Time Machine Back-ups to Network Connected Drive

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by dgbarar, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. dgbarar, Dec 4, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015

    dgbarar macrumors regular

    dgbarar

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    #1
    Hi All,

    I currently back-up both of my MacBooks to a single external drive connected to the USB3 port of ASUs RT-AC68U router. Works great.

    Of course this is only a single network drive and if I unfortunately have a double failure of both the drive and a Macbook I have lost my ability to restore a laptop.

    I am seeking an economical dual drive solution to perform my Time Machine backups. Ideally, this dual drive enclosure would connect to the USB port on the router and the dual drives will mirror each other in the event one of them fail.

    Can someone provide me what they consider a good solution.

    Cheers,

    Donald Barar
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #2
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_RAID_levels#RAID_1

    Sounds like what you are after is RAID1. There are external USB3 RAID1 enclosures, but I do not know if that would work with your router. You might want to check with ASUS on that.

    What most people use is a networked attached storage device (NAS) that supports RAID1. It is essentially a box that contains the RAID1 drives and it attached to the network using a wired ethernet connection. There are a lot of vendors like QNAP and Synology that sell these RAID1 NAS devices.

    What might be cheaper is attach a USB hub to the router then attached two, cheap USB drives, then select them each separately as Time Machine destination on each Mac. Each Mac will alternate between the two drives. So hour one will backup to the first drive, then hour two to the second drive and so on.
     
  3. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #3
    It is nice that you don't have time machine issues using a non apple approved destinations. The protocol won't be as robust against packet errors, but then you could continue to be lucky.

    That router has two USB ports doesn't it? So you should be able to buy another USB drive, plug it in, and then configure time machine to use both drives. TM will automatically alternate drives, works great.

    But if it was me and I wanted to count on those backups being on a non supported destination when I needed them, I'd switch to something like Carbon Copy Cloner... just for the piece of mind. But that may just be me. There are way too many problems reported otherwise for me.
     
  4. dgbarar, Dec 4, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015

    dgbarar thread starter macrumors regular

    dgbarar

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    #4
    Dear WeaselBoy and Coldcase,

    Thank you both for responding.

    I had not considered packet errors and that maybe the backups might not be any good. My reason for wanting to do back-ups to USB drives attached to the router was because in the event that I needed to restore a laptop all I would have to do is disconnect from the router then re-attach to the laptop and restore as usual. Maybe I need to reconsider this strategy.

    Tell me more about CarbonCopy Cloner. I am assuming this is software that is I place on the Mac and that the back-ups take the place of Time Machine Back-ups? Is this correct? Do I save my back-ups to NAS drive? If I need to restore a laptop, how would I get the back-up from Carbon Cloner onto the laptop?

    Currently, I own ChronoSync and use it to back-up important files. Can I use ChronoSync in a fashion similar to CarbonCopy Cloner.

    Cheers,

    Donald Barar
     
  5. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #5
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202784

    Here is the thing... look at this Apple Support document and the methods of using Time Machine. In the past that last section about "Network volumes connected using Apple File Protocol (AFP)" was not there, so myself, ColdCase and others always recommended using one of the other official "supported" solutions from this document. Then very recently (that page shows a September 2015 update) Apple added that last "Network volumes connected using Apple File Protocol (AFP)" option. Your Asus router does support AFP, so in theory TM should work fine.

    Where ColdCase and I are coming from is in the past people using these third party solutions like your Asus router sometimes had backup corruption problems. Other people use these solutions just fine with no issues. These reports coupled with the official Apple document not listing these third party solutions caused us to steer people away.

    Now with Apple apparently changing course and saying these third party devices are okay as long as they support AFP, I honestly don't know what to think. Perhaps Apple made changes to AFP in newer OS versions so they are now comfortable with third party solutions? Who knows.

    If you make a TM backup over the network like this, then move the drive over to a direct USB connection, you will not be able to directly restore. When you make TM backups over the network the files are stored inside a sparse bundle image. That format cannot be directly read by a drive attached locally by USB. There is a work around where you can open the sparse bundle image and drag the backups.backupsdb file out of the sparse bundle into the root of the drive and then it would work by USB locally.

    Yes... you could just use CCC in place of Time Machine as your backup software and you could also use the resulting backup disk to restore. Some people use both Time Machine and CCC. I backup to a Apple Time Capsule with Time Machine then once or twice a week use CCC to update a second backup/clone USB disk.
     
  6. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #6
    Another option to to connect a USB drive to each Macbook and backup each to its attached drive and also backup each one to the others USB drive. That give you two backups of each computer. The backup across the network can be done with Time Machine of something like CrashPlan (free for local backups). I always like having multiple backups with different software in the event there is a glitch in the process.
     
  7. dgbarar thread starter macrumors regular

    dgbarar

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    #7
    Hi WeaselBoy,

    I have been reading several other threads on this topic regarding operating an AirPort Extreme in bridge mode (ASUS RT-AC68U still being the the router) and having a USB drive connected to the Airport Extreme.

    Would this configuration eliminate/reduce packet error issues and potentially bad back-ups?

    Also, you mentioned that usb drive images could not be used directly to restore a Mac and that I had to drag back the sparse bundles. If I had the usb drive connected to the AirPort Extreme, would i be able to restore with the TM back-up and not have to drag back the sparse bundles?

    Donald Barar
     
  8. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #8
    Well you would then be using an officially supported Apple backup method, so in theory that would be more reliable. But like I mentioned, Apple appears to have changed and now is saying as long as your device supports AFP (your Asus does) you will be okay. So I think we are just guessing a bit here.

    But yes, you could run a Extreme off the Asus router for networked backups, but that would still put the TM backup inside a sparse bundle image. Any TM backup over the network is going to be inside the sparse bundle image.
     
  9. dgbarar thread starter macrumors regular

    dgbarar

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    #9
     
  10. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #10
    Yes it is.
     
  11. dgbarar, Dec 6, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2015

    dgbarar thread starter macrumors regular

    dgbarar

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    #11
    Thank you. Looks like I need to do some experimenting with restoring from sparse image bundles. Maybe also give Carbon Copy Clone a try.

    Currently, I own ChronoSync that I believe also makes clones. Currently, I have that set to back-up directories of files to an HP Home Server running Windows Home Server. Just not certain how to get the clones off the server back to the laptop should I have a failure. Need to try this as well to see how it works.

    Don
     
  12. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #12
    All Time Machine backups made via AFP are sparse bundles. Only locally attached devices are done via the Mac file system.

    It is important to always test your backups and disaster recovery. I always contend that an untested backup is not a backup. Software and hardware glitches always happen.
     
  13. dgbarar thread starter macrumors regular

    dgbarar

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    #13
    Well that was a complete mis-understanding. I downloaded Carbon Copy Cloner. Wanted to save the clone to HP Home Server operating Windows Home Server. Carbon Copy Cloner reported several messages indicating that would not work.

    I have the following question. Will Carbon Copy Cloner only work with a drive that has been formatted "Mac OS Extended Journaled"?

    Donald Barar
     
  14. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #14
    CCC is usually used to make an EXACT clone of your Mac drive. By definition it has to be formatted as Mac OS Extended Journaled. It is possible to copy files to a remote disk. I just tried it with my Synology NAS and it did fine copying files to a shared folder on the NAS. Using CCC in this manner just backups up the files but doesn't make a bootable clone.
     
  15. dgbarar thread starter macrumors regular

    dgbarar

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    #15
     
  16. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #16
    Yes it will. I prefer having the bootable USB drive so I can plug it into my wife's iMac if my MBP dies. It's my get back up and running quickly plan.
     
  17. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #17
    There are some limitations, give this a read. CCC to a non HFS+ file system will backup your personal data, but not system files.
     
  18. dgbarar thread starter macrumors regular

    dgbarar

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    #18
    Hi WeasleBoy and ColdCase:

    Started experimenting my way through this. I purchased an Airport Extreme that I have in bridge mode connected to my ASUS RT-AC-68U router. To the Airport Extreme I have connected via the USB port a Western Digital MyBook Duo configured for RAID 1 and formatted HFS+.

    With Carbon Copy Cloner, I attempted to make a bootable clone of the MBP 11 hard drive. Please see attached screen shot of what CCC reports back.

    Not quite certain what to do or, if this configuration will even work. Thoughts?

    Cheers,

    Donald Barar
     

    Attached Files:

  19. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #19
    As we have said numerous times in this thread, the ONLY way to make a bootable clone with CCC is using a drive directly attached to the Mac that is formatted with Mac OS X Extended, Journaled. Period, end of discussion. Plug the USB drive into the ac and give CCC a try and see how well it works.

    CCC can be used as a sync tool to copy files to network attached drives but there are limitations exactly as you see in your screenshot.
     
  20. dgbarar thread starter macrumors regular

    dgbarar

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    #20
    Hi ColdCase,

    Understood. Only locally attached drives to make a bootable clone with CCC.

    Don
     
  21. priitv8 macrumors 68020

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    Estonia
    #21
    I personally have set up TimeMachine's built-in capability to round-robin between several backup destinations.
    So I have 3 USB disks, each has different network mount point and OS X will happily use them in a round-robin manner.
    This means none of the backups are exact copies, but that really doesn't bother me.
    OS X Yosemite: Use multiple backup disks
     
  22. dgbarar thread starter macrumors regular

    dgbarar

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    #22
    Hello All,

    To close the loop on this discussion, I purchased an AirPort Extreme (APE) and a Western Digital My Book Duo. I connected the APE to my ASUS RT-AC68U. The APE was set to bridge mode and the wireless turned off. I then connected the My Book to the APE via the USB ports.

    Both of my MacBooks are making Time Machine backups to the My Book. i have also tested the configuration to make certain that I could restore one of the laptops from the My Book. This was done by first re-formating the hard drive on one of the Mac's and then restoring from the My Book via Time Machine. The MacBook was connected to the router via an ethernet cable. Restoration of an early 2014 MBA 128 GB took about 90 minutes. All worked as expected.

    I have learned much from the discussion. Thank you to everyone that participated.

    Donald Barar
     

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