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Take Control of Mac OS X Backups by Joe Kissell

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The Archive

Sometimes referred to as a versioned backup (or, in the case of Retrospect, simply a backup), an archive contains copies of your files as they existed at multiple points in time. (Time Machine, for example, uses this approach.) If you want to see the version of a file that existed on your Mac two weeks ago, an archive can deliver that—plus today's version and the version that existed a month ago.

An archive starts with a complete copy of all the files in one or more folders. The next time the backup runs, your backup software could make another complete copy, but because most of the files probably have not changed, that would use up a great deal of space—and take a long time. So backup programs typically perform incremental updates. ...

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