Time Machine Editor Does One Thing and Does It Well
by Alan Zisman (c)
published in Low
had a bit of a problem. I had purchased a new to me (but used) DVD, and
wanted to make a copy of it. Yes, you can make legally make copies of
DVDs you own for personal use. This is convenient in a couple of ways:
If you make a copy in standard video DVD format, you can watch that
disc instead of the original, so any wear and tear will affect the copy
while keeping the original safe on the shelf.
And you can rip
the video into a format watchable on an iPod, iPhone, MacBook Air, or
other device that lacks a built-in DVD drive - or rip a bunch of them
to store on your laptop's hard drive for a trip. You'll use less
battery life watching it that way than in spinning a plastic disc for a
couple of hours.
The widely-used Roxio Toast burning application
won't directly make a copy of a copy-protected DVD, but there are a
couple of handy free Mac applications: HandBrake
generally does a nice job of extracting individual chapters - or all
the contents - of a disc, saving it in MP4 or other format, and it can
be easily set to optimize the contents for viewing on a standard TV,
iPod, etc. These files are generally quite a bit smaller than the
original 4-7 GB of your DVD.
does a different job - also extracting the files from your DVD onto
your hard drive, but rather than creating a single file playable in,
say, Quicktime, it leaves them in a DVD-like format, playable using
your Mac's DVD Player application. This results in a folder that's
about the same size as the original DVD.
I was using HandBrake
so I could store and view my DVD on my iPod touch. Generally I've had
good results with this. This time, though, something wasn't working
right. Though the original DVD played fine, both on a TV and on my Mac,
and the visuals in the extracted file seemed fine, the sound was
unlistenable - sounding as though it being heard from deep under water.
fiddled with the HandBrake options and tried again, with the same
result. I tried creating an AVI file rather than the default MP4
format. I tried copying the saved file onto a memory stick and viewing
it on a different computer. I even tried the disc, using the Windows
version of HandBrake. I got the same results every time. This was
especially frustrating, since it took well over an hour each time to
rip the file from the DVD.
to do anything else on the Mac was glacially slow. The problem was only
partly because HandBrake was busy trying to work with a balky used DVD
disc. I noticed that the little Time Machine icon up on the right side
of the menu bar seemed to be spinning non-stop. The problem? Time
Machine's default is to check for changed files every hour, copying
them to my external drive. And every hour or so, I had a new large file
on my desktop. The result was that Time Machine was almost constantly
chugging away at the same time that HandBrake was constantly chugging
||In making Time Machine simple to use, Apple
hasn't provided users with
any easy way to change how often it runs. The options let you chose
folders to not back up - useful to avoid backing up large virtualized
Parallels or VMware Fusion systems that change every time you run them
- but that's about it.
In retrospect, I suppose I could have
simply disabled Time Machine - or temporarily set it to not check the
Desktop, where my DVD rips were being stored.
||A Better Way
But nicely, I found something better.
The free Time
does one thing: It lets you change Time Machine's default of backing up
every hour. Set Time Machine to back up daily and in the middle of the
night if you prefer. Or every fraction of an hour (which I wouldn't
recommend!). Or once a week. Your choice.
There's a menu option
making it easy to revert to Apple's defaults. I've set it to backup
every 12 hours, twice a day. That ought to give me plenty of usable
backups to access if needed, without having Time Machine slow my system
to a crawl if I need to work with large files.
My thanks to the good people at TimeSoftware, somewhere in France.
in case you were wondering, I was able to use MacTheRipper to backup my
problematic DVD . . . and afterwards, the sound was okay using
HandBrake on the MacTheRipper-created copy).