I have concern regarding this behavior.

When I use Time Machine as a standard user, it backs up everything (including data of users I do NOT even own). I realize that I still cannot access it, but how legit it is to allow me to backup everything on a system used by multiple users on an external hard drive and take it away with me?

2 Answers 2


You need to be an admin user to turn on Time Machine or change the disk - if you are an admin user you can see all the data on the machine.


As @mark pointed out, standard users cannot set up Time Machine and do many things needed to maintain a system. Therefore, all a standard user can do is copy files or install an application in the user folder to set up backups of the data that is readable by that user.

I have only tested CrashPlan as an administrator, but I see no reason why you couldn't use that to get incremental backups over time of one user folder (or a subset of that folder). You can install applications in your folder as a normal non-admin user.

By making a standard user - the admin is responsible for letting you do anything that is in your scope and in this case - Time Machine was allowed for you by virtue of making your account, so that's why you get to start that process.

The fact that you have access to the backup media has nothing to do with software or permissions. If you choose to take that data, you can simply do that without any concern for how the system is set up or designed.

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