Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

MacOS, APFS, and Time Machine Possibilities

Gene Steinberg:

One thing Time Machine does not do is to allow you to boot from the backup drive. So if your startup drive fails, you would have to restore your data to a new drive before you can get back to work. That’s certainly a severe limitation for the busy person or business. The best solution to that dilemma is to install a dedicated backup app that can create a clone drive; in other words, a mirror of your setup drive. You can use an external drive for the backup, or even a partition, but the latter wouldn’t be a good move. If a drive fails, you’d lose both backups.


Now the existing version of Time Machine was designed with the current file system, HFS+, in mind, recognizing its limitations. With APFS, Apple builds a new version of Time Machine. Does APFS make it possible to boot from a Time Machine volume?

One of the possibilities listed this year in WWDC Bingo is a Time Machine in the Cloud feature. There are plenty of offsite backup companies, but having a la carte restoration of files — from anywhere in the world — integrated with Time Machine would be a dream.

However, there are still times when a local backup is ideal — say, if you don’t have internet access, or your internet connection is slow, or if you’d prefer full encryption that you control. I would love to see enhancements to Time Machine this year that fully take advantage of APFS, if it’s ready to ship in MacOS Malibu, or Monterey, or whatever it is that they’re calling it this year.