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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups Network
This hint collects together what I have learned about solutions for Time Machine backups. There are a number of viable solutions, and I cover several of them.

External USB or Firewire drive

The most basic solution is a directly-attached external USB drive enclosure. This might be okay for desktop machines, but what bothers me about this is that both the Mac and the drive are on the same power circuit. If lighting strikes, then both can get hit at the same time. In a Mac Pro, you can use another internal drive for TM. And there are also external RAID solutions like I mention below. Unless you are particularly disciplined, this is a lousy solution for portable Macs. When I was going this route, I was lucky if I remembered to plug in the backup drive once a week. Maybe other people can do better than that, but it's still inconvenient.

Thus, I prefer networked solutions. However, at the end of this hint, I go into a discussion on why TM is a great design for local backups, but a major source of unreliability for networked backups.

Time Capsule

If you want to do Time Machine backups over a network, then Apple's primary supported configuration is Time Capsule. I'm not happy about that, because Time Capsules have a history of being unreliable. Back in 2009, there was a wave of failures. A web site was set up to track the failures. This site is either abandoned, or there haven't been any failures since early 2010. Maybe TC has gotten better, but the fact of the matter is, it's a single-disk system with inadequate ventilation and cooling. People still report them getting very hot. Mechanical drives are already a ticking time bomb -- letting them get hot accelerates that process significantly. The heat also plays havoc with the other electronics, and many failures have left the drive intact but inaccessible. You could get a replacement unit from Apple, but you could not salvage your data, because removing the drive would void your warranty.

Apple server

Once upon a time, Apple sold a blade server called Xserve. That may have been part of a reasonable TM solution for a corporate environment. But with the demise of any sort of dedicated Apple server platform, there is no longer a good centralizable solution for TM backups for a large number of Macs. In a corporate environment, therefore, you must decide if you want to provide every desktop with its own external backup drive and badger the notebook users to plug it in periodically. Or set up a Mac Pro with some huge drives crammed in it and hope it works reliably as a server. For a home user, if you have a desktop Mac and a notebook, you can connect an external drive to the desktop and backup the notebook wirelessly. You just have to make sure that the desktop is awake whenever you want to backup the notebook, which is only slightly more convenient than just plugging the notebook into its own backup drive.

The most convenient solution is some kind of Network Attached Storage (NAS). Unfortunately, Apple's support for that is limited to their own sanctioned solutions.

Airport Extreme Base Station with external USB drive

Another option is a USB drive attached to an Airport Extreme Base Station (AEBS). This isn't officially supported by Apple, although the firmware supports all the necessary Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) features for Time Machine to work reliably. There, the weak link is the drive itself. There are a lot of external USB drive options, like WD's MyBook, but most of those solutions aren't intended for extended use. If you back up three Macs to one drive, then that drive is going to spin up three times an hour, and spin-ups cause wear and tear to desktop drives. On the other hand, if the drive spins continuously, unless the external enclosure has a fan in it, then it's going to heat up, with the usual consequences.

I would recommend a RAID solution like the LaCie 2big Quadra. (There's a switch on the back to select a RAID 1 configuration.) This actually costs more than a TC of the same capacity, but that's because there are two drives, providing redundancy. If a drive fails, open up the unit and replace it. If the logic board fails, pop the drives in a replacement enclosure. You can connect a drive to the AEBS via USB, and it appears as a Time Machine supporting volume with no hassle. If you're willing to spend the money, I think this may be the best solution overall.

Linux or Windows Server

With Linux, you have a few options for serving files, including NFS, SMB, and AFP. For Windows, you have built-in SMB support, and there are NFS solutions as well.

The most obvious solution for Linux would be to use an AFP server, like Netatalk. AFP is more efficient than SMB and therefore faster over high speed networks. Unfortunately, Netatalk has some serious drawbacks:
  • It suffers from random authentication failures. Every Mac I have will randomly fail to authenticate once out of every 5 or 10 connection attempts, and I'm not the only one with this experience. My attempts to debug have failed because doing things like enabling debug messages mask the problem. I've reported this bug, but I was told by the Netatalk devs that they're only interested in looking into it if a corporate customer encounters the problem. The occasional failed authenication, however is really a minor problem. Netatalk can supposedly use Kerberos authentication directly, but I've never been able to get that to work.
  • Netatalk doesn't support Replay Cache or TM Lock Stealing, two features essential for reliable TM backup over a network.
  • As a result of the missing Replay Cache feature, if you attempt to put a Mac to sleep during a backup, it will LOCK UP HARD. This is obviously a bug in MacOS, but it nevertheless eliminates Netatalk as a viable solution for Time Machine.
I've experimented with trying to use NFS for TM backups, but I couldn't get it to work. For one thing, even if you advertize the share using Zeroconf/Bonjour, MacOS won't see it. It worked with Tiger, but it's been broken ever since, so I think this is intentional.

If you manually mount the NFS share, TM will see it (if you have unsupported volumes enabled) at the time you have it mounted and let you select it for backup, but it is unable automatically mount it later when it's time to do a regularly scheduled backup. (Just 'Making backup disk available...' indefinitely.) If you're on a desktop Mac, you can use automount for NFS, but this isn't a solution for portables. MacOS's support for SMB is buggy and slow, but it's easy to setup and seems to be the only viable alternative to AFP. Therefore, the rest of this hint covers using a SMB server (Linux or Windows) to store Time Machine backups.

In my experience, if you want to use a non-Apple server for TM, and you want the share to mount and unmount on demand, then SMB is your only viable option. If you google this, you'll find warnings (mostly from around 2008) to never use SMB for TM shares. Back then, there was a bug in TM involving mismatches between the free space in the sparsebundle and the free space on the network volume. If your network volume filled, but your sparsebundle had free space, TM would get confused when trying to delete old backups to free space, and it would destroy the whole sparsebundle. This bug has long since been fixed. Now, the sparsebundle is resized automatically with the free space on the network volume, and it even works for SMB.

Enabling support for TM backups to unsupported network volumes

To begin with, SMB is an 'unsupported' network volume type, so you have to tell MacOS to let you see it for Time Machine purposes. Open a terminal, and type this command:

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

Creating the TM sparsebundle

When backing up over a network, Time Machine doesn't store files on the network volume directly. Instead, it encapsulates an HFS+ formatted file system volume in a shallow directory structure called a sparsebundle. Time Machine relies on some tricks, like hard-linked directories, that are unique to locally-mounted HFS+ volumes and not supported by any other system. Therefore, Apple opted to store an HFS+ volume in a container and make that container look like just a bunch of regular files, as far as the network drive is concerned. Unfortunately, you cannot just point TM at the SMB share and tell it to store the backup there. It will attempt to create the sparsebundle, but it will fail with an error due to missing features. Once you have a sparsebundle setup for TM, it will work fine over SMB, but you have to create it somewhere else first.

One way is to first point TM at an AFP share. You might use Netatalk, another Mac, or an AEBS with external drive. Follow these steps:
  • Mount the supported (AFP) network volume
  • In Time Machine preferences, choose "Select Disk..." and select that share.
  • Start the TM backup.
  • Wait until it's finished creating the sparsebundle and starts moving data. You'll see something like 'Backing up X KB of Y GB.'
  • Stop the backup.
  • Mount the SMB share.
  • Copy the sparsebundle to the SMB share. (Unnecessary if you use Netatalk and SMB to serve the same disk.)
  • In Time Machine preferences, choose 'Select Disk...' and select the SMB share.
You can also setup the sparsebundle manually, which you'll find in this hint.

Umounting backup volume on sleep

You're not done. MacOS support for SMB is poor, and anything but an Apple solution won't support the Replay Cache and Lock Stealing features that TM relies on. Storing a filesystem in a sparsebundle is simultaneously a brilliant and a horrible idea. See my rant below. If you put a Mac to sleep during a TM backup to an SMB share, it will disconnect, leaving the volume in an inconsistent state, and odds are, you'll completely destroy the backup volume. The solution is to configure your Mac to automatically unmount the backup volume on sleep. The backup process will notice the unmount request and close down gracefully. You'll be left with a partial backup, which TM will clean up later.

There are a number of web pages that explain how to do this, but this is my favorite one.

Some final rants regarding the horror that is Time Machine backups over network

Apple's Time Machine has the advantage of storing backups in a relatively transparent format. Granted, it's in HFS+ format, which makes it less than transparent to any other platform. But if you have your backup on an external drive, you can just mount the filesystem, and besides using the Time Machine UI, it's very simple to find your files using Finder. One of the tricks Apple pulled to keep incremental backups compact was to allow the use of hard-linked directories. If a subtree on your system has not changed since the last backup, then that subtree will appear in the latest backup via a hard link to the last place it was backed up to. Unfortunately, this trick came back to haunt Apple with the development of Time Capsule.

Since most network filesystems (AFP included) don't support hard-linked directories, Time Machine cannot just store the backup directly on the network volume. Instead, they encapsulate the backup in a virtual disk called a sparsebundle. To the network server, the sparsebundle appears as a directory structure containing a large number of 8MiB files. These 8MiB 'bands' are just segments of the virtual disk, like tracks on a hard disk. The virtual disk is then formatted internally as an HFS+ filesystem, which can then store hard-linked directories with impunity. Although the data is transferred over the network, the HFS+ volume is mounted 'locally' on the Mac, so it can organize file and directory structures independently of network filesystem restrictions. This works well, until you encounter a network problem. If you're in the middle of writing a file to a network share, and the network disconnects, the server can handle it gracefully and leave the filesystem in a consistent state.

On the other hand, if you're in the middle of writing a file to a sparsebundle mounted over a network share, the server has no concept of what is file data and what is metadata, and MacOS may be writing those out of order. Disconnecting while writing to a sparsebundle is like pulling the plug on a hard disk while it's being written to. Even with a journaling filesystem, things can go wrong, resulting in data loss and filesystem corruption. Not surprisingly, corruption of the backup has been a significant problem in the past for Time Capsule users, most commonly when a notebook is put to sleep during a backup and woken up on another network. Most recent versions of AFP have added features to work around some of these problems, but features like TM Lock Stealing and Server Replay Cache are just kludges that work around fundamental design problems.

Apple's desire to make their backup format transparent have lead to reliability problems, and the irony is that unless you're using a Mac, an HFS+ volume inside of a sparsebundle isn't really all that transparent.

[crarko adds: A good summary of the state of affairs, and some good tips about the SMB shares. I've used several of the Apple-type solutions for network Time Machine backups, including Time Capsule, Xserve hosting, and USB drives connected to an Airport Extreme. I never really like any of them, and had similar issues to the author's in working with them. In the end, I've concluded that I'll use Time Machine with a directly connected backup device, and something like SuperDuper for networked volume backups. Feel free to put other favorite methods in the comments.]
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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: robleach on Apr 08, '11 08:12:32AM

My time capsule died twice on me and I got it replaced under the apple care protection plan. Now that my plan has run out, I'm expecting the drive to die sometime this year or next and I will *not* get another one. My computer is a backup for it, not the other way around!



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: outer on Apr 11, '11 05:23:43PM

I've had a late-model (2010) TC for several months now with no problems. Heeding the warnings of early-model burn outs (eerily familiar to Model 1 Graphite Airport base station failures), from day one it's been mounted on little-baby-buggy-bumpers (rubber feet) in order to increase the underneath ventilation clearance. I'll see if it makes it past 18 months!



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: robleach on Apr 12, '11 07:30:32AM

My first one was the model Apple acknowledged problems with. I put the second one on a rack to help circulate air and in didn't even last as long as the first one (less than a year) and it was a later version where the problem was supposed to have been fixed. I even had the heavy-network-using computers hooked up over ethernet cables to reduce the wireless usage. I don't know the model numbers. All I know is that the genius that looked at it told me the second one I had was not supposed to have had this problem. The third one I'm on is on the rack too and it's supposed to be the same exact model as the second one.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: deemery on Apr 08, '11 08:16:23AM

A couple other notes:
1. TimeMachine and FileVault do NOT play well together. I hope this gets fixed in Lion with its support for full disk encryption.

2. What I do is back up my laptop EXCEPT for my (FileVault encrypted) home directory to a FW800 external drive. On that drive, I also have an encrypted disk image (sparsebundle). I have a nightly backup task (I used to use Synk but they changed their approach, now I'm using Super Flexible File Synchronizer) that mounts the encrypted image, duplicates my home directory to that image, and then unmounts the encrypted image.

I also have a Mini Server and Mobile accounts. Every 8 hours, my laptop's home directory synchs with the Mini Server. That server is then backed up using TimeMachine to a local (to that server) external drive. When this works, I can restore a file from the Time Machine on the Mini Server and then resynch with the laptop. However, mobile account synching has been a real disappointment in terms of reliability AND performance.

This gives me 2 independent back-ups, using two independent applications, pieces of hardware, etc. Even with all this redundancy, I've still had problems when both backup systems quietly failed due to unrelated system configuration problems.

TimeMachine is great when it works, and so is Server mobile account syncing. Unfortunately that "when it works" caveat is significant.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: afingal on Apr 08, '11 02:08:26PM

I haven't had a problem with Time Machine and File Vault. Using sparsebundles for the underlying storage of File Vault is the most elegant solution I have seen to incrementally back up encrypted data and it's been working just fine for me. I would have to admit, however, that I haven't really had enough incidents where I needed to restore data to seriously test the Time Machine / File Vault combo.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: diamondsw on Apr 08, '11 08:24:37AM

I've been using a 1TB Time Capsule since the very first ones shipped. I later upgraded it myself to a 2TB drive (it's fairly easy to open, and the TC will format the drive properly on first boot). There were some first-gen failures, specifically with the power supplies failing around 18 months. Knock on wood, mine's been going years with nary a problem.

It gets slightly warm when running a backup, and is cool the rest of the time. That was with the original hard drive and the replacement I've installed. This is with three computers backing up to it, so it's plenty busy.

I've had no problems with network-based Time Machine. It's slow - but that's the only thing bad I can say, Honestly, it's the only way to back up, as it's the only zero-friction drop-dead-simple solution there is. Anything that requires effort won't get done - my mother-in-law is a sad example, who never connected her backup drive after setting up Time Machine. And guess who forgot her FileVault password... :-(



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: tc_nyc on Apr 08, '11 08:28:36AM
In the section "Apple Server" I expected to see some detail on how OS X Server has options specific to Time Machine clients and how it directly supports numerous OS X clients seamlessly. Instead I read a rant on how Apple has discontinued the XServe product and that a lone rebel could "set up a Mac Pro with some huge drives crammed in it and hope it works reliably as a server". This post is a great primer on Time Machine for those who are curious on the inner workings, but sheesh... it's not like Apple doesn't sell software and hardware today that explicitly works with Time Machine clients.

For example, I have numerous clients with servers that back up many Time Machine clients seamlessly every day. One of them (gasp!) is a Mac Pro with 8 external SATA drives connected to a PCI host card striped as a RAID. Magic!

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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: neuralstatic on Apr 08, '11 09:11:54AM

exactly. or throw a single 2tb firewire drive on mac server OR client and share it out. lack of xserve really has no impact on running tm on a server (or client).



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: Makosuke on Apr 12, '11 01:26:03AM

Indeed. Just because Apple doesn't offer a 1U rackmount server doesn't mean that there's no options for networked backups on a moderately large scale. A Mac Pro-based server might not cut it if you need a datacenter with full-height 42U racks stuffed with SAS drives, but if all it's doing is Time Machine serving one could easily support a few dozen TB of RAID1 or RAID5 volumes, which is enough to support a decent-sized workgroup of backups.

Or, if you're only backing up a dozen or two clients, a Mini server with a 2 or 4 drive RAID array connected via FW800 isn't at all a bad solution--cheap and effective. I replaced our G5 XServe with one of these when it died.

OR... if you're a home user, you can do what I do and just run a NON server Mini as a fileserver. Time Machine will gladly back up to volumes mounted from even a client MacOSX box, and that's how my iMac and MBP are backed up--two partitions on an external on a two-generation-old non-server Mini shared over the network.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: BoxOfSnoo on Apr 08, '11 08:50:09AM

I know this is pedantic. But will someone please replace HSF+ for HFS+ in the article? It's driving me crazy... :)



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: crarko on Apr 08, '11 11:54:40AM

Got it...



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[off-topic] warranty loss?
Authored by: tempel on Apr 08, '11 09:08:22AM

I do NOT believe that opening a Time Capsule to remove the disk can void the warranty. That's just a scare tactic. Even Apple can't guarantee that the private data on your drive won't be looked at by anyone when you send it in for service, and hence they can't forbid you to remove the disk if you send it in for service (provided the disk isn't the faulty part).

I've had discussion with Apple on this before, sending in my portables, and they'd never denied warranty when I sent it in without a drive. All they claimed was that they could not guarantee that all parts would work when sending it back since they could not test the disk. So what.

Edited on Apr 08, '11 09:09:01AM by tempel



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: phountinhed on Apr 08, '11 09:26:40AM

I have been using a ReadyNAS NV+ for my Time Machine backups without any problems. It uses netatalk but I have not seen any problems with hard lockups. I am backing up a 2007 Macbook Pro and a 2008 iMac.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: JMoVS on Apr 08, '11 09:32:29AM

One solution should be edited, because the information is false. I just set up a Lacie Wireless Space as TM. It is officially supported by Lacie and works very flawelessly since I did this. So there are other options than the TC, and a lot cheaper together with a better thought of cooling system.
Also, there is the option of a lot of seagate NAS-storages. Almost all support Time Machine.
So you should add this to the tip that there are cheaper and better more sophisticated solutions than the time capsule!



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: haralds on Apr 08, '11 09:44:21AM

I suspect the LaCie uses SMB, and not AFP/HFS+. You are at risk of corruption in longer term use.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: JMoVS on Apr 10, '11 03:01:56AM

no,
I looked it up. It uses afp and the volumes are showing up in the volume selction of Time Machine. I DON'T have to write thing like the "showunsupported..." into the terminal, it just works. It is natively supported and creates the typical sparsebundle like the TC also does when you use it.
As I said before, Lacie natively supports it and also some trustworthy mac magazines here in germany testetd it too and restore worked flawelesly for them.
And it don't use smb for share, I know that for sure, it uses afp with native support for TM and internally creates a sparsebundle therefore.
Hope this helps! ;-)



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Network reliability issue confirmed...
Authored by: haralds on Apr 08, '11 09:42:37AM

I have been using TimeMachine since it came out.
MacBooks throughout the house are backed up on a Time Capsule - seems to work fine.

But I have tried various schemes to back up my Mac Pro, which has six terabytes of space, and is the iTunes/Photoshare server in the house. I finally had to resort to an attached drive solution, which due to its two terabytes limit has issues. I use ChronoSync to back up iTunes changes to a RoboShare - slow.

I have tried various networked servers, but the combination of networked drives (SMB) and a large file system has always resulted for me in a virtual volume corruption after a few weeks. None of the available tools seem to be able to recover those corruptions.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: HayoBaan on Apr 08, '11 12:38:00PM

As most internet sources I've read on this subject, the author forgot one important option that is available to you:

The ability to use timemachine over the network to backup to any drive (external, internal) attached to another Mac. Mac OS X supports this out of the box (at least it does with Snow Leopard) without any "work-arounds" or kludges.

We use this in our business to backup our laptops to our Mac Pro. Works like a charm, even over our (slow) wireless network.

Regards,
Hayo Baan



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: JMoVS on Apr 10, '11 03:04:04AM

could you explain how you do this?



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: HayoBaan on Apr 10, '11 12:55:09PM

It is really simple.

Lets call the Mac that has the drive you want to backup to the "Server"
Lets call the Mac you want to backup to that drive "Client"

1. On the client connect to the shared drive on the server you want to use for time machine. (you only need to do this once!)
2. On the client open the time machine preferences
3. Click "select disk"
4. From the list of available drives, choose the shared drive.
5. Set any further time machine options (e.g., folders to exclude)
6. Backup should automatically start in 120 seconds, or you can force it to start by selecting "backup now".
7. The first backup will likely take a long time and I advice you to have it on a wired network connection to improve speed.

From now on Timemachine will do its magic and backup your machine automatically when it can connect to your server.

Note that after the initial setup and backup you no longer need the connection to the shared drive on the server so you can eject it.

Hope this helps,
Hayo Baan



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: JMoVS on Apr 11, '11 08:37:19AM

Thanks, but setting it up in the preferences isn't the problem.
My questions are:
1. Does it have to be a whole drive? Can it be a folder?
2. Is it the simple act of adding this (drive/folder) to the "shared" settings in system preferences? (To proceed with the next step of connecting...)?



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: HayoBaan on Apr 11, '11 08:41:07AM

I haven't tried this, but I *think* it can be a folder too.
It should be easy to try this out, just connect to the shared folder and see if it shows up as a choice. If so, you can assume it is supported this way.

I'd like to know if it works or not, so please post your findings here :-)



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: JMoVS on Apr 11, '11 09:30:31AM

What do I have to setup exactly? Because, curiously, I can't get access to my MBP from the other MBA. It want's me to "authenticate" and without option to authenticate via Guest?! When I enter Guest, it asks me for a Kerberos-key??? WTF?
I can't even access my shared folder.
I set up all rights to everyone for my shared folders.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: HayoBaan on Apr 11, '11 10:18:44AM

I don't really know why you can't access the shared folder but it is very likely you simply do not have the rights to access it as guest. I would check the settings at your "server".

Unless you can access the folder from your "client", there is no way you can backup to it of course ;-)

Hope you get this sorted,
Hayo



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: JMoVS on Apr 11, '11 11:01:45AM

Hi,
so I got access(with some tricks AND AFERWARDS figured out why I wasn't able to login as guest:) ), but it seems to me that you can't backup to a folder on a remote mac. What could work, or I think would really work is if you mounted a proper sparsebundle on the server mac and then share the virtual volume.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: HayoBaan on Apr 11, '11 12:09:08PM

Ok, so if it is just a shared folder, it doesn't show up in the list of available drives?

Hmm, come to think of it, "backup disk" kinda says it all actually. Should have thought about that when I answered you earlier.

Anyway, now you've got your access sorted, is there a reason you can't share the drive for this purpose? Time Machine will create s separate file (sparsebundle) for it so should be easily identifiable and safe. If necessary you can have access to the drive restricted to a single user (just authenticate with that user when you connect to it on your client and have it remember the password).

Oh, and I'm pretty sure that the volume (disk) needs to have the hfs+ filesystem with ownership enabled, shared using afp.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: JMoVS on Apr 11, '11 12:13:57PM

no,
I for myself actually use a USB-Drive, and my father's MBA use the Lacie Wireless Space which natively and correctly supports TM (as mentioned in some other comment by me above). I just didn't know that there was this possibility of sharing a drive on the one mac and using it as a backup on the other one. And now that I've got my permissions, I'm fine!
Anyway, Thanks! ;-)



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: geordie on Apr 08, '11 02:07:14PM

I have never had any issues with the backups to my time capsule and it has one thing going for it that the direct attached storage doesn't. Whether I am using my laptop at the kitchen table, on the couch in the living room or in my office; without fail a backup occurs every hour. To me that is way more important than anything else. A backup that has occurred is of infinitely more value than one that hasn't.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: afingal on Apr 08, '11 02:10:45PM

Another pedantic point... Xserve was not a blade server. It was a 1U server.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: matyas.ka on Apr 08, '11 03:08:31PM

Out of curiosity, I noticed that since netatalk support AFP v.3.3 in the beta version 2.2-beta4(released on the 8th of April 2011). AFP v.3.3 mandatessupport for Replay Cache functionality, so now netatalk should support a "robust network disconnect/reconnect, especially important for Time Machine".

Have anyone tried the new beta release?

All the best,
Matyas



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: chesterdkat on Apr 12, '11 08:00:35AM

I'm using Ubuntu 10.04 with Netatalk version 2.0.5-3 and it seems super reliable. I backup 3 Mac's to it and two are MacBook Pro's via WiFi.

The points about "Replay Cache or TM Lock Stealing" missing in Netatalk are well taken.

I moved my backups from my Time Capsule to the Ubuntu server about 6 weeks ago when I had a corrupt backup that I could not remove except by reformatting the Time Capsule disk. I've followed the various articles about Time Capsules lasting about 18 months on average and mine is a few months older than that so I'm now hesitant to move back to it.

Good article! I'll watch as replies are posted...



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The Mac Mini is the Solution Here
Authored by: chucky23 on Apr 08, '11 04:02:51PM

I've found an always on base-equipped Mac Mini running non-server Snow Leopard hooked up to an external FW drive handles multiple wireless TM clients with perfect reliability and no hitches.

And, of course, an always-on Mini provides multiple other Home / Small Office serving functions.

If you're supporting fewer than 10 clients, I'd say a Mini is a cheap way to get it all done. Much better value than a Time Capsule.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: BiL Castine on Apr 09, '11 05:44:48AM

If you're in a corporate environment with Windows servers, you may already know about ExtremeZ-IPfrom Group Logic. For everyone else, it's a AFP server for Windows Servers. This software eliminates any SMB issues and provides native file and print services to Macs on the network. It fully supports Time Machine backup of workstations, Mac network home directories including automatic synchronization and Kerberos. As a Mac admin in a Windows environment, I strongly recommend this product. (I am not affiliated)



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: TonyT on Apr 09, '11 03:45:20PM

>You just have to make sure that the desktop is awake whenever you
>want to backup the notebook, which is only slightly more convenient
>than just plugging the notebook into its own backup drive.

Not really. I use a Mac mini as a wireless server to my MacBook Air (with an external drive attached to the mini). The MBA Time Machine will send a WOL to the mini and the backup will occur, and after the backup, the TM Drive is automatically detached, and then the mini will go back to sleep (based on the Energy Settings in the mini). All without user intervention.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: chucky23 on Apr 11, '11 09:24:26AM
"I use a Mac mini as a wireless server to my MacBook Air (with an external drive attached to the mini). "

Yup. This is really the way to go.

A base equipped Mini with an external drive is a cheap and easy way of getting LAN Time Machine backups, whether you have 1 client or 5 clients.

Just considering the additional use you can get out of a Mini, it's much better value than a Time Capsule. And you get a more reliable backup system in the bargain.

"The MBA Time Machine will send a WOL to the mini and the backup will occur, and after the backup, the TM Drive is automatically detached, and then the mini will go back to sleep (based on the Energy Settings in the mini). All without user intervention."

This is true, but only if you have an all modern Airport Extreme LAN.

I use non-Apple commodity network hardware, so I don't get Wake On LAN with my Mini. But I leave the Mini on 24/7 by design. It's silent and energy efficient. I think of it as a router.

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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: everkleer80 on Apr 15, '11 07:19:46PM
This is true, but only if you have an all modern Airport Extreme LAN.
Actually you just need an Apple device anywhere on your network that was on when the Mac went to sleep; it doen't need to be your main router, and it doesn't necessarily need to be an Airport Extreme. For example, an Airport Express will work, I assume an Apple TV should work, and even another SL Mac (even the one trying to do the TM backup) will work as long as it was running when the server went to sleep.

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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: chucky23 on Apr 16, '11 10:13:19AM

Thanks for the tip, everkleer80. I did not know that.

It still won't help me, both because my Mini is an Early-2009 model that doesn't support WOL in hardware, (at least, to the best of my knowledge), and because I'd still have to run my Mini 24/7 for reasons beyond just TM backups.

But it is good to know.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: leamanc on Apr 09, '11 06:09:55PM

I dunno...we use Netatalk for a pretty large number of Time Machine clients. Never ran into the authentication failure problem. Never had a Mac lock up during a backup either. That may be because we've trained people to click the "x" to stop backing up before going off the network, putting the Mac to sleep or shutting down.



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Several networked and non-networked options for Time Machine backups
Authored by: jelockwood on Apr 11, '11 04:11:12AM

For what its worth I regularly got the same authentication failures with a ReadyNAS NV+ but hardly ever get them with a ReadyNAS Pro. This might be due to the fact the NV+ being a Sparc system has an older and apparently no longer as well supported firmware compared to the Pro which is an Intel system and has the very latest firmware. The other possibility is the NV+ has less memory and a slower CPU.

Anyway, the upshot is that network Time Machine backups work fine on the Pro with very rare instances of authentication failure. Unlike the Drobo it works exactly like an Apple system with no need to do any special tricks.

It should be noted that at least on their newer (Intel) based servers, NetGear's ReadyNAS typically has a much newer release of NetAtalk than most of its competitors, see http://www.netafp.com/status-of-netatalk-and-afp-support-by-nas-vendor-322/



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