We have a terabyte Time Capsule which backs up Lauren’s MacBook and mine, and basically, it works; I’ve already recovered from one nasty disk blow-up and a couple of “error between keyboard and chair” data loss events. But the cost is becoming very high; it seems like whenever I’m on the home network, it’s endlessly either “Preparing Backup” or “Finishing Backup”, to the accompaniment of pumping fans. And it makes suspend/resume problematic, too; there seem several points in the Time Machine work cycle where, if you suspend, and if you have password-to-wakeup on (as everyone should), you’re looking at the endless beachball. I think I’m not the only one, based on the online rumbles.


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From: Erik Bruchez (Nov 09 2008, at 23:20)


My experience is similar. I was at the point where "hourly" backups took more than an hour of resource intensive processing.

I have now given up on those and I start a backup manually once in a while, which is not satisfying either. If at least you could configure Time Machine to backup once a day... You can actually tweak settings from the command line to achieve this, but that tends to be reset automatically for some reason.

The bottom line is that Time Machine doesn't work for me at this point and I hope that Apple improves it.



From: Sam Pullara (Nov 10 2008, at 00:16)

I find it to be annoyingly expensive as well. Instead I use a more complicated efficient solution:




From: Tim Trautmann (Nov 10 2008, at 00:26)

Same issues here. Backups take a long while using a huge chunk of system resources. At times the "mds" process eats up 400MB+ of system memory.

It would really be nice if one could throttle backups to different intervals. Every 6 hours would work for me.


From: Eric (Nov 10 2008, at 00:29)

I got some relief by adding certain directories to the ignored directory list for time machine--stuff that changes often or that I don't really need backed up for some other reason (podcasts, ~/Downloads, /opt, xcode temporary files directory, etc).

Another thing that helps is to remove backup drives from spotlight indexing, for some reason they are indexed, and I surely don't understand why anyone would want this. This ends up eating a lot of I/O when each newly backed up file is indexed.


From: CraigM (Nov 10 2008, at 01:14)

I found some relief by lowering the occurence of backup cycles, 1 hr intervals were too frequent in daily use and I've settled on 3hr (or 6hr) cycles. If I'm working exclusively at the laptop I find a 3hr cycle picks up most of the document production, system changes, etc adequately. My source code, notes (in ASCII Markdown format) are protected by SVN/Git anyway.

You may like to try a nice piece of freeware, TimeMachineEditor (http://timesoftware.free.fr/timemachineeditor/), which gives a very convenient way to vary the plist settings for TimeMachine including fixed calendar intervals if they better suit your work style.

I've now got the best working regime I think I've ever had for backup, with constant time machine backups to Time Capsule, when at home (in WiFi range), offsite SVN hosting of my documents and monthly SuperDuper clones of drives. I've decided that just after my monthly cloning of the drives (which is a few hours run overnight), I have SuperDuper execute a script on completition to re-index the drive with Spotlight from scratch. Since that point, I've not had any great issues and by the next morning my system is set for another month ...




From: Henri Sivonen (Nov 10 2008, at 01:19)

I got fed up with Time Machine last week when an improper shutdown that corrupted the boot volume corrupted the Time Machine volume, too. The backup file system should be managed by a different kernel, so I ordered a NAS (which has not arrived yet, so I can’t say if it was a smart thing to do).

I couldn’t find exactly the kind of NAS that I want (http://hsivonen.iki.fi/nas/). It seems that Sun has the major technology component (ZFS) that I’d want to see in a home office NAS. Unfortunately, Sun seems to target only bigger operations with products that store way more data than a terabyte and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

I travel with my laptop two or three times a year, so the home directory on NAS setup would work for me most of the time. For people who travel more, the setup I outlined would probably need a mechanism that automatically syncs the NAS home directory and the FileVault home directory.


From: Attila Szegedi (Nov 10 2008, at 01:58)

I had this about a month ago -- TM was stuck on Preparing Backup.

Now, I have two Macs backing up over wifi, and this happened when the backup drive got full. TM will delete older backups to create space, but a TM process running on one machine only deletes backups for that machine. If backups of machine A ate away the free space on the backup drive, the machine B will helplessly be stuck trying to backup as it can't delete backups of A.

It's especially vicious if B would need to do a bigger backup, say 3-4 GB, while the machine A does small incremental backups of few MB. TM running on A will then not delete its own older backups, as it has enough space to continue, but machine B is still helpless.

What you can do is delete some older backups for machine A manually, then compact its sparsebundle from command line, see this Apple discussion forum thread that I initiated when I run into this:


Seems like people with multiple Macs being backed up are starting to hit this as their Time Capsules fill up :-)


From: Kristofer (Nov 10 2008, at 02:09)

Don't know if any of these articles can help in figuring out why the backups are taking so long.

Stalling backups:


What is backed up:



From: Stuart Dootson (Nov 10 2008, at 03:12)

I had a backup solution I was happy with before Leopard, so I never jumped onto the Time Machine train.

I just use rsync to backup the data I care about to a D-Link NAS. Thats about 20GB of photos, music, documents, code - so, most of ~ really! I guess I could backup things I've installed using MacPorts and the like (the GHC 6.10.1 build I did this weekend springs to mind - my iBook really took its time over that).

The backup process takes around a minute to detect changes and then time to copy changed things on top of that. It's not versioned, but for my data, that's really not a problem - I've got git for that where I need it.


From: Steve Dieringer (Nov 10 2008, at 03:49)

Tim, I found the following article very useful - using Grand Perspective showed me which files were gumming things up.


Once I eliminated a few files TM runs very quickly.

BTW, I use the original version of GP - the newer ones don't seem to work well with my config.


From: Stefano Delli Ponti (Nov 10 2008, at 04:45)

I also have some problems with Time Machine, especially on an old G4.

However consider this tool to customize the backup interval



From: Liam (Nov 10 2008, at 05:32)

So change when it runs.

Search for "time machine" scheduling :

The first link is http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2007/11/30/timemachinescheduler-puts-you-in-the-time-machine-drivers-seat


Cheers, Liam


From: Jim White (Nov 12 2008, at 11:07)

So far I've found that any trouble with Time Machine backups has been associated with mds sucking cycles and memory. Running a Disk Utility Repair has resolved the issue each time.

You should run repair periodically on both your backed up disks and the backup disk (I don't know how to do that for Time Capsule).

I think that the extensive use of file & directory linking makes Time Machine sensitive to disk problems that don't interfere with normal usage.


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