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Tue Sep 25, 2012, 01:54 PM

Time Machine backup problems

Anyone else having these? Time Machine stalls either very early in the process or very late in the backup process. After checking many possibilities (bad backup drives, bad FireWire connector, Mac hard drive errors) I surmised that a recent Software Update (OS to 10.7.5, iTunes?, Safari, Microsoft Office) may contain a glitch. I called Apple and they asked me to send them some diagnostic info that allegedly their engineers are examining. They said other users have reported some Time Machine issues but were not clear about whether they were the same as mine.

Still no answer from Apple's engineers yet. I'm getting nervous because one of our Macs is old and the drive could go at any time so we like to keep the backups current (had a crash several years ago with only partial backups and wasted a lot of time), but realize I can't do anything but wait. I was just curious and/or wanted to warn people to watch out for this.

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Response to spooky3 (Original post)

Tue Sep 25, 2012, 05:59 PM

1. I was having Time Machine issues, and it turned out that my backup drive

was too small for the amount of data I had.

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Response to spooky3 (Original post)

Tue Sep 25, 2012, 08:16 PM

2. Thanks. Unfortunately, that's not the case for me.

There's plenty of space for incremental backups--have used one machine with one drive and the other machine with two drives for > a year (with automatic deletions after a certain period) and had no problems until last week, when BOTH Macs had problems with these drives, and with a new drive I had bought when I was hoping that the problem was drives going bad.

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Response to spooky3 (Original post)

Fri Sep 28, 2012, 08:36 PM

3. Not sure if this will help anyone, but apparently the problem lies with OS 10.7.5 (recently updated)

Users are talking about it here:


The fix proposed there worked for some but didn't work for me.

Still no solution from Apple.

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Response to spooky3 (Original post)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 11:57 AM

4. Stop using Time Machine.

Erase your backup drive and use it as a target drive for Carbon Copy Cloner. It's a free, slick drive mirroring program - it makes a perfect, bit-for-bit copy of one drive onto another. If your primary drive fails, you literally put a new one in, boot off your backup since it's a clone of your main drive, OS and all, and carbon copy back to the new drive. It can be automated to backup on your chosen schedule; it's not QUITE as integrated as Time Machine and lacks some candy like the selective rollbacks, but for a simple, efficient backup system it's probably the best there is

ed - I just noticed the little line at the bottom saying CCC is now commercial, $40. I guess it depends on how badly you want backups...or you can teach yourself how to use Terminal to schedule a cron job that runs dd to clone your primary to the backup, since that's basically what CCC does.

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Response to sir pball (Reply #4)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 12:35 PM

5. I'll second your endorsement of CC. I paid the $40 to put it on our new iMac

Last edited Mon Oct 1, 2012, 01:23 PM - Edit history (1)

Worth every penny.

I still use Time Machine, though.

We use a lot of backup. My MacPro is my main machine. I do a CC to an external drive and an internal drive. I also do a Time Machine to an internal machine. If one drive fails, it can boot to the other and not miss a step. The Time Machine allows me to dial back a file to an earlier version if I somehow hose it.

I also CC my data files to yet another drive here in the office.

Once a week, I CC that local remote drive to a drive connected to my partner's machine in another city. If a volcano were to erupt and swallow us, that drive will still be functional and bootable.

We also use SugarSync to backup and share the project files we're actually working on.

edit to add: We use Time Machine and CC on all our machines. Only my MacPro gets the belt, suspenders, and safety pins of multiple redundant back-up schemes.

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Response to Stinky The Clown (Reply #5)

Fri Oct 5, 2012, 07:10 PM

6. Apple has finally issued an update to 10.7.5 to fix the Time Machine/Spotlight issue.

Haven't tried it yet, because their screwup ruined three backup drives (one for one Mac and two for another), so it will take a long time to back up from scratch.

Users can download it from Software Update.

I will definitely investigate CC. Thanks to you both.

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Response to spooky3 (Reply #6)

Sat Oct 6, 2012, 09:35 AM

7. Are you comfortable with the commandline?

If you are, or are interested in becoming (it's an incredibly useful skillset to have on OSX), here's a quick tutorial on using launchd to schedule a repeating task. All you'd need to set would be "sudo dd if=<startup disk> of=<backup disk>" to run however often you'd like; that's essentially all CCC does, just with a pretty frontend. Cheers!

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Response to sir pball (Reply #7)

Sat Oct 6, 2012, 11:11 PM

8. dd isn't what I'd suggest for backups

A dd backup of the disk is going to make a block-copy of the entire thing. Great if what you want is an exact backup of the volume (in case of drive failure) but not very efficient at saving lots of copies of your data going back weeks or months.

One thing that time machine buys you (when it works) is that it does a pretty good job of making lots of copies of the data that's changing, and not many copies of stuff that's unchanged.

I.e. how many backup copies of /Applications/ do you need? How many drafts of your new novel? Or backups of those files you trashed last week and now realize you want back?

Personally I like time-machine, especially with its new ability to specify multiple destinations (i.e. you can create multiple backup sets with a little effort).

Just my two-cents, though I've been an Unix admin/developer since 1980. And (full disclosure), I happen to work for a company named after a fruit, but not on time-machine.

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Response to guyton (Reply #8)

Sun Oct 7, 2012, 05:42 PM

9. You aren't necessarily making multiple copies

If you toss an mkfs in before you dd to the same target drive every time you aren't making multiple copies, just one latest copy. That's what I grew up with (straight nightlies to tape, a simple cron job actually - our admin insisted "simple is best") so I learned to just save copies of my data if I thought I might need to roll back. If I didn't make a copy, or I trashed a file, it was gone and oh well shouldn't have done that.

I get Time Machine, I use it, I like it - but I'm still in the "save a copy" and "Empty Trash is forever" mindset. Never actually used it to roll back, just to copy my stuff from my G4 that one time. I also much prefer H-gate manual transmissions over flappy-boxes and especially slush-o-matics if that says anything..

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