Time machine for Mac vs reboot and restore - application in multi-user computing environments

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Multi-user computing environments are becoming more and more common across commercial and non-commercial organisations operating with high-end technology empowered infrastructures. Often, a single device might be accessed by numerous users. In such cases, it is necessary to have a comprehensive and quickly operable system restoration software in place.

For MacOS users, Time Machine is employed in order to restore the system to a previous functional state in the event of a malfunction. Alternatively, Apple users can also utilise the abilities of Reboot and Restore technology in order to ensure that their systems can always be restored to a pristine state, which is of perfect functionality.

A comparison between the two can be beneficial for those seeking to choose the optimal solution.

Apple time machine

Time Machine is a feature for backup and recovery that was first introduced by Apple in MacOS X Leopard. On being enabled, incremental backups of files and everything on a Mac system is created and stored on the external storage device chosen by the user as the backup disk for Time Machine. Hourly backups are created automatically for the past 24 hours, daily backups are created for last 30 days, and weekly backups for files that are older than a month. After the first snapshot is created, Time Machine creates a backup of files that have been modified after the latest backup. The option for users to manually create backups is available. To do so, they can choose the ‘Backup Now’ option available on the Time Machine menu.

In case a file or email is accidentally deleted or corrupted, Time Machine lets Mac users view the incremental backups in a timeline view. By selecting the one containing the desired version of the aforementioned file, the user can retrieve it. If a sudden system crash occurs, Mac users can also use Time Machine to restore the entire system.

 Limitations in multi-user computing environments 

Time Machine is most frequently used as the primary backup tool by MacOS users. However, its functionality entails certain limitations, especially in technological structures involving more than one user.

  • It is not possible to create a permanent backup with Time Machine. It prioritises the most newly created snapshots. In case the storage space is filled to capacity, older snapshots are deleted to make room for newer ones.
  • Time Machine cannot work with optical discs such as CDs and DVDs to create snapshots. It can only work with hard drives. In addition, snapshots cannot be compressed to save space on the storage device.
  • Time Machine cannot make bootable copies of backups. It means, if the existing backup disk is found to be damaged, Mac users need to spend a lot of time to restore data to a new storage drive. This can result in prolonged downtime and loss of productivity.
  • Even the smallest modification to a file needs to be recorded by creating a whole new snapshot. If it is a particularly large file, then each snapshot will occupy significant space on the backup disk.
  • The schedule according to which Time Machine creates snapshots is predetermined, and cannot be altered by users without the assistance of third-party solutions.
  • In order to successfully store snapshots on the external hard drive, Time Machine needs the Apple-specific HFS+ file system.

Reboot and restore

Reboot and Restore technology works on a non-restrictive principle that returns a system to a perfectly functional state within a few minutes. After installation, software using Reboot to Restore technology preserves the current configuration of the Ma system as the baseline. Henceforth, every restart will return the system back to the predetermined, pristine baseline. All user made changes are discarded. This means that with every restart, the user has access to a perfectly functioning system running at optimal operability.

A Reboot and Restore solution allows IT admins to ensure 100 per cent system availability. No restrictions have to be imposed on users with this software in place. This essentially means that users can operate under a non-restrictive environment that certainly boosts their creative abilities and efficiency.  Any issues caused by a user’s actions in terms of unintentional malware entry through downloads or configuration drifts can be resolved with just a restart. Reverting the system to an optimal state with every restart also prolongs the system life cycle and maximises its performance.

It is best to install Reboot to Restore software when one is certain that the system configuration is functioning at the best possible state. If changes have to be made to the baseline configuration, then one simply has to disable the Reboot and Restore solution, make the necessary changes and enable it once again. Every restart will now revert to the updated baseline.

With regard to multi-user computing environments, Reboot and Restore tools offers certain advantages:

  • Restoring a Mac system with a Time Machine snapshot can be fairly complicated, especially for users not familiar with the OS. In contrast, Reboot to Restart simply requires a restart. The process takes a few minutes which greatly saves time and resources. Issues like configuration drifts become a thing of the past.
  • Unlike Time Machine, Reboot and Restore solution saves one configuration as the baseline. This saves time on having to choose between multiple snapshots. The question of occupying too much storage space also does not arise.        
  • If the system is adversely affected by malicious software or a corrupt file, it can be difficult to use Time Machine if there is no way to ascertain which file is the cause of the problem. This can be quite time-consuming. Reboot to Restore technology, on the other hand, preserves the baseline configuration from malicious programs and files generated during user sessions by discarding them post every restart.
  • Since users can easily initiate this technology, IT team does not need to physically attend to every device experiencing issues. This not only reduces downtime but also lets IT personnel focus on innovating ways to increase productivity and create a more satisfying user experience.

Jose Richardson, marketing, Reboot and Restore Solutions
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