Time Machine Saves the Day

So I have always owned Mac computers. I got my first computer in high school and went with a Performa, probably because my elementary school taught on a Mac OS. (Apparently Voluntown was cool before the rest of us knew what cool was.) I next got the original iBook (aka clamshell) in college, and followed it up with a 2003 version of the same model. When offered a laptop in graduate school, I jumped on the chance to upgrade to a MacBook Pro two years ago, and have never regretted the decision for a moment, despite having to use a PC for certain statistical programs (i.e. S+, EVA2) and those inevitable glitches when creating a PowerPoint document on my Mac and presenting it on a PC. (I never figured out how to use Parallels, which is a decision I may yet regret; and now I use Keynote and convert to .pdf to circumvent the latter problem.) I have always found the OS on a Mac to be effective, graceful, aesthetically pleasing, and most importantly (for me, at least) extremely intuitive. Windows to me is clunky, confusing, boring, and unnatural. It’s a no-brainer where to keep my allegiance.

This was reinforced this week as I dealt with a seemingly-corrupt user file in Firefox that prevented the browser from recovering the cache of bookmarks, settings, passwords, etc. I had amassed in the past ~2 years. A couple web searches provided about 47 solutions to my problem, none of which fully restored my Bookmarks Toolbar, which I rely on for roughly 75% of my web use. I had a .html file of these bookmarks, but it wouldn’t upload. I uninstalled/reinstalled Firefox. I deleted and replaced bookmark files and their backups. I nearly fried my brain and wasted a perfectly peaceful day of watching the snow fall. Finally, I pulled out the big guns.

Brian: Do you use Time Machine, or, how do you backup?
me: yes
Brian: When was the last time FF worked right?
me: last night
Brian: OK, when was the last time TM ran?
me: yesterday morning
Brian: here’s the strategy: Quit FF. Open time machine for this folder: /Users/yourname/Library/Application Support/Firefox and replace the current version with the last-assumed-good version. Launch FF and see if it works.

Time Machine. That thing terrifies me. It’s like an alternate universe. I have only ever clicked on it accidentally, gone “eek!” and gotten out. I feel like I’m being teleported to a place where I can easily replace my 5000+ song iTunes library (a seriously prized possession) with the feeble 200 song version circa 1999 with a single Mightly Mouse click. No way. I stay outta there.

But I needed my toolbar back. There is no better way for me to get to GMail, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, back to Facebook, Yahoo! Mail, back to Twitter, craigslist, back to GMail, etc., etc. throughout the day. I would seek proper guidance, and go in there as soon as I had access to my backup volume. So this morning I sought out Brian on gchat again, looking for instructions.

Brian: have you ever used time machine?
me: um, i’ve been in there, but i don’t know if i’ve ever recovered anything
it’s scary in there
Brian: I think you just click on the old folder and it’ll slide out of TM and ask if you want to replace your old folder with the new one.
me: ooooh
Brian: I was just in there for the first time last week.
it’s kinda fun.
me: that is NOT scary
that’s amazing
so wait, if it does that do i not need to delete the current folder first?
Brian: no, it’ll over write. It’ll say the thing you get when you try to move a folder to someplace something with the same name already resides. “Are you sure you want to replace the newer folder with the older folder you’re moving?” -type dialog
me: ok
i should probably quit Firefox first
Brian: absolutely
me: all right wish me luck

And in I went. I navigated to the appropriate folder from the appropriate date and time of backup, and clicked on ‘Restore.’ Sure enough, it asked for a confirmation and I clicked ‘Replace.’ I was out in approximately seven seconds. Opened Firefox, and she looked just as I’d left her before the problem occurred. Seriously? It was so easy a caveman could have done it. Had I not been away from my backup volume and wasted half a day trying to fix the problem sans Time Machine, I could have fixed it in the time it took me to get the advice from my tech guru, plus ten seconds. And now that I have been advised, I figure future problems of this nature will be taken care of in roughly five seconds. And I’ll get to see the stars while I’m at it.

Time Machine is not a shiny, glamorous program I showcase on my dock and babble about to friends, but it is clearly another example of a creative, simple, intuitive, and innovative approach to everyday computing from Apple. Corrupted files and crashes are not often thought about or predicted. But now I know that they do happen, and can rest assured that my elegant, pretty, smart computer knows just how to handle them.

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This is an article that was posted on Jan 2, 03:35 PM.

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Comment [2]

  1. Jake Jan 2, 11:35 PM

    Glad to hear it all worked out. :-)

    But I’m saddened cavemen will never read your site again.

  2. Rockhound Rach Jan 8, 06:08 PM

    Don’t worry I think cavemen can still visit your website via my machine. Ummm, am I living in the MAC ice ages?? I don’t have Firefox or Time Machine. Should I be worried?

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