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10.5: Speed up initial AirPort - Time Machine backups System 10.5
I found the initial Time Machine backup to a disk hooked up to my AirPort Extreme to be painfully slow. This procedure sped the process up enormously. The only tricky part about this is that you don't have to tell Time Machine you're moving the drive. I'm using an external disk with one partition formatted with "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)," and sharing it with a disk password.

First hook your USB drive up to your AirPort Extreme and configure the disks for Time Machine. Add the disk to your time machine and start the initial backup. Once Time Machine is past the "preparing" stage and is actually copying data, cancel the backup. This step creates the sparsebundle image that will contain the backup on the drive.

Unmount the disk. You'll probably also want to disconnect all users using the AirPort Utility. Disconnect the drive from the Airport Extreme and connect it directly to the computer you're backing up. After the disk is mounted, just go to your Time Machine status (or dock icon) and force a backup. You do not need to try to change the Time Machine disk or muck around with the sparsebundle. Time Machine should pick it up automatically.

Once the initial backup is done, eject the disk and put it back on your AirPort Extreme. Time Machine should still be able to find the drive and do its incremental backup to it.

[robg adds: The ability to back up to an AirPort Extreme USB disk was added with the recent Time Machine and AirPort updates -- see this article for more information.]
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Other wired option.
Authored by: chrisjniles on Mar 31, '08 10:48:26AM

Alternatively, you could plug your Mac into the Airport Extreme/Time Capsule via ethernet. That way (assuming you have enough ethernet cables) you could do a faster initial backup of up to 3 Macs at once instead of one at a time.

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Other wired option.
Authored by: thayneq on Mar 31, '08 12:01:13PM

the problem with this option is that it will actually be SLOWER over ethernet than directly to USB. This isn't because USB is faster than gigabit ethernet, it's because when doing a backup over ethernet, you are using the airport extreme's very weak processor to write data to the USB drive. Over gigabit ethernet, you'll only get around 4-5 Mbps top speed, which is actually only slightly faster than doing it over 802.11n wireless. So as you'll see, to do an initial backup this way is *much* faster as the hint suggests.

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Other wired option.
Authored by: ryanparrish on Mar 31, '08 07:02:28PM

4 - 5Mbs ????

I just checked mine, and I can get a solid 38Mbs over wireless (802.11n with a lot of walls), and 78Mbs over 100Mbs ethernet going to an AirPort Disk - you may want to look though your settings or get something replaced.

I don't argue that it will be faster directly connected through USB though.

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Other wired option.
Authored by: channui on Apr 01, '08 09:13:48AM

I had set up my computer to perform the initial backup over wired gigabit ethernet to my Airport Extreme. After about 15 hours of backing up, it had managed to copy about 50GB of data. I aborted that run, wiped the disk and started the backup directly connected and it finished about 170GB overnight, definitely less the 10 hours. While I was watching the network backup with dtrace I saw that there seemed to be significant overhead in copying small files.

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10.5: Speed up initial AirPort - Time Machine backups
Authored by: kiwiiano on May 01, '08 03:14:53AM

I followed the instructions but found when I returned to my Air Disk connection and asked for a backup, the sparsebundle had been replaced with a backup.backupdb and TM started from scratch with a new sparsebundle. It tripped up shortly after because there isn't enough room on the drive for 2 different backups.
Anyone struck this?

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10.5: Speed up initial AirPort - Time Machine backups
Authored by: boston_guy on May 02, '08 09:13:52PM
I also failed to get the instructions to work. The following blog entry is provides the tip above in more details. Following them in every detail, worked like a charm for me:


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