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Make your Time Machine drive more useful and more boot-iful


As we've mentioned recently, one of the conditions for a successful bare-metal restore of a Time Machine backup is a Leopard install DVD; you boot from the DVD, choose your backup as source material, wait some number of hours, and then you're back in business. Wouldn't it be good, wondered a tipster at, if you could combine the need for a DVD with all that lovely free space on your Time Machine drive and somehow accelerate this process?

Enter the "you got your peanut butter in my chocolate" solution: before you set up your Time Machine backups, use Disk Copy Utility to clone your Leopard DVD onto the blank hard drive. Once Time Machine is running, it should leave the DVD clone alone and simply use the rest of the drive for data. If you ever need to recover from a catastrophic failure, you've got a bootable Time Machine restore drive that acts just like the Leopard DVD.

My idle question (and one I plan to test when I can) is if you can actually install a lean system, perhaps with some key utilities and tools, alongside your Time Machine data; boot from that when you need to, and do repairs/recovery before moving on to the restore process. It would almost certainly be safer to carve off a small boot partition (20 GB would be ample) and set up a bare-bones boot environment, but it would be fun to try it all on the same volume and see what happens. Of course, when you hear "fun" and "backups" in the same sentence, turn tail and run.

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