Time Capsule/Time Machine backup files to NTFS/Windows

Discussion in 'OS X Mavericks (10.9)' started by lorax3, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. lorax3, Jun 30, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014

    lorax3 macrumors regular


    Jun 25, 2007
    So here is the situation. Maybe someone can tell be if its possible.

    I need to make a complete backup of my Time Capsule, that is being used as a time machine by a MacBookAir, and move the raw files to a Windows Machine/NTFS drive.

    The time machine has backups for about 1.5 years. I am looking to move ALL files (yes all duplicates and revisions too) from the Time Capsule to a Windows machine.

    I physically connected the time capsule to another mac, just to see if I could mount it. I see the file structure in the spare bundle file, but can I just copy all these files to an NTFS drive?

    Any easy way to copy a compete time machine backup in a normal tree style file structure to a windows machine? I could certainly manually copy all the files, and that is fine. But According to apple you do NOT want to mess with sparse bundle files.

    Edit: Perhaps use CCCloner or Superduper to make a working image first without hard links?
  2. scaredpoet, Jul 1, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014

    scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    Unfortunately, you can't. For starters, Macs will read but not write to NTFS drives out of the box.

    Second, although you might be able to use a program like MacFUSE to enable NTFS writing, copying over a Time machine volume's contents to that drive will likely break the contents of the backup and render it unusable. Time Machine requires an HFS+ formatted drive, and uses a lot of the features of that filesystem (resource forks, symbolic links to name a couple) to make incremental backups work. Move to a Windows bsed filesystem and you risk breaking all the links, giving you a mess of some-readable, some-not files.

    Your best bet would be to format the drive as HFS+, then copy the backup over and install HFSExplorer on your windows system, so it can read the files.
  3. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    The TM backup on a TC is fully contained in the sparse bundle image. So you can just connect any Windows machine to the TC and drag and drop the file to the Windows machine with no problem and it stays intact. Then you can use something like TransMac in Windows to open the sparse bundle and see the files.

    Here is the thing though... once you open that sparse bundle you will see a file called Backups.backups.db and you will be able to see your files in there. But often what you see is not what you think because of the way TM uses hard links. If you just wanted to peak in there to grab a few documents, you could probably get that done, but trying to copy everything out of there into a flat file format like you want is going to be a big mess.

    If it was me I would use Disk Util to clone your drive to an external HFS+ formatted drive, then use the utility scared poet mentioned to access the files in Windows.

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