I need to wipe and rebuild my Macbook Pro Retina's hard drive (OS X Yosemite, if it matters) and am planning on using Setup Assistant to restore all my data from my Time Machine backup. Question: once I do this, will my existing Time Machine history be preserved, so that I can, say, go and find a file's version as of two months ago? Or, is there a way of accessing my old Time Machine data through the Time Machine interface (so I don't have to burrow through all the hidden Time Machine files)?

(This question was previously asked as "Clean Lion install, keeping Time Machine history?", but the fundamental question of Time Machine History was never answered.)


Well, I tried it, and indeed the Time Machine history is preserved (at least with OS X Yosemite). I did the following:

  • Erased the hard drive
  • Installed Yosemite
  • Restored from my Time Machine backup drive

After all this was done, and with the backup drive connected, I entered Time Machine on my Documents folder, and there was the history.

Good work, Apple!

Edit: I finally had to buy a new MacBook Pro, and used Setup Assistant again to transfer all my files from my old MacBook's Time Machine archive. It worked well, and when I was done I booted from my new MacBook everything was there.

Interestingly, when I re-enabled Time Machine on my new MacBook, still attached to my old MacBook's Time Machine disk, I got the following dialog (actually with different disk names):

Inherit Time Machine dialog

Sure enough, after I chose "Inherit Backup History" my new Mac was using the old Time Machine backup disk, history in all. Way, way cool.

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