About a week ago I received a call from a close friend of mine who was experiencing some sluggish computer behavior coupled with beautiful ticking and grinding sounds from her iBook G4; classic hard drive failure. After weighing her options she decided to take me up on the offer to replace her hard drive and she headed up to visit me for the weekend. Being the intelligent woman she is, she also brought her Time Capsule with her latest successful backup on it.

Sure enough, by the time I took out her drive and attached it to an external sled, it gurgled and gasped in an attempt to mount and finally showed as an uninitialized volume. No worries, she brought her Time Capsule so I could seemingly just migrate the data back on to the new drive, right? Well, I was missing a vital tool to allow me to do that; I was lacking a Leopard disc. It figures that my Leopard disc had finally become too scratched to continue using just a few days before.

Time Capsule is designed to restore all data in three ways. One can use the Apple Migration Assistant from the Utilities folder of a machine that’s already set up, it can migrate data directly to a blank internal drive from the Leopard media or it can migrate to a drive with a fresh OS on it using the Setup Assistant. In front of me I had my Macbook Pro, her iBook with a blank internal drive and her Time Capsule; this did not fit any of the ideal restore options. I quickly double-checked that it was impossible for me to use the Migration Assistant on my MacBook Pro to restore the data to her iBook and sure enough I was correct about that. The Migration Assistant will only transfer the data to my own internal hard drive, bummer!

Exercising my well-honed Google-Fu, I found an application called Back In Time by Tri-Edre. Back In Time is one of the many new third-party Time Machine “helper-apps” that have sprung up in an attempt to fill in some features that many of us wish were included in Time Machine. Some of its features include the ability to view Time Machine data from another user’s machine, quick looks of files (including letting you know how many versions of that file are available), drag and drop capabilities and, most importantly for me, full restores of the Time Machine to any attached volume. Eureka! This sounds like the answer to my problem!

After attaching my friend’s Time Capsule to my machine via ethernet I was able to mount her Time Machine sparseimage. (As a sidenote, for anyone with security concerns about Time Machine it’s important to note that the data is an encrypted sparseimage so for me to mount my friend’s Time Machine backup I did need her username and password.) I was able to then set Back In Time to restore her latest Time Machine backup to her iBook hard drive which I had mounted on my machine via Target Disk Mode. I let that run all night and in the morning Back in Time reported that all of the data transfered with no errors. Great!

Upon rebooting her iBook, I found that the machine would not load the kernel. Crap. I reboot her machine in Target Disk Mode again and this time I ran Disk Warrior on the drive to repair any software corruption that might be present and then I ran a permissions repair in Apple’s Disk Utility (located within the Utilities folder). The permissions repair was epic and I ran it twice to ensure it would run clean. This time upon rebooting the iBook I was greeted with success! The iBook boot beautifully to the internal hard drive, I was able to run all software updates and after a week of use my friend is thrilled and says it’s zippier than ever!

The good news is I found a way to restore my friend’s Time Machine backup to her new hard drive without using a Leopard disk. The bad news is, Back In Time couldn’t do it all by itself. I spent some time in the shop playing with a healthy iMac G5, a Time Machine backup and Back In Time and received the same results. Yes, it works, but in every instance I had to run both Disk Warrior and a permissions repair. I have not played around with restoring an Intel Time Machine backup yet to see if the issue is any different on Intel vs. PowerPC. In the meantime, I wanted to share this interesting new app in hopes that someone else in a pinch out there can get something out of it. I’m also curious to know if any of our readers have used Back In Time and how has it worked for you?


You may also like

Leave A Comment

Please enter your name. Please enter an valid email address. Please enter message.