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Extract Directly from Time Machine

Normally you use Time Machine to restore lost data in a file like this: within the Time Machine interface, you go back to the time the file was not yet messed up, and you restore it to replace the file you have now.

You can also elect to keep both, but the restored file takes the name and place of the current one. So, if you have made changes since the backup took place that you would like to keep, they are lost, or you have to mess around a bit to merge changes, rename files, and trash the unwanted one.

As an alternative, you can browse the Time Machine backup volume directly in the Finder like any normal disk, navigate through the chronological backup hierarchy, and find the file which contains the lost content.

Once you've found it, you can open it and the current version of the file side-by-side, and copy information from Time Machine's version of the file into the current one, without losing any content you put in it since the backup was made.

Submitted by
Eolake Stobblehouse


Dolly Drive Sponsoring TidBITS

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We’re pleased to welcome as our latest TidBITS sponsor Cirrus Thinking, creators of the Dolly Drive software and service that brings online backups to Apple’s Time Machine. First launched at Macworld 2011, where Dolly Drive garnered the Best Software and Best of Show awards from MacLife, Dolly Drive’s goal is to extend Time Machine in ways that eliminate some of Time Machine’s limitations. (And yes, Dolly Drive is named after the sheep Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned.)

Most notably, Time Machine by default offers only local backups, but as became painfully clear during the recent earthquake and tsunami that devastated portions of eastern Japan, offsite backups are an essential part of any backup strategy. With Dolly Drive, your Time Machine backups are sent to Dolly Drive’s datacenters around the United States and Europe. Plus, you can use Dolly Drive’s Inclusions Assistant to select just what you want to back up, which is more precise than the way Time Machine lets you exclude folders and disks. Also lacking in Time Machine is any way to create a bootable clone; Dolly Drive enables you to make a bootable clone to a local hard disk so you can start working again quickly should your Mac’s hard drive fail.

Dolly Drive’s backup plans start at $5 per month for 50 GB of storage and go up to $55 per month for 2 TB of storage. With all plans, Dolly Drive rewards subscribers with an extra 5 GB every month, so your storage space automatically increases as your hard disk fills up. The 2 TB plan is brand new, and for those who can’t imagine uploading so much data, Dolly Drive is also starting the Dolly Seed program, in which they send you a hard disk that you use to create an initial Time Machine backup, after which you return it to them and continue backing up via your Internet connection.

As with all cloud-based services, security is important, and to that end, Dolly Drive authenticates all local sessions, encrypts all data, transmits all the encrypted data through a secure tunnel, and encapsulates your data within virtual storage technology that requires your direct authorization for access.

I’ve been playing with Dolly Drive for a bit now, and for the most part, it’s working just like Time Machine, albeit more slowly due to having to send and receive data across my Internet connection rather than a local hard disk. See Dolly Drive’s Getting Started page for a step-by-step tour of how it works.

It’s nice to see Dolly Drive extending Time Machine, and the programmers at Dolly Drive have lots of other ideas for enhancements, ranging from supporting local and online destinations simultaneously to scheduling clone updates.

Thanks to Dolly Drive for their support of TidBITS and the Mac community!


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Special thanks to Russell Walasek, Harlyn Thompson, Iain Devine, and
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Comments about Dolly Drive Sponsoring TidBITS
(Comments are closed.)

Betty Fellows  2011-05-16 23:04
This is perfect timing. I was about to start looking into cloud based backups and try to find 1 that was Mac based. I will check out Dolly Drive.
gvoyager  2011-05-17 13:21
So Dolly drive does not back up my Time Capsule, but REPLACES it? I would have hoped it actually backed up the Time Capsule/Time Machine.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-05-17 13:30
That's right, Dolly Drive sends your backups to their servers out on the Internet, rather than to your local hard disk or Time Capsule.

Ideally, it would be able to do both (local and remote simultaneously), but that's a limitation of Time Machine at the moment, as I understand things.
I've been using CrashPlan so that I could do a local Time Machine backup and an Online back as well.

While I haven't had to do a recovery yet from CrashPlan, the software has been working as designed for the last few months. I am happy with it, unlimited backup history and unlimited space for $5 a month is hard to beat!
Dolly Drive requires 10.6 Snow Leopard. You have to dig into the FAQs on Dolly Drive's web site for this info, which should be more obvious, both there and in the above article.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-05-19 06:51
Thanks - I hadn't realized that!
JohnB (SciFiOne)   2011-05-19 17:12
So which is best, Dolly Drive or CrashPlan? I don't really expect an answer since both are sponsors (I think) but it is something that comes to mind.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-05-20 06:37
I think it's safe to say that Dolly Drive will appeal to people who really like Time Machine and don't want to deal with any other backup software.

In contrast, CrashPlan offers its own interface, has been around for much longer, and supports backup to friends running CrashPlan as well as to CrashPlan Central.
Eolake Stobblehouse  2011-05-26 10:01
yep, thats me i just signed up with Dolly, waiting for the seed disk very excited.