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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Reduce backup frequency with TimeMachineEditor

Note: This story has not been updated since 2021.

I love the RAID array I have attached to my Mac mini server, with 16TB of data spread redundantly across five physical drives. But those drives are the only classic spinning-disc hard drives left in my house at this point, and I’ve gotten accustomed to the silence of flash storage. My RAID isn’t particularly loud, but there are still five drives in there and they do make an audible noise when they’re working.

My server backs itself up to the RAID via Time Machine (in addition to a network backup), and my iMac Pro also backs up to the RAID via Time Machine. By default, Time Machine tries to back up every hour, which leads to two backups happening in my office every hour. The result: Lots of clicking from the RAID, which is really distracting.

The solution I use to solve this problem is the free TimeMachineEditor by tclementdev (donation requested), which turns off Time Machine’s automatic scheduling and instead provides its own scheduling system that kicks off a normal Time Machine backup when appropriate. It’s a very simple tool, with three modes of operation: back up when inactive, back up on a regular timed interval, or back up at various times you define. There’s also an override to block out time when backups should never be done.

TimeMachineEditor in all its glory.

My server’s boot drive doesn’t have a lot of important data on it, and it certainly doesn’t need to backing itself up hourly. Instead, I’ve set it to back up late in the evening when I’m done for the day. As for my iMac, I’ve set it to back up “when inactive”, which generally has the effect of my Time Machine backup happening when I’m eating lunch or running an errand—and otherwise not around to hear the churning of my backup disk.

Just as these two Macs are different and require different settings, your particular setup may have some very specific attributes. TimeMachineEditor is pretty flexible, especially the Calendar Intervals feature, which will let you schedule backups exactly when you want them. Or maybe you just don’t need a backup every hour, and prefer Time Machine to run every two hours, or 90 minutes, or 10 hours.

Apple hasn’t seen fit to give you those choices when you turn on Time Machine, but TimeMachineEditor gives you that level of control. It’s almost entirely eliminated the sounds I hear from my server, and made my workspace a better place.

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