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10.7: Enable Time Machine on unsupported network drives System 10.7
Changes in network protocols in Lion broke Time Machine access to some legacy network drives. This hint shows how to restore it.

As I discovered with dismay Apple implemented a new version of networking protocols in Lion, which made that my network drive could no longer be accessed via Time Machine. Apple published a work-around for devices using AFP, see this KB article for that procedure.

In my case this did not help as I was accessing the network drive via SMB. Finally I found yesterday the following site which published a method which allows you to use Time Machine with legacy SMB services. I made my first Time Machine back-up last night and it worked. Here is the link.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. I looked over the SMB method given at the linked site and it involves replacing the Apple backupd library with a custom-made version. There's source code available so you can build it yourself, if you wish. Comments to the post have indicated pretty good success, and the author seems to be responsive to questions. Nevertheless, if you're not comfortable with low-level system hacking and have a full known good backup, you should proceed with extreme caution.]
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10.7: Enable Time Machine on unsupported network drives | 8 comments | Create New Account
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10.7: Enable Time Machine on unsupported network drives
Authored by: regulus on Sep 20, '11 08:00:10AM

Here's an alternate solution I posted about a month ago. I have a netgear stora NAS which wouldn't work under Lion. I found that there is a command line utility in 10.7 for Time Machine and it is possible to use that to make smb or afp mounted external drives work with Time Machine. The solution I posted even shows how to create a sparse disk image to hold time machine backups and how to set size limits for that so you don't fill up your entire drive with backups.

See post #24 here for my solution:


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10.7: Enable Time Machine on unsupported network drives
Authored by: Anonymous on Sep 20, '11 10:16:26AM

You mean here?

To summarise: Create a sparse disk image on the backup disk, mount it, then use "tmutil" to set the mounted sparse image as the destination for Time Machine.

I've changed the detail a bit to take out the unnecessary steps. I don't have a Mac here at work, and I don't have a network drive to test it with, but here you go anyway:

1. Mount the remote volume. In Finder, "Connect to server" and enter "smb://Remote/", substituting the hostname of your remote disk. I'm going to assume it mounts as "/Volumes/Remote" too.

2. Open a Terminal and type the following commands:
a. hdiutil create -size 300g -library SPUD -fs HFS+J -type SPARSEBUNDLE -volname "Backup" /Volumes/Remote/backupvolume.sparsebundle

b. defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

c. open /Volumes/Remote/backupvolume.sparsebundle

d. sudo tmutil setdestination -p /Volumes/Backup

I'm sure we can replace step #1 with a shell command, making this entirely scriptable.

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10.7: Enable Time Machine on unsupported network drives
Authored by: regulus on Sep 20, '11 02:29:03PM

Yep, that's it. The only thing I would change from your summary is step 2a. You are creating the sparse bundle directly on the external drive. For my NAS I couldn't. I was getting errors. I had to create the sparse bundle on the local drive and then copy it to the remote drive. Everything else looks good.


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10.7: Enable Time Machine on unsupported network drives
Authored by: Anonymous on Sep 21, '11 12:53:55PM

Very interesting. I was aiming to skip the "copy" stage because it seemed unnecessary.

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10.7: Enable Time Machine on unsupported network drives
Authored by: everkleer80 on Sep 27, '11 12:27:33PM

I can also confirm that the copy is needed (at least for my Linksys router's SMB share.) In fact I suspect that's part of the reason you can't set up TM directly on these shares anymore.

I hadn't really paid much attention to these posts and just tried following the steps outlined here (without the copy) and kept getting an error saying the sparsebundle couldn't be created. Finally I realized on my own that maybe I could create the file locally and copy it over... so it would have saved me about an hour of troubleshooting if I'd read everything here first!

But either way, thanks for the info - I started crying when I found out that I couldn't use my NAS with TM!

PS. I think this should be listed as either it's own hint, or at least highlighted as a recommended alternative to this hint. I did not want to go replacing any System files like Craig mentioned you had to do (I didn't even bother looking at the link after I read that) and this is a very easy to understand solution that seems a lot less likely to break in a System Update.

Edited on Sep 27, '11 12:34:41PM by everkleer80

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Also, update your server software
Authored by: lullabud on Sep 20, '11 10:24:02AM

Another option that doesn't involve lowering your security is to check if there is updated software for your unsupported drives. For instance, I know that FreeNAS 8 didn't have support for Lion, but 8.0.1 does.

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Tried it. No Joy.
Authored by: gxw on Sep 20, '11 12:18:50PM

Tried the script linked in the article. No Joy.
Have a Seagate NAS 440.

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10.7: Enable Time Machine on unsupported network drives
Authored by: dbs on Sep 20, '11 10:51:33PM

Hacking time machine to back up to unsupported devices is possibly very foolish. The last thing you want to do is risk the integrity of your backup. (After all, the point of time machine is to keep your data safe.) If SMB servers are not supported because they don't have the required flushing protocol (the ability to verify that data has been written to the disk image to avoid corruption) then hacking things to make it "work" will run the very real risk of corrupting your whole backup if there is a network interruption.

Given how difficult it has been for Apple to get their own network backup system (Time Capsule) working reliably, I would be very, very wary of trusting a hack for a third party device.

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