Alternative method to use Entourage and Time Machine

Previously, I explained how to “Time Machine” your Identity. Guy, one of the commenters, pointed out a way to easily add your Identity to your Time Machine backup without the hourly/daily additions.

The previous tutorial could be used by Tiger and Leopard users, but this is Leopard only.

  1. Exclude the Microsoft User Data folder in the Time Machine options, which will stop it backing up every hour.
  2. Create an “Entourage Backup” folder – which is not excluded. It’s OK to use your Documents folder for this.
  3. Create a timed action. See tutorial but start with Step 3, which will copy the entire Entourage database to the backup folder, at the interval required – every day, every week, or whatever. This should overwrite the previous backup each time, as Time Machine has taken care of duplicating the last copy.

Thanks Guy for a great tip!


Added April 24, 2009: See article Quit all Microsoft applications before backing up for the latest info on what is needed to quit for a successful backup.

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24 comments to Alternative method to use Entourage and Time Machine

  • TonyL

    Start with step 3 with the alternative do you also mean end in step 3.

  • dianer

    Hi Tony, No, you start with step 3. No need to use the folder action to use this method to backup your database to Time Machine. You do need to copy it to another folder so you only get it backed up once a day.

  • Karen

    Hi: I just got a Mac and after using it for about a week I woke up one morning and everything in Entourage was gone. I was able to restore my info via Time Machine. I’ve since learned how to exclude Entourage from the Time Machine backup and it seems to be working. I decided to try the alternative method you suggested. I found a folder called Main Identity, is that the right one to add? Actually I had 3 Main Identity folders, is that bad? I’m very new to all of this and don’t understand a lot but am trying my best to learn. Please help!!

  • dianer

    You need to add the entire Office 2008 Identities folder.
    You can have multiple Identities in the Office 2008 Identities folder, but they all must have different names. Do the names have a number added after Main? The Finder requires all files have different names in the same folder.

  • Robin

    One of the things that puzzles me is that an earlier Microsoft article states that aside from the size issues, one of the reasons Time Machine can’t back the Entourage Database up properly is that the Microsoft Database Daemon holds the file open, and that any backup obtained would be corrupt as a result.
    If that’s the case then surely the same would be true when simply copy/pasting the file to another folder, or using an automated script? The copy wouldn’t be able to lock the file and the copy would then be corrupt in some way?
    Does taking Entourage ‘offline’ get around this, or does the daemon still hold the file open even then?

  • Diane Ross

    Time Machine backs up hourly. There is no way to put Entourage into an “offline” state hourly. When you use a script or copy, you select a time that Entourage is not in use. For example, at the end of the day, I put Entourage “offline”. My backup script runs at 3AM.
    If you were to use the alternative Time Machine method, It is copying a database that is not in use so it’s can’t be corrupted.

  • Robin

    Ah, my confusion stems from a statement made in the original article at http://blog.entourage.mvps.org/2008/03/microsoft_ditch_the_entourage_database.html which says:
    “The Microsoft Database Daemon is constantly using the Entourage Database so that it can remind you of events, create Spotlight caches for searching and monitor the health of the Database itself. Even if Entourage is not running, the daemon is still using it.
    If Time Machine or any other backup utility were to copy the Database file while it’s in use then the backup would be corrupted (although your original is still just fine).”
    This implies that even if Entourage is shut down, this Microsoft Database Daemon is still active, holding the Entourage database open, and that any attempt to copy the database file would result in a corrupt copy. The only solution then would be to close Entourage AND kill the Microsoft Database Daemon process before running a copy.
    I just checked on my Mac (Office 2008 on Leopard 10.5.2) and even though Entourage isn’t running, the Daemon is.
    Sorry if I’ve missed the point completely =;-)

  • Diane Ross

    In the alternative method, you are backing up a copy of Entourage. The daemon cannot keep this copy open. It’s only the database in your Microsoft User Data folder that the daemon can control.
    Does this help?

  • Matthew Yohe

    Diane,
    I think you might be missing what Robin is saying.
    The main issue with Time Machine and the Entourage database isn’t because it is backed up every hour filling up hard drives, but because the database daemon is running at all times and could do some garbage collection during a copy and end up corrupting your copy.
    While this seems to be a helpful tip, at this point, I wouldn’t trust the backups it creates. And the likelihood of a backup being corrupted is directly proportional to the size of your database. As the database increases, the amount of time the system requires to copy that file increases, thus more time is allowed for the daemon to corrupt things.
    Honestly, I still have yet to find a well tested solution.

  • Diane Ross

    I added scripts to quit the daemon and Entourage to the original Time Machine article. This should take care of any problems.

  • ClaudiaC

    Hi,
    I have attempted the alternative method on a Leopard OS. I have followed the instructions and for some reason, it is not backing anything up to my “back up” folder in the documents. In the workflow, I changed the “Main” part to the Microsoft User Data, and I changed the next part of the workflow to point the back up folder I created in my documents. I am not getting any error messages. I have 8GB all together, and I have created the appointment in ical for every day. Unfortunately, nothing is being copied to that folder. Any suggestions?

  • Diane Ross

    Please look for my message sent to you privately.

  • claudia C

    I am wondering if you can help me figure out a few things. We are still struggling with this automator for Entourage.
    We received an error:
    “ALARM ERROR”
    THE OPEN FILE ALARM THAT WAS ASSIGNED TO THE EVENT COULD NOT TRIGGER ON OCT 27TH 2008 AS MUD BACK UP.APP COULD NOT BE OPENED.
    Also, when we are running the file (manually) the office reminders and My Day keep popping up. Is there a way to stop them from doing that? I added a “Run Applescript” Action which was exactly the same as the two using Microsoft Entourage and Database Daemon for the Microsoft Office reminders to tell it to Quit, but they seem to still be popping up when the Workflow is running.
    I would greatly appreciate some help on this. I have the workflow running on my computer without a hitch, but for some reason on my client’s computer there have been problems the whole way through.
    Thanks again for your help!

  • Diane Ross

    The error MUD BACK UP.APP COULD NOT BE OPENED is an Automator or iCal error. When you are saving the workflow the directions tell you to “Save your workflow as as a plugin to iCal.” Try saving as plugin for iCal and see if it works, if now….
    Can you send me your workflow and some screenshots. I’ve never had this problem and not sure what is causing the behavior for you. I’ll see if I can reproduce here.
    If you can give me exact steps, that would help.
    BTW, is My Day set to open in login items?
    I sent you an email privately so you can send the files via email.

  • Michael F

    I have tried to get the Ical event to work but nothing happens. I have used the exact edit as in the screenshot but the workflow from automator does not start, nothing happens. The workflow works from within automator if i hit run.
    A second question. Can this be setup to run if the computer is asleep? Is there a way to wake it up?

  • Can you send me some screenshots? I responded to you off list. Look for my email so you can send me the screenshots.
    As far as the second question, “Can this be setup to run if the computer is asleep? Is there a way to wake it up?”
    In System Preferences –> Energy Saver, set a schedule to wake your computer.

  • Claudia C

    Hi Diane,
    My client’s computer was using the alternate method for backing up with time machine using the automator, and everything was going fine. He woke up this morning, and his computer said his hard disk is full when he tried to open entourage. The Entourage back up folder and the Microsoft User Data folder is 163GB each. I know this is large, but I don’t understand how overnight, the process that was recommended for safely being able to back up his identities may have caused harm. Should he be saving the Entourage back up folder to another drive? His time machine also warned him that it could not take any more data which I also think is odd, because my understanding was that time machine would begin deleting the oldest files to make room for new ones. Any input you have would be greatly appreciated.

  • Any backup should be on another drive. If the drive goes bad you’re going to loose everything.
    I’m confused over the size. You’re saying the Microsoft User Data folder is 163 GB? Can you send me some screenshots? Send me an email
    As far as Time Machine not deleting old copies, you’ll have to search the Apple Discussions to get help with that.

  • Robin Byers

    This is a great suggestion Diane, and I am now regularly excluding Entourage from the Time Machnie backup and only backing the Database up once a week. However one question…
    I want to check the backups are working, but when I enter TIme Machine and try to open the Database, Entourage opens, but it is the current state which opens not the backed up version.
    Say I want to retreive an old e-mail. Do I have to restore the Database first. I just wanted to check that this wouldn’t then overwrite the current Database.
    Hope this makes sense.
    Thanks

  • Restoring an item is covered in Restore single item from backup.
    Hope this helps!

  • Hi Diane, i recently started using Leopard OS and i am in a huge fix. I followed the instructions that you gave, are just fine but since i am new to all of this i am having a real problem following the 3rd step in this blog. I would really appreciate it if you just rephrase the step 3 for me please. Thank you so much.

  • The original article included two steps that are not required with making a copy for Time Machine. After you make your folder in Documents, open Automator as described in Step Three in the linked page.
    Download workflow. You will need to edit for your personal settings.

  • Elsa

    Hello Diane or anyone who can help,
    I also have the 16001 error when receiving email on one of my pop accounts. I have three and the other two work. I have located your most recent instructions with the comment as of Sept. 09 that they did not apply to the most recent version of snow leopard. I have a MAC Book (purchased in Sept.) with snow leopard 10.6.2.
    I decided the try your instruction anyway and skipped to step three as directed. I downloaded your MUD file and it picked up my identity. All I had to do was point it to my entourage backup folder in Documents.
    PROBLEM:
    I was not able to save the MUD file as a plug in and there is no workflow folder. So, I’m assuming this is where the instructions don’t apply to snow leopard and wondered if you could direct me. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you for your blog and such detailed explanations. They are really helpful.
    Thanks, Elsa

  • Use the workflow as a guide. In Snow Leopard, you start by creating an iCal event. This takes the place of saving as plugin.
    You can drag the Applescript part over, but for the actions, select them from the list. SL updates some of the actions.
    Does this give you enough help to do this in SL?