I am now an advocate for Leopard’s Time Machine feature and luckily it was implemented just in time. Last weekend we went to St. George. My dad asked me about setting up Time Machine for him on his external hard drive, but it said that there wasn’t enough space for the backup. I tweaked the settings so it only backed up his user account instead of the whole operating system. It took awhile to do the initial backup, but worked without a hitch.
We drove back to Orem on Sunday and right when we got back into town I got a call from him saying his iMac was not booting. I had him try a few different things that did not work. We determined his hard drive must have gone out as it was not even showing up from the Leopard install disc. Luckily, he has Applecare (extended warranty), so he was able to take it to Computers QED in St. George, which takes care of warranty work. A day later they had a new hard drive in the machine. My dad did a clean install of Leopard and during the install it asks if you would like to restore from a time machine backup. It completely restored all his files, wallpaper. and preferences just how it was before the crash. I’ve got to say this is one of the nicest backup solutions for an end user and after the initial setup you don’t even have to think about it. I still can’t believe how lucky it was to have the backup done a few days before. Needless to say I am looking at an external hard drive now so I can finally setup my computers with Time Machine.
You can read more about Time Machine on Apple’s site at http://www.apple.com/macosx/what-is-macosx/time-machine.html