data and restoring files.
* Its standard and ordinary data backup management functions.
* The novel core technologies behind how it squirrels away its archives.

The technologies on the top and bottom of the stack are what is really new and interesting about Time Machine; there's certainly nothing new about performing backups. The problem for most users is that, while they know they should be backing things up, they don't do a very good job of it for a number of reasons. It just so happens that what Apple is adding in Time Machine addresses those reasons, shielding users from the complexity and the tedious backup maintenance that prevents most people from backing up their information properly.