I'm having an issue that seems may be resolved by formatting and reinstalling, but if I do this and then recover from Time Machine during the install (assuming a backup just prior to the format), would anything be different? My issue may be the result of some kind of corrupted file associations or something so if the restore operation is a copy it may fix it, but if it's a bit for bit backup I don't see it making a difference.

If it matters, I have a early 2013 Retina MBP which has an SSD.

  • Just wondering: what was the corruption? is it just a few files or tons of files?
    – jeremy
    Jan 2, 2014 at 23:53
  • Not sure. I am having issues that lead me to try to boot into Safe Mode, which I cannot do and some Googling leads me to believe that this could be the result of some kind of file/disk corruption.
    – tenmiles
    Jan 3, 2014 at 0:00

1 Answer 1


As a rule of thumb system files are preserved from the fresh install and your data is copied from the Time Machine.

You've mentioned file associations — I presume you're referring to file associations with your own files, and therefore a Time Machine restore would copy those associations. The main exception to this is if the application that the file is associated with is missing. Then the file would change it's association to the 'next best' app.

From the rule of thumb you can generally guess what'll be restored and what'll be left alone, but feel free to add more specific detail to your question.

  • File associations is probably not the term for it. I meant that there is some kind of broken files, perhaps at the disk level, that was causing issues. Your answer did give some insight into how TM works and it seems that reinstalling worked for me.
    – tenmiles
    Jan 4, 2014 at 4:04

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