EsTriFee

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 18, 2013
29
2
Hey so i've been doing time machine backups for a while but when i connected my drive for a backup a couple weeks ago it just said "not enough space on the backup drive" which was weird as the size it was quating was basically a full disk backup again which i assumed time machine never does after the initial one. But alas it would just complain about the size. I tried some workarounds but long story short accidentally disconnected the drive and after i told time machine to use it again it wouldn't see any of the old backups (they were also all in ahidden folder for some reason rather than in a plain backup folder as all the tutorials mention). Since i could access the files but there was still a lock on deleting the files I gave up and just reformated the drives partition that holds the backups as I was hoping to just do a new backup now and move past this. However after doing so and selecting the drive it starts doing a backup of 260gb and then finishes it within a minute (which is impossible). sure enough when i look at the drive it still has the same amount of space and the backup folders created are completely empty, hence nothing is actually backed up.

So just wondering is this an issue with the latest macOS update (Mojave not beta) or is my drive gone off or what? seems like time machine is acting weird in the first place but wondering if anyone has any solutions for this as knowing me the moment i don't have a backup I'll wish i did.
 

Honza1

macrumors 6502
Nov 30, 2013
416
137
US
No, this is general issue with TM, not Mojave specific. It has been behaving like teenager for long time - mostly it behaves, but then it decides to misbehave for no known reason and that is it. Fixes are complicated and tedious. The best thing is to reformat TM disk and start from scratch as you did.
If the TM fails this way, it looks like database on the main disk is screwed up. Reset Spotlight database (I believe that is used for TM also) - I find easiest to use Onyx to reset that and do other system cleanups and fixes. Switch TM off and then on... I believe that should reset the database.
[doublepost=1560295918][/doublepost]Get carbon Copy Cloner (or Disk Duper) and make clone or the disk - before doing ANYTHING else. Do not risk any changes without backup.
 
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EsTriFee

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 18, 2013
29
2
No, this is general issue with TM, not Mojave specific. It has been behaving like teenager for long time - mostly it behaves, but then it decides to misbehave for no known reason and that is it. Fixes are complicated and tedious. The best thing is to reformat TM disk and start from scratch as you did.
If the TM fails this way, it looks like database on the main disk is screwed up. Reset Spotlight database (I believe that is used for TM also) - I find easiest to use Onyx to reset that and do other system cleanups and fixes. Switch TM off and then on... I believe that should reset the database.
[doublepost=1560295918][/doublepost]Get carbon Copy Cloner (or Disk Duper) and make clone or the disk - before doing ANYTHING else. Do not risk any changes without backup.
Thanks for the input, but i feel like just waiting till next update and hope that fixes it as i've reformated the drive multiple times at this point.. did a spotlight reindex... tried encrypted/non encrypted backup and it still does it only to have empty backup folders in the drive. I was guessing that it might be that i don't have that much local storage space left on the hard disk but i feel like it would at least show me that's the issue ?
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,184
5,537
Fishrrman's "there he goes off his rocker again!" opinion:

TM has been "broken" since the day it was released.
Use something else instead.
CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper are good alternatives...
 
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Honza1

macrumors 6502
Nov 30, 2013
416
137
US
Thanks for the input, but i feel like just waiting till next update and hope that fixes it as i've reformated the drive multiple times at this point.. did a spotlight reindex... tried encrypted/non encrypted backup and it still does it only to have empty backup folders in the drive. I was guessing that it might be that i don't have that much local storage space left on the hard disk but i feel like it would at least show me that's the issue ?
There are some, who have dreadful experience with TM; personally, I have pretty good. What you describe does not seem to be routine experience. TM mostly works. If you did not try different drive - I mean physically, different type of enclosure and hard drive - try that. There have been few rare cases when specific enclosure/drive has had issues with OSX systems. USB interface in the enclosure (its reliability & compatibility) may also be issue.

I run multiple TM disks on each of my computers (2 per computer), together ~8-10 TM disks spread around multiple physical locations. I need to reformat/start new TM disk for some TM failure may be once per year. I think that pretty much describes reliability of the TM system - it is bit fragile, but mostly works. Anything above this failure rate suggests some other issues, hardware most likely.
Note: my experience is, that external (USB3) TM disks are MUCH more likely to fail somehow than internal ones. The most reliable are my TM hard drives, hosted in my main OSX computer on local area network, used by other Macs I have. Those work like clockwork for years.

As Fishrrman suggests - TM is just little bit too wonky to trust it as the only backup method. They are great if you need occasionally old file. But reliability when you need them... I am paranoid and have also weekly backup to separate external disk using Carbon Copy Cloner of EVERY of my system/data disk partitions. Disk space is unbelievably cheap today. Your data are lot more expensive. Backups are critically important.
 

machenryr

macrumors 6502
Jan 25, 2016
354
37
Fishrrman's "there he goes off his rocker again!" opinion:

TM has been "broken" since the day it was released.
Use something else instead.
CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper are good alternatives...
Now I find out. Lol. I’ve always used SuperDuper. After moving to Mojave I decided to use TM for the first time. I keep hearing what I lifesaver it is. Different than CCC or SD. Today it said it couldn’t back up the drive. I ignored it.
 

The Hammer

macrumors 6502
Jun 19, 2008
371
42
Toronto, Canada
I encountered an issue with TM yesterday where it would get stuck on preparing backup. I use High Sierra. So not a Mojave issue. I found out how to fix it though.
 

EsTriFee

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 18, 2013
29
2
Fishrrman's "there he goes off his rocker again!" opinion:

TM has been "broken" since the day it was released.
Use something else instead.
CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper are good alternatives...
It worked perfectly fine until it didn't and unfortunately neither a spotlight reindex or macos reinstall fixed the issue. It just backs up nothing and calls it a "backup" while the folders and the drive stay empty
 

Coconutcreampie

Suspended
Aug 31, 2016
143
73
NY America
Fishrrman's "there he goes off his rocker again!" opinion:

TM has been "broken" since the day it was released.
Use something else instead.
CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper are good alternatives...
Neither are replacements for what Time Machine can do. I've also been using Time Machine heavily since 2008, files and full system restores, and it has never failed me.
[doublepost=1562418881][/doublepost]
Now I find out. Lol. I’ve always used SuperDuper. After moving to Mojave I decided to use TM for the first time. I keep hearing what I lifesaver it is. Different than CCC or SD. Today it said it couldn’t back up the drive. I ignored it.
You give up too easy.
 

SaSaSushi

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2007
4,079
470
Takamatsu, Japan
Neither are replacements for what Time Machine can do. I've also been using Time Machine heavily since 2008, files and full system restores, and it has never failed me.
CCC (and I believe SuperDuper as well) now supports APFS snapshots. It's easy enough to browse back through snapshots to recover individual files.

In terms of full system restores there is no comparison. Both CCC and SuperDuper create fully bootable clones that are simple to boot up to on the backup drive and restore. It's way faster and easier than dealing with Time Machine.

Also, on the occasions I've had to send my iMac to Apple for service under AppleCare I formatted the internal drive and just restore from backup on return for peace of mind.

I love Carbon Copy Cloner and can't recommend it highly enough. It's saved my bacon on numerous occasions.
 

EsTriFee

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 18, 2013
29
2
Just to give a heads up in anyone ever runs into this issue...... Somehow my mac's name changed to ".." just 2 dots and this seems to have thrown off time machine so it would backup but give an empty backup, i.e. would literally create empty "macintosh HD" folders in the backup instead of all the files. Changed it to a simple name and it failed it's first backup but then after some cleanup it worked like a charm and is working again