Time Machine setup tip

Here’s a tip for setting up Time Machine that I discovered today:

If you have a folder with a lot of bytes of subfolders and files that don’t really need to be backed up, you can exclude the top-level and everything inside it by dragging the top-level folder into the “Exclude” list accessible via the “Options” button in Time Machine settings in System Preferences.

What to do if you have a deep hierarchy like this but have a sub-sub-folder way down in the directory hierarchy that you do want to have backed up?  Well you can exclude the entire parent folder as before, but then put an alias to that one sub-sub-folder you want backed up somewhere that isn’t excluded.  Time Machine seems to follow the alias and back up the contents, even though they are in reality in an excluded directory tree.   This is great!

So, as an example, I don’t want all my iTunes music backed up (it’s archived in other ways and doesn’t change often).   However, I do want the “Voice Memos” folder that is synched from my iPhone backed up and it’s located inside the “iTunes Music” folder.  There are a few other similar cases that I’ve run into so I created a “stuff to back up” folder at the root of my user folder and then put an alias to the “Voice Memos” folder there.  I’ll put other similar folders that I effectively want un-excluded in there as well.  Problem solved!

I tested this and it seems to work with 10.6.3 Time Machine to a TimeCapsule.

Certainly something you should test for yourself should you want to do something similar, but this worked for me in my simple test.


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