Time Machine Backups Failing

mk313

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 6, 2012
988
403
Since sometime around January, I've experienced intermittent Time Machine failing to backup (using an Apple Time Capsule 3 TB (with 1.6 TB of free space, and the Time Capsule HD works just fine for everything else. I can download & upload files to it with no issues). I just happened to notice that my machine hasn't backed up since June 5th. I tried to initiate a backup, but it just quits somewhere in the middle.

I've had this happen 3-4 times this year & in the past, I just deleted the entire old backup, then created a new backup. It took a long time, but it worked. Now, I'm not even able to create the initial backup. It seems to keep failing without warning. I have about 225 GB to backup & the first time, I got about 175 GB backed up, and then it stopped. Then I did a verify backups step & tried it again & it started kind off where it left off (starting with 64 GB to backup), then it too failed, and I did another verify backup & started again & this time it started as a 20 GB backup. This process keeps repeating, I am down to a 345 MB backup now, but it still doesn't seem to want to finish backing up.

Has anyone else seen this, or have any ideas what might be going on?

Thanks in advance.
 

Partron22

macrumors 68030
Apr 13, 2011
2,570
759
Yes
Seen it. Think it might have to do with having too many things excluded from TM backup. Can't prove that, and don't care to do the research.
I keep it running because I can usually get back to where I was an hour ago.
I use SuperDuper! for my real backups.
 

mk313

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 6, 2012
988
403
Which version of MacOS/OS-X are you running? I remember having similar problems a while ago.
10.13.5
[doublepost=1529785723][/doublepost]
Seen it. Think it might have to do with having too many things excluded from TM backup. Can't prove that, and don't care to do the research.
I keep it running because I can usually get back to where I was an hour ago.
I use SuperDuper! for my real backups.
Interesting. I only have one folder excluded & i remember doing it when I first got this Mac (the first time I've ever excluded something from Time machine. I can't remember exactly what it was for, but for some reason, it was really bogging down the initial backup of the machine & it was taking days to backup. Once I excluded that folder, it backed up in about an hour. And I'm not having issues with my other laptop, which I don't have that folder excluded on. I'll have to play around with the settings. If that doesn't fix it, I'll have to check out Super Duper.
 

MLinneer

macrumors regular
Mar 18, 2013
154
23
Sherman, TX
I get this from time to time since the upgrade to High Sierra. Ran Disk Utility and found nothing. I use an external Toshiba 1TB USB broken into 2 500Gb partitions... one for TM and the other is my iTunes library. I haven't worried too much about it since the next backup cycle always completes.

2013 iMac, macOS 10.13.5
 

chscag

macrumors 68040
Feb 17, 2008
3,708
1,277
Fort Worth, Texas
I no longer use Time Machine. You can accomplish the same thing with Carbon Copy Cloner by leaving its "Safety Net" on when cloning your hard drive. Aside from faster backups, a CCC cloned backup is also bootable.
 
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mk313

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 6, 2012
988
403
Thanks guys. I appreciate the help. I'll take a look at Carbon Copy cloner & Super Duper. Seems like Time machine just isn't cutting it any more.
 
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BasicGreatGuy

macrumors G5
Sep 21, 2012
13,236
12,652
In the middle of several books.
Thanks guys. I appreciate the help. I'll take a look at Carbon Copy cloner & Super Duper. Seems like Time machine just isn't cutting it any more.
Always have a backup of your backup (at a minimum).

I have an online backup (Back Blaze) as well as using Carbon Copy Cloner to backup to two different drives, along with backing up to a AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule for my Time Machine backups. That way, if one of my backup drives fail, I have a another drive to hopefully fall back on.
 

HDFan

macrumors 68020
Jun 30, 2007
2,277
613
Time machine serves a slightly different function than CC. It is a great tool for restoring single files from current or older backups, the age only restricted by the size of your TM disk. It is rare, but sometimes I do need to restore files which are months old. Directory or disk restores may take longer.

CC normally just has your most recent files unless you have enabled safetynet. Given the churn which occurs on my boot disk I have never actually used it. It excels at whole disk and directory restores, and a restore of the last copied [safetynet off] file is simply a finder drag.

TMs achilles heel is its complexity, all of those links. From painful previous experiences of TM backups failing when trying to do a restore I now run 2 TM disks. Haven't yet had a double failure. With 2 disks when one inevitably fails I just wipe it. I also wipe a disk when it gets full, so I now have one TM disk with ~5 TB free (just wiped) and one with ~284 GB free. When TM starts the older backups on that latter disk I'll just wipe it.

The golden rule of backups is 3 backups, 3 different media types, 3 locations. I use 2 inexpensive unlimited cloud backup sites, a bank safety deposit box, and on-site disks.
 

crjackson2134

macrumors 601
Mar 6, 2013
4,735
1,868
Charlotte, NC
Time machine serves a slightly different function than CC. It is a great tool for restoring single files from current or older backups, the age only restricted by the size of your TM disk. It is rare, but sometimes I do need to restore files which are months old. Directory or disk restores may take longer.

CC normally just has your most recent files unless you have enabled safetynet. Given the churn which occurs on my boot disk I have never actually used it. It excels at whole disk and directory restores, and a restore of the last copied [safetynet off] file is simply a finder drag.

TMs achilles heel is its complexity, all of those links. From painful previous experiences of TM backups failing when trying to do a restore I now run 2 TM disks. Haven't yet had a double failure. With 2 disks when one inevitably fails I just wipe it. I also wipe a disk when it gets full, so I now have one TM disk with ~5 TB free (just wiped) and one with ~284 GB free. When TM starts the older backups on that latter disk I'll just wipe it.

The golden rule of backups is 3 backups, 3 different media types, 3 locations. I use 2 inexpensive unlimited cloud backup sites, a bank safety deposit box, and on-site disks.
CCC can do all the things that you like about TM. You can grab incrementally different versions, use primarily for files only, and grab individual files, or whole drive bootable. And it’s WAY faster.

Turn on snapshots (on by default in CCC, but I turn it off for my use) and grab the file by date if you want.

Offhand, I can’t think of a singl thing that TM can do and current version of CCC can’t.
 

HDFan

macrumors 68020
Jun 30, 2007
2,277
613
CCC can do all the things that you like about TM.
As I said, although I did forget to mention snapshots. I just find much TM easier to use when doing a single file restore. Go into the finder and highlight the file you want to restore, enter time machine and and you see all of the versions of the file that are available:

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 16.04.36.png

So one click to open time machine, one to select the date, one to hit the restore button, and then the restore location.

A snapshot restore is a very messy process in CC.

You have to highlight the volume, and select the snapshot to restore from:

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 16.08.47.png
then you are presented with another window where you specify you want to copy some files:

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 16.12.59.png
and then you have to specify the files to restore:

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 16.09.20.png

way, way too many keypresses for me. If you don't know when the file you are trying to restore disappeared, you simply scroll through the dates in TM. In CC you have to backout and start the whole snapshot selection process all over. Given how much longer it takes to select the file to restore, even though TM is slow, on my system it will still beat a CC single file snapshot restore. And if you have to go through multiple dates/snapshots, you're talking about an order of magnitude more time for a restore in CC.

Don't get me wrong, I love CCC, I just find this process way too complicated. If you have only one backup solution I would certainly use CCC rather than TM. But if you have the luxury of having both the place I'd go first for a single file restore is TM.

Am I missing something here?
 

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crjackson2134

macrumors 601
Mar 6, 2013
4,735
1,868
Charlotte, NC
As I said, although I did forget to mention snapshots. I just find much TM easier to use when doing a single file restore. Go into the finder and highlight the file you want to restore, enter time machine and and you see all of the versions of the file that are available:

View attachment 767736

So one click to open time machine, one to select the date, one to hit the restore button, and then the restore location.

A snapshot restore is a very messy process in CC.

You have to highlight the volume, and select the snapshot to restore from:

View attachment 767740
then you are presented with another window where you specify you want to copy some files:

View attachment 767741
and then you have to specify the files to restore:

View attachment 767738

way, way too many keypresses for me. If you don't know when the file you are trying to restore disappeared, you simply scroll through the dates in TM. In CC you have to backout and start the whole snapshot selection process all over. Given how much longer it takes to select the file to restore, even though TM is slow, on my system it will still beat a CC single file snapshot restore. And if you have to go through multiple dates/snapshots, you're talking about an order of magnitude more time for a restore in CC.

Don't get me wrong, I love CCC, I just find this process way too complicated. If you have only one backup solution I would certainly use CCC rather than TM. But if you have the luxury of having both the place I'd go first for a single file restore is TM.

Am I missing something here?
I don’t think you’re missing anything. You know what works best for you.
 

smirking

macrumors 68030
Aug 31, 2003
2,626
2,288
Silicon Valley
Has anyone else seen this, or have any ideas what might be going on?
I have no idea what might be going on, but I've been having similar issues for quite some time. My backup volume is large. It's over 1.5 TB and I have it encrypted.

I find that I usually have to start over around once a year or every year and a half. At some point my backup fails and TM wants to reindex the whole volume and that's when my big problems start. Given how large my volume is, I can never get that first backup to finish. Something always happens in the middle. I always accidentally put the computer to sleep and it interrupts the backup and has to start over.

I dealt with that issue by starting off my initial backup with 75% of my drive excluded. I only backed up my most valuable assets on my first run. Then each time the backup run finishes, I add another "slice" of my drive. It takes me a couple of days to do this, but that's the only way I can get it to finish that all important first backup.

BTW, when I start over, I always make sure that my .sparsebundle is fully deleted. I find that if I don't manually wipe that out, my new backup starts off partially corrupted.
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Don't get me wrong, I love CCC, I just find this process way too complicated. If you have only one backup solution I would certainly use CCC rather than TM. But if you have the luxury of having both the place I'd go first for a single file restore is TM.
I use Super Duper along with TM. Super Duper is really easy to grab a single file off of. In my case, TM is my "real" backup and my Super Duper backup is just an insurance policy.
 
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MacCheetah3

macrumors 6502a
Nov 14, 2003
511
69
Sauk Rapids, MN
I realize it's only one possibility, but you may want to consider a failing (backup) drive. At least that's what it was for me in a similar situation.

Backups will begin to fail. I'd run a test in Disk Utility. Nothing wrong. Zeroed the drive -- regrettably had to do it via Windows PC because DU couldn't even complete an erase and format. Did a full TM backup as well as several following. All seemed fine for a couple months, then same symptoms started. Did a repeat format and backup. Fine again for awhile. Eventually, I was able to get DIskWarrior to fully analyze the disk and, from what I recall, it was some problem with the header.

Thankfully, my Mac didn't fail anytime during this period (before finally replacing the drive). All seems good now but I do at least a minimal check of my TM backup every so often, that is, beyond macOS telling me the process was successful.
 
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