Networked Time Machine - Why So Cumbersome?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Hrothgar, Jul 17, 2014.

  1. Hrothgar, Jul 17, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2014

    Hrothgar macrumors 6502

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    #1
    So, I just connected a WD external drive to my Airport Extreme's USB port. Although the drive appeared in Finder, I could not assign it to Time Machine until I searched the internet for instructions and connected to the server and entered my LAN address. Although it seems to be working fine, i'm curious why it is so cumbersome.

    I would have expected that Network preferences would see any drive connected to the airport extreme and allow me to click through to set it up.

    ETA -- Actually, I just noticed that although I did a full time machine back up yesterday with the drive hard-wired to my computer, now that it's connected to the network, it seems that Time Machine is starting from scratch again with a full back-up over the network. At 650 gb this seems like it could take days. Why is it doing this? It seems so poorly contrived.
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #2
    Personally, if you can connect the external drive directly to the computer, then I would. The backup performance is so slow that I'd not go that route.

    I'm not sure why, but it seems that TM is assuming its a completely different drive once you connected it to the router.
     
  3. Hrothgar thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Yeah, that's why I did the initial back-up hardwired. I hoped to avoid this. But I'm not sure why the computer didn't recognize this as the same drive after I connected it to the router.

    Did I do it incorrectly? (Although I think it will work fine if this (second) initial backup ever finishes.)
     
  4. pmau macrumors 65816

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    #4
    A local TM backup and a networked TM back use a completly different approach.
    The local TM backup creates a Backupdb folder inside the Maschine's backup folder and does some chflags magic to make this stuff immutable.

    The network based tM backup creates an Apple DiskImage on the network drive that is than attached over the underlying filesystem protocol.

    Since this disk image a split into "bands" that need to be transmitted, modified and then sent back, the network TM backup is awefully slow.

    And, that was your question, they cannot be interchanged.
    They are not compatible and from the machines POV not the same backup.
     
  5. Hrothgar thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Got it. Thank you.

    So, if I want to do my Time Machine backups over the network, I just wait for it to finish? And I can delete the original "direct" backup I did?

    I assume there is no real-world difference between direct backup and network? That is, my data is just as safe using the network?
     
  6. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #6
    Just to clarify, are using the new, tower shaped Airport Extreme? If you are using the older pancake shaped model, Time Machine backup to a drive attached to USB on the Extreme on that model is not supported. There are hacks out there to make it work, but it won't be reliable.

    You mentioning you did not see the drive as a Time Machine target makes me thing maybe you are on the older pancake model?

    Assuming you are using the supported tower model, yes and yes.

    All the networked version is doing is taking the same Backups.backupd structure and plopping it in a sparse bundle like pmau mentioned.
     
  7. Hrothgar thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Yes, I'm using the older, flat model of the Airport Extreme. I was under the impression that newer USB drives were compatible with it. I did see the drive as a networked time machine target after I connected the drive to the extreme and then went into Network Preferences and added the LAN IP address.

    Does this mean that the backups are not reliable?
     
  8. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #8
    Exactly. Time Machines backups to a USB external attached to the pancake Extreme are not supported by Apple. Lots of people get it working using the work around you used, then discover later their data is not there when they go to restore. I would not trust it.

    There is an Apple support doc on it here.
     
  9. Hrothgar thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #9
    That seems to say that Time Machine wont work with the new Airport Extreme either.

    I guess I just find a different networked backup application?
     
  10. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #10
    It will. This article is for the old one. It specifically says in the manual for the new one that it supports Time Machine. Confusing I know.
     
  11. sjinsjca macrumors 68000

    sjinsjca

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    #11

    Not quite true. You can take a USB drive from your Time Capsule or current-model Airport Extreme, connect it directly to your Mac, and restore from there. I just did this the other day after a motherboard repair, guided by a kindly AppleCare technician on the phone.

    And, hours after the machine was restored, I could point Time Machine to the drive (re-connected by USB) and back up to it. A pop-up asked if I wanted to inherit the backup status from the drive, and I said yes... and an incremental backup proceeded without issue.

    Granted, that's the opposite sequence of what OP is doing, but it's untrue there's any broad incompatibility.

    Just be sure the disk is not being accessed by some Mac on your LAN when you unplug it. Impolite disconnections of any disk risk the data on it.

    Incidentally, the OP's comment regarding entering his LAN address has me mystified. I've never had to do anything of the sort with my drives. Assuming they're Mac-formatted when plugged into the router, they should pop right up and be ready to select in Time Machine's preferences. At least, that's been my consistent experience with several networks and a bunch of Macs as old as a G4 Powerbook and G5 PowerMac, both running Leopard IIRC.
     
  12. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    #12
    My personal advice. Treat your backups as mission critical... hence, never use an unsupported configuration for your backups.

    Backup to multiple destinations, using multiple backup programs, all with zero human intervention. At least one destination must be off-premise.

    If you follow that advice, you are likely to be OK in the long run.

    /Jim
     
  13. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #13
    I agree, in fact I go with two different back up methods.
    I use Time Machine to my DAS and I use Carbon Copy Cloner to an external drive, in fact I do this on two different drives, one of which goes offsite.
     
  14. Hrothgar thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #14
    I do have a Carbon Copy Clone backup on a separate drive that I keep off-site and update about every month. (This is not a work computer, so other than adding music files, there aren't many files on it that I don't have elsewhere.)

    But I wanted a simple, networked set-up to maintain regular backups. What's the best way to do that -- other than buying a new Time Capsule (which I don't plan on doing).
     
  15. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #15
    The only "official" way to do it is with either a Time Capsule or the new Extreme with a USB drive. There are some NAS devices that work with Time Machine, but those cost more than a Time Capsule, so I suspect you won't want that route.

    Another Apple supported method is to another local Mac that is running OS X server version. You just point Time Machine to a shared drive on the second Mac.

    You could just pay for an off site backup to something like Crashplan.

    Also, if you have a friend with similar needs, you can use Crashplans's software (free) to backup to a remote computer also running the Crashplan software. So you and a friend could backup to each other's computers.
     
  16. Hrothgar thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #16
    I don't doubt it, but -- what if I didn't have an Airport Extreme? What if I had a Lynksis or other router. Could I then find an application that will do back-ups to the networked drive?

    It seems to me that requiring a wired-connection kind of defeats the purpose of having a laptop. Unless, of course, I plug in in the USB drive every night.
     
  17. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #17
    NAS units allow this, as Weaselboy mentioned, but they are pricey.

    I think you need to look for a specific solution, rather then plugging a drive into the router's USB port and trying to use Time Machine outside of what apple recommends.
     
  18. Hrothgar thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #18
    What are the non-time machine options?

    I never gave it much thought, but I always assumed that most back-up drives were connected to a network, especially for laptops.
     
  19. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #19
    You could use something like Carbon Copy Cloner to backup to a networked drive.
     
  20. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    #20
    Which violates my guideline (should you choose to follow it) of never relying on any human intervention.

    The easiest thing would be to buy a new model Airport Extreme and sell your old one on ebay or craigslist.

    /Jim

    ----------

    I use CCC a lot, and I love the program. I just get an allergic reaction to referring to cloning as "backup". To me, backup implies versioning... as one of the most common methods of data corruption is inadvertent human behavior. Being able to turn back the clock is important.

    CCC has some very rudimentary support for keeping old versions... but it is of limited use, especially for complex situations such as library databases and such.

    /Jim
     

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