How to ensure mac osx time machine is creating restorable backups

While using a Mac OSX, make sure you have a spare external hard drive which is used to take Time Machine backups. Well, if you landed on this page, you definitely know how to take Time Machine backups, however – the concern which strikes most of the people is whether you can make a restorable backup using Time Machine.

By default, Time Machine makes full system backups, unless changes in the system settings might keep it from taking backups of system files/folders. Here I show you how to confirm if the system files/folders are being backed up while you run a Time Machine backup process.

Time Machine is Apple’s built in application to backup the state of Operating system and user files/documents. This application of all OSX versions ensures that you have hourly for current day, daily backups for past few days and weekly backups over a period of time. Beyond which it retains monthly backup. Also if the external disk runs out of space for backup, Time Machine shall delete the oldest backup retained on the Backup drive.

By default, all the files on the system are backed up. However, you can confirm if system files are being backed up or not.

sudo defaults read /Library/Preferences/com.apple.TimeMachine SkipSystemFiles

Result of this command should be “0” or “1”.

If it shows “0”, its an assurance that system files are being backed up.
If the result is “1”, it means your system files are avoided from the time machine backups.

Running the following command shall allow you to make this system files backup started
sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.TimeMachine SkipSystemFiles false

After this setting is modified, consider that Time Machine’s next execution will now include your system files and may take longer than regular backup process.

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