Sanity Check -- Solutions for a Larger Time Machine Backup

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Bryan Bowler, Oct 30, 2015.

  1. Bryan Bowler, Oct 30, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2015

    Bryan Bowler macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    #1
    Update:
    Man, I'm bummed that I haven't been able to receive feedback from anyone. Perhaps my original post contained too much information. Here it is in condensed terms:

    My Time Machine back-up is larger than what my 3 TB Airport Time Machine can handle. Is ditching my Time Capsule, buying a new Airport Extreme, and hooking a 6 TB external hard drive to the new Airport Extreme the best solution? Is there a better way?

    Original Post:

    I'm really hoping to get some feedback so I can move forward with ordering what I need. Thanks!

    I have not had my morning caffeine yet, so I thought I would run this by my fellow forum members before moving ahead. I've always received such great advice here! If you don't feel like reading the "Background", then feel free to scroll down to "Here's what I'm thinking".

    Background:

    The problem I'm having is with my onsite Time Machine backup to my 4th generation (mid-2011) 3 TB Time Capsule. The machine I'm wirelessly backing up to that 3 TB Time Capsule has 2.6 TB of data. My Time Machine backup crashed about 2 weeks ago (actually, my Mac did not see it anymore), so I formatted the Time Capsule drive and performed a factory reset on the Time Capsule...and then started a new backup set. I'm fully aware that with 2.6 TB of data, a 3 TB drive is not going to cut it, but I wanted to see if I could squeeze some more life out of this Time Capsule before upgrading to a different solution. Well, I suspect that I may not be able to wait. The Time Machine Backup has been running for 8 days straight and it is constantly hanging up. No matter how many times I stop the backup and then start it again, it still hangs up. I only have 18 GB of data left to go in this 2.6 TB backup set, but it is frozen. I'm assuming that it's simply too much data for a 3 TB to handle and the hard drive speed is causing things to be at a standstill.

    Assuming I'm correct, it's time to look for another solution.

    For the record, I have an off-site back-up that I update once a month. As for my primary hard drives, as you can see in my sig below, I use an OWC Thunderbay 20 TB Raid 5 array.

    Here's what I'm thinking:

    1) Ditch the mid-2011 Time Capsule and upgrade to the new Airport Extreme so I can now utilize 802.11ac. Would love to have a faster wi-fi network in the home. Current internet speeds is 108 down/16 up at the source, but I only realize 70 down/16 up at my Mac due to the unchangeable distance between my router and my Mac. I'm hoping the new Airport Extreme will improve my performance.

    2) Buy a standalone external 6 TB drive (USB 3) and attach it to the Airport Extreme for my Time Machine backup. I don't want the drive attached in my office because I prefer to limit the amount of background noise I hear, so that's why I want to relegate it to where my router is. It sucks that the Airport Extreme only has a USB2 port, but of well, it's only a back-up so speed is not totally necessary. (Unless Time Machine continues to hangup and take weeks to make a backup, but hopefully a larger drive and improved 802.11ac will solve this.)

    The cost for a new Airport Extreme is $199 and the cost for a 6 TB external is around $175. A 6 TB drive should last for at least 2 years (space-wise) for this machine. When I do outgrow it, I can relegate it to the system of drives I use for my off-site backups.

    The other option I considered is picking up a new, but open-box Thunderbay 4 from OWC for $337 and adding it to my office. Then throw in one 5 TB drive ($174) for the Time Machine backup and I would have 3 bays open for future expansion. However, I can't see myself needing that expansion room for at least 3 years, maybe more, so this $511 solution seems like an excessive amount of money. Plus, this solution does not give me the 802.11ac upgrade that a new APExtreme would bring.

    What are your thoughts? Does a new APExtreme and an attached 6TB standalone drive see like the best solution? Or are there pitfalls that I should be aware of?

    My onsite backup is not working right now, so I want to fix this problem as soon as possible.

    Thanks!
    Bryan
     
  2. Bryan Bowler thread starter macrumors 68040

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    Sep 27, 2008
  3. Bryan Bowler thread starter macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    #3
    Man, I'm bummed that I haven't been able to receive feedback from anyone. Perhaps my original post contained too much information. Here it is in condensed terms:

    My Time Machine back-up is larger than what my 3 TB Airport Time Machine can handle. Is ditching my Time Capsule, buying a new Airport Extreme, and hooking a 6 TB external hard drive to the new Airport Extreme the best solution? Is there a better way?

    I'm really hoping to get some feedback so I can move forward with ordering what I need. Thanks!
     
  4. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #4
    Given your requirement for wireless Time Machine backup, that is option I would go with.

    Sounds like you could use a new router anyway, so that makes it an even better option.
     
  5. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #5
    I've never liked trying to do Time Machine backups over wifi, especially when the backup is as large as yours. I think that going with a direct attached drive will save you a lot of time and be far more efficient.
     
  6. Bryan Bowler thread starter macrumors 68040

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    Sep 27, 2008
    #6
    Thank you for the input -- it is greatly appreciated! pastrychef, once I get past the initial backup, do you think the incremental backups will be a problem over wi-fi? Just trying to seek out input from those that have really large Tima Machine backups...

    Thanks!
     
  7. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #7
    I've been using a Time Capsule wirelessly for years and it works just fine. As mentioned, that first backup is going to take a while.
     
  8. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    New York City, NY
    #8
    Yes, as Weaselboy stated, the incremental backups will probably be fine but that initial one is killer over wifi.
     
  9. Bryan Bowler thread starter macrumors 68040

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    Sep 27, 2008
    #9
    Thanks. I imagine the long initial backup could be mitigated by connecting the 6 TB standalone hard drive directly to the iMac for the initial backup, and then relocating it to the Airport Extreme afterwards.
     
  10. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #10
    That won't work. The networked drive TM backups are placed inside a sparse bundle image on the networked drive, where they are not on a locally attached drive. The two are not interchangeable.

    There is a work around that requires some hoop jumping if you want to deal with it. Look at section #3 on this page.
     
  11. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

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    Shropshire, UK
    #11
    I've tried backing up to a USB drive plugged into an Airport Extreme and had mixed success: It would work, but I regularly got "The backup is corrupt" messages and had to start again.
    I've now got an old Mac running OS X server and use the time machine service on there to do wireless backups to a drive plugged into it and it has worked perfectly
     
  12. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #12
    What model AE? Only the new 802.11ac tower shaped models support backups with Time Machine. Lot's of people figured out work arounds to get the older models to work, but they were unreliable.
     
  13. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

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    Shropshire, UK
    #13
    The latest model 802.21ac tower that is supposed to support it :)
     
  14. Bryan Bowler thread starter macrumors 68040

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    Sep 27, 2008
    #14
    As a statement to all, this is what worries me. I don't want to invest in a new Airport Extreme and a 6 TB USB-powere External Hard Drive just to run into continual problems down the road. I wish wireless Time Machine backups "just worked" like other Apple products, but that just doesn't seem to be the case.

    I am willing to invest in a more robust solution: add another OWC Thunderbay to my home office and establish a direct-connect Time Machine backup, but I'm really trying to keep the fan noise as low as possible in my office.

    This is a very tough decision for me.
     
  15. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #15
    Not to dismiss Phill's comment in any way, but many people use the AE for Time Machine with no issues and it is officially supported by Apple. Not sure what was up with Phil's setup. You could give it a try while within the exchange window and take it back if you don't care for the setup.
     
  16. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

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    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Finger Lakes Region
    #16
    I have always done this was for YEARS with no problem! It even worked on an Extreme at at a friend's house! Saved him tine doing it this way. The Mac's Time Machine function just kept working with the incremental backups.

    I just told him if he ever had to do a full restore to just re-connect the drive to his iMac for the speediest restore.
     
  17. Bryan Bowler thread starter macrumors 68040

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    Sep 27, 2008
    #17
    Good point on the return period. That makes sense and could be a good way to test things out.

    Ok, this is encouraging. Thank you for passing this info on to me.

    I think I'll do a little more research later this evening and then most likely order an AP Extreme and a 6 TB USB-3 drive to replace my mid-2011 3 TB Time Capsule.
     
  18. Bryan Bowler thread starter macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    #18
    Well, I just ordered a refurbished latest-generation Airport Extreme from Apple for $129 and I also ordered a 6 TB Western Digital My Book external hard drive from B&H Photo for $185. All of the components will be here by Monday evening. I'll post back with the results -- as expected, everything should work. And just for grins, I may throw in a few artsy pics of this set-up too. :)

    Thank you everyone for the help and advice. It's much appreciated!
     

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