Hey folks, Does anyone know what exactly time machine backs up? Is it just my data files or the operating system and settings as well?

Lets say down the road if I want to re-install OS X, Can I use simply time machine back up to get my settings and apps back or it`ll just give me my data ?

Looking forward to honest replies. Thanks

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2 Answers from the Community

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    Time Machine backs up everything except transient files (things like caches). This means you can do what's known as a bare-metal restore from a time machine backup. It seems to be a little known fact that with recent versions of OS X, beginning with 10.7 Lion, you can even boot the Mac from a Time Machine backup drive. This is possible because OS X adds a hidden recovery partition to the disk (assumoing the host machine has a recovery partition and the Time Machine backup drive was formatted with a GUID Partition Table or GPT).

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  • Time machine backs up only software data, not firmware. Software includes things like applications, documents, etc. Firmware is essentially the operating system for the Mac (OSX). However, the SETTINGS for the operating system (which are mostly configured in System Preferences) are stored in data files and ARE backed up by time machine.

    In short:

    DOES BACK UP: anything downloaded and installed from the Internet, anything written in document processors (Word, Pages, PowerPoint, etc.), all applications, and more

    DOES NOT BACK UP: firmware like OSX Lion or the to-be OSX Mavericks. If for some reason you need to re-install the operating system, there are many guides online on how to do it.

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