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What is wrong with my Time Machine backup drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by jrm27, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Hi all,

    I've been using Time Machine with an external 2TB drive for a while now (at least a year), without any problems. The other day when I came in, I had a notice on my screen that TM couldn't back up and that there was a problem with the drive.

    It appears that I no longer have write-access to the drive. When I go into the info, I don't even see my profile in the "sharing and permissions". Which seems odd. I get this message when my comp tries to read the drive:

    You can still open or copy files on the disk, but you can’t save changes to files on the disk. Back up the disk and reformat it as soon as you can.

    When I try and copy the backup file to another drive, so I can reformat my current TM drive, I get this message:

    The backup can’t be copied because the backup volume doesn’t have ownership enabled.

    Any thoughts on how I can fix this? I'd like to reformat the drive, but I don't want to lose the data backed up. Any thoughts? Thanks!
  2. macrumors 601


    Use /Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility on the disk and "Repair Permissions" on that Time Machine hard disk. See if that helps.
  3. macrumors 6502

    Hi satcomer,

    I should have included that I had already tried that. No dice. It tells me that I need to reformat the drive and to back up as much data from it as I can. Unfortunately, I can't back up anything from it as I cant copy the file to any other drive. Any thoughts?

  4. r0k
    macrumors 68040


    You have experienced the same phenomenon that convinced me Time Machine is not a good (only) backup solution. Assuming your original data is intact, delete the offending TM backup and start over. Yes you can no longer go back to the 2008 version of a particular file. I gave up on this capability years ago when Apple level 2 support instructed me to delete my old TM backup and start over when I was experiencing problems. It was about that time I started using an additional backup solution. My backup solutions include manual file copying, Crashplan, Carbon Copy Cloner and finally Time Machine.

    Please note that it is NOT necessary to copy the old backup. You can simply reformat the old drive, losing the backup file (which is likely corrupted anyway) and start over. The sooner you do this the sooner you can have a backup which is actually a backup. In fact, allow me to add you should unmount the "Time Machine Backups" that creates an icon on your desktop. Only then can you browse to the "sparsebundle" file and delete it. Only if you are unable to delete the old sparsebundle do you need to consider formatting the drive that contains it. When you use disk utility to test a TM backup, you are verifying the contents of a file/folder structure, not a real device. If the "parent" HDD is working properly, you should merely delete the old sparsebundle file and start over. It would be called something like "joe's mac.sparsebundle"
  5. macrumors 6502

    Thanks r0k. I've come to much the same conclusion myself. I signed up for Crashplan the other day and am in the process (long process) of backing up my most important files to it. I think I'd like to still keep a TM running just for duplicity's sake.

    I'm not sure what you mean about the "sparsebundle" though. is that something that is kept on my TM drive? What does it do? How would I go about finding it?
  6. r0k
    macrumors 68040


    Let's say you are backing up to a USB drive. During the backup, you see an icon called "Time Machine Backups" on your desktop. After the backup (clock stops spinning) the icon is gone. While the icon is gone, browse to the root folder of the drive you are backing up to and there is a rather large file called somethingorther.sparsebundle. A sparsebundle is basically a variable size dmg (disk image) file.

    Caution about Crashplan. I'm using it and I'm delighted with it but it relies on Java and Java keeps crashing on my Macbook Pro after the latest ML update. First of all, to keep Crashplan functioning, I had to contact their support so they could tell me how to re-enable Java 1.6 even though Apple insists we install Java 1.7. Second of all when I asked when they would start using "native" code, the response was they do plan to go native but there is no firm date yet.
  7. macrumors 601

    Change your backup utility from Time Machine to CarbonCopyCloner.

    Things will go much better.
  8. macrumors 6502

    What about the possibility of using both on the same external drive? I provisioned my 1 TB drive in half and was going to run TM to one half and CCC to the other. Obviously if the drive crashes I'd likely lose both kinds of backups, right? I figured every now and then I'd just copy a clone from the CCC half to a portable hard drive as a secondary backup.
  9. r0k
    macrumors 68040


    If you use CCC to copy files and folders rather than the entire disk, there is no reason your CCC and Time Machine backups cannot live on the same physical disk. I prefer to separate them so if the TM backup gets corrupted OR the disk on which the TM backup is stored dies, I've got some completely separate disk with a Crashplan or CCC backup on the thing.

    It is really not necessary to partition the disk and dedicate one partition to CCC and one partition to TM. I've heard that TM will "fill up" its destination disk but I've never experienced it and I've almost always had more than one TM backup going to a single disk or a TM backup coexisting with other data on the same physical disk.
  10. davidra, Jan 30, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013

    macrumors 6502

    But I do want a copy of the entire disk to boot from, which I gather I can't do with TM. It seemed an advantage to having both kinds of backups. I think that in the instructions for using CCC, there was a comment that in order to boot from the clone, there weren't supposed to be any other files on the drive, which is the only reason I re-provisioned it. But I'm a newbie so I could easily have misinterpreted what they suggested. Obviously since my external drive is 1.5 TB and the provisions are 750GTB each, I couldn't have a clone bigger than that, but that's some time off, I would think.
  11. r0k
    macrumors 68040


    I didn't realize you wanted a bootable clone. In that case yes you should dedicate a partition to CCC. You can then boot from that partition by holding option during boot and picking it from the drives that show up on your screen.

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