Learning about time machine the hard way... help needed.

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by joostwesterpark, Oct 6, 2014.

  1. joostwesterpark macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2014
    Dear people,

    I have created what might be an interesting problem. Bear with me, as there are a lot of things to mention:

    - Some years ago, I used to have a MacBook Pro for work. I backed it up using time machine, on an external USB harddrive.

    - Then I changed jobs. I got a new MacBook Pro. Instead of reconfiguring Time Machine I manually copied some important files to the external drive every now and then.

    - At some point I decided to get some cheap LiveDrive online storage. I cannot directly access it, but I have to use a very limited backup and restore tool from LiveDrive. I configured it to copy all the contents of the USD hard drive to it.

    - I changed jobs one more time, and my work computer is a PC now, plus I cannot use it for restoring personal files.

    - At home I have an iMac.

    - Of course I have lost the USB harddrive without restoring the files to the iMac first.

    - So I have an online backup with very restricted access containing some files and folders from MacBook no. 2, and a folder named backups.backupdb from Macbook no. 1.

    - I don't believe the latter is copied as it should have, I'm reading up about sparsebundles and the likes, and I don't think the online copy has that. I think it's a file level copy of backups.backupdb.

    - If I navigate the folders using LiveDrive's html interface, all manually copied folders are ok. The backups.backupdb folder structure seems intact, but all folders are empty.

    - If I tell the LiveDrive restore utility to restore the backups.backupdb folder, it starts indexing, which seems to last forever. I let it run for 4 hours and then stopped it.

    I need to know if my files are still there. The entire backup is 20 GB, but I can't tell how much is in the manually copied folders and how much in the time machine folders. I am waiting for an answer by my livedrive reseller, but these people are usually slow. What worries me is that livedrive potentially does not backup files bigger than 4 GB, and if my timemachine data is in some monster file, I've probably lost all of it, right?

    If there is a chance of my data being still there, waiting to be redistributed over the folder structure, I need to know how to get it to my iMac. Should I just wait for the process to finish? Or is it looping in some crazy way when trying to make sense of what I think are called hard links?

    Would another option be to have LiveDrive zip the entire backup and let me download it as one file?

    Is the fact that my backup is in a different file system going to ruin my chances?

    I was happily oblivious of all these dilemmas a couple of days ago, and felt proud that I had TWO backups of my data. Meh.

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. And no, I promise to not just copy these highly complex file structures around the internet in the future...
  2. joostwesterpark, Oct 6, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014

    joostwesterpark thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2014
    Invisible or just not interesting?

    Hmmm I notice my post gets no views at all. Am I doing something wrong? (sorry, newbie)

    EDIT: nothing wrong
  3. Sciuriware macrumors 6502


    Jan 4, 2014
    May be you will get answers if you rephrase your question to what's exactly your problem.
    It is known that TimeMachine from a laptop may not function well when
    the user is not aware of the 'smart' behaviour of the software.
  4. joostwesterpark thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2014

    Hi Joop, OK, let me try...

    Is it possible to restore a backups.backupdb time machine backup...

    ... That is currently stored on a linux cloud backup service
    ... And copied there on file level, with complete disregard for protocols like creating sparsebundle containers etc
    ... To a machine that is not the machine where the backup originates from
    ... And will that solve the "problem" that the folder structure is intact but completely empty?

    I hope this is more descriptive. It is a complex situation I'm afraid.
  5. mtasquared macrumors regular


    May 3, 2012
    This is what I would do. Just as a nonpro guess.Get hold of an external USB drive HFS formatted. Designate it the time machine drive (then turn off time machine before it has a chance to backup). Reformat the drive to delete any backup (deleting normally could take forever). Using your cloud service download your old backup.backup to the external drive. Turn on time machine. See if you can browse to the date you want in the time machine app and restore. Problem is it will completely vaporize your current OS unless you're OK with that. Also I'm not sure time machine can be fooled in this manner. Maybe a pro could chime in.
  6. Sciuriware macrumors 6502


    Jan 4, 2014
    first of all, I'm not a Time Machine expert either.

    I suppose TM can only restore from what it 'thinks' is its own backup.
    So you must 'point' TM at the backup target.
    I believe that when TM accepts that sparse bundle to add more backups to it
    then it will also allow you to "Enter" the "past".
    I would copy that entire file to an USB device: a network of different "race"
    is probably not accepted.
    About what is in it ... don't worry now,
    worry later when the TM 'windows-of-time' do not show something useful.

    I once did something similar: I added a USB disk to the TimeCapsule and
    copied the backups so far to it.
    Then I pointed TM to the new disk to alternate between that disk and TC.
    It still works.
    Just give it a try.
  7. mtasquared, Oct 7, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014

    mtasquared macrumors regular


    May 3, 2012
    You know what, forget what I said. You can't just put an OS and drivers meant for a macbook onto an iMac. You probably have to restore an image from a macbook onto another (identical) macbook. And again that would vaporize your OS on the computer.

    I think if your data you're trying to restore is absolutely critical then you have to borrow/get hold of the same type of macbook as you originally had. And back that up first as well.
  8. joostwesterpark thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2014
    Well, to tell you the truth, I'm not that worried about what happens to a mountable backup, since I think I will be able to mount it as a file repository. But I'd be happily surprised if I make it that far. Thanks for your ideas though.

    I'll first have to figure out how to get it on a disk from that silly restore util...


    Joop, sounds promising. What was the file system of the USB?
  9. Sciuriware macrumors 6502


    Jan 4, 2014
    USB: of course I formatted it first to standard OSX format.

    About restoring:

    you should never restore a system itself to another machine, even of the same make.
    To restore OSX to its initial setup: https://www.apple.com/osx/recovery/

    But of course you can restore applications and data files from any medium,
    even a TM backup from another system, as long as that application
    is meant for the current OSX release.
  10. joostwesterpark thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2014
    Hm yeah, I have the additional problem of having it copied to a linux based cloud service without thinking twice :-(

    As it seems my problem is getting less and less relevant. The OK folders are steadily downloading and it's more than 10 GB of said 20 GB already. I guess these backup-folders are truly empty. Maybe by some happy coincidence the cloudservice does not recognize the files and therefore does not count them but that sounds a lot like wishful thinking.

    Will report what happens.

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