I've been a Mac user for a few years now. Thinking about if it would be a good idea to set up a Mac for my parents, I came to think of the awesome feature of System Restore in Windows where making a System Restore point once a day would make it really easy to roll back any mistakes or installed software that made the computer not work well.

Is there anything like it, perhaps a third party application or some cool github project, for Mac OS X?


3 Answers 3


So far as I know there isn't a nice automated way to provide the benefits of System Restore as it is implemented on Windows. For all its utility for Windows users, though, System Restore can't be used to backup/restore individual files & whatnot at the whim of the user - that requires a separate backup system.

Time Machine on OS X, on the other hand, can provide for the backup/restore of deleted documents, folders, etc, and can be used to restore an entire hard drive in the event of a crashed or munged drive. I've used this function a few times, twice on a very important server, and once on my own machine, with great success.

My Mom's new Lion iMac is setup with an inexpensive external 500 GB USB hard drive and Time Machine is running like clockwork. My Mom knows to check the Time Machine menu every day to make sure it is backing up. She's even started to recover files on her own now, without needing to call Tech Support (me).

Time Machine was also very helpful in migrating her creaky Leopard Mac mini to the new iMac a few months ago. Instead of hooking the old & new Macs together via Ethernet cable, I simply ran a Time Machine backup on the old machine, shut it down, connected the USB drive to the new iMac, and the Migration Assistant app took care of the rest. Her new iMac was up and running in a little more than an hour.

A non-Time Machine solution would be using Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! to back up the Mac to an external hard drive on a regular basis. This would allow for a mass restore of the drive's contents.

Another non-Time Machine solution would be to boot from the System Install DVD (pre-Lion) or an bootable external HD (Lion & after) and create a restorable disk image. After converting the image to ASR format, Disk Utility can be used to restore the disk image.

  • Thank you for including the mention of CarbonCopyCloner, CajunLuke, and adding the (!) after SuperDuper. I haven't used CCC if quite a while, so I'm glad to see it is still out there and supporting Lion as well. Go Bombich!
    – IconDaemon
    Jun 8, 2012 at 15:22
  • So, essentially, a combination of System Restore and Time Machine (where you had the option of restoring the system to a functioning state and/or restoring individual files) sounds like The Best of Both Worlds™
    – molle
    Jun 9, 2012 at 13:35
  • Well, there is no System Restore for OSX - it is solely a Windows application. That's all.
    – IconDaemon
    Jun 13, 2012 at 18:39

May be I'm replying too late here. But I would like to share a good restore software for Mac OS. I'm Deep Freeze user. It is a Mac OS restore software by Faronics.I have installed it before 2 years on my Mac. It is protecting my Mac OS configuration since. Easy to use and simple to install.

  • 2
    That software seems to be aimed at IT management of Macs. Can you perhaps list the specific features that address the OP's question about System Restore? How does this help you checkpoint the state of an entire machine?
    – Ian C.
    Jun 3, 2014 at 14:07

Cmd-R to the rescue.

Just hold down Cmd-R during startup and OS X Recovery springs into action. It lets you choose from common utilities: You can run Disk Utility to check or repair your hard drive, erase your hard drive and reinstall a fresh copy of OS X, or restore your Mac from a Time Machine backup. You can even use Safari to get help from Apple Support online. And if OS X Recovery encounters problems, it will automatically connect to Apple over the Internet.

  • OS X Recovery is not comparable to System Restore. The only slightly tenuous link to System Restore is the fact that you can recover a Time Machine backup in OS X Recovery.
    – Mattie
    Mar 30, 2013 at 19:56
  • "[...] I came to think of the awesome feature of System Restore in Windows where making a System Restore point once a day would make it really easy to roll back any mistakes or installed software that made the computer not work well."
    – molle
    Mar 31, 2013 at 9:56
  • Recovery boot is essential since it's how you get to Time Machine to do the roll-back and restore, but it's more of a time saver since you don't need bootable DVD/USB media to run the system so it's clearly an equivalent to the part of windows that runs as an alternate OS to the normal boot.
    – bmike
    Apr 26, 2013 at 13:33

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