August 11th, 2006 • 1:43 pm
This is the kind mainstream journalism about the Mac that is becoming more and more common and is quite irritating. In his post about Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) on his New York Times blog, veteran Mac columnist David Pogue writes:
Leopard will include an automatic, invisible, whole-computer backup system called Time Machine. In times of hard-drive failure or human error, it will let you rewind either your operating system or even individual documents and windows to earlier versions. Remember, fewer than five percent of us have automatic backup systems in place, so this is huge. Yes, I know there are certain third-party software programs that do something like this–there always are. But it’s quite another matter when it becomes part of the operating system.)
What irks me here is that David Pogue appears to suggest that, just by installing Mac OS X 10.5 on their Mac, Mac users will all of a sudden be protected against hard-drive failure. And this is simply untrue. Unless you purchase an external hard drive and set up Time Machine to do automatic backups of all your stuff on that external hard drive, Mac OS X 10.5 will not protect you against hard-drive failure in any way. If your Mac’s internal hard drive crashes, you’ll still lose everything, even with Time Machine.
Now, of course, David Pogue is not factually wrong. With the addition of an external hard drive, Time Machine will indeed protect you from hard-drive failures (or at least that’s what Apple’s preview of the feature suggests). But he’s guilty of failing to mention that crucial fact that an external hard drive will be required, thereby misleading many of his Mac-using readers.
And if David Pogue does it, you can be sure that a lot of other mainstream Mac writers will do the same thing. They will conveniently forget to mention that, without an external hard drive, Time Machine will have absolutely zero impact on your data’s safety in case of a hard crash, and that it is therefore doubtful that, without ubiquitous external hard drives, the feature in itself will have much impact in the real world.
OK, it will help protect you against human error—but even there, it remains to be seen how effective the feature will be. How many different versions of your documents will it archive? If you save your Word document every five minutes for five hours, will Time Machine keep 5x5x12 = 300 copies of the document on your hard drive? I somehow doubt it. So Time Machine will still have to be selective about what it keeps and what it discards. And I am not sure it’ll be smart enough to always keep what might really be needed.
In any case, the point here is that, once again, the mainstream Mac media fails to do its job and properly inform Mac users of the actual real-world value of Apple’s announcements, instead choosing to perpetuate that “reality-distortion field” of exaggerated hype that they themselves keep deriding elsewhere at the same time.