Time machine: connect directly to iMac or to wifi router?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by apple-ette, Nov 24, 2016.

  1. apple-ette macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2009
    Sorry for the totally noob question. But is it "better" to connect my external HDD used for Time machine backups directly to my iMac or to a wifi router?

    I'm thinking that connecting to wifi router would be necessary if there are multiple Macs to backup (I don't have), also there will be one less (ugly) cable to see on my desk (connected to the back of the iMac).

    Thanks in advance.
  2. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    I'm assuming you're talking about a regular external hard drive with a USB connection rather than a network hard drive with an ethernet connection.

    The safest bet is to connect it directly to the iMac - Time Machine should Just Work and will probably give the fastest & most reliable connection.

    Of course, you might decide you value a clean desk over speed: If your router has a USB socket that lets you connect hard drives to use as shared storage, and it works with Time Machine (not all do, at least without extra hackery) then in most cases it will be slower than a direct connection (depending, of course on things like what your WiFi speed is and whether the drive & router socket support USB-3).
  3. kiwipeso1 Suspended


    Sep 17, 2001
    Wellington, New Zealand
    With OS X server app, you can setup time machine for the network if you have multiple macs.
    With most routers, you can setup time machine for the network if your router supports it in the admin page.
    (Should have USB 3.0 if it does.)
  4. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    One use of Time Machine (hope you never need it): If you have burglars stealing your Mac, hopefully your home insurance pays for a new one, you plug in your Time Machine, and some time later everything is the same as it used to be. Unless the burglars took your Time Machine drive as well.

    For that reason it is useful to have your Time Machine away from your computer, far away if possible. WiFi is slower, but then you shouldn't be waiting for Time Machine to finish its job (Time Machine intentionally doesn't show a spinning thing in the menubar anymore while it's backing up so that people don't worry about it).
  5. markfrautschi, Nov 26, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016

    markfrautschi macrumors member

    Jan 6, 2004
    Rockville, MD
    Since this is a Mac OS X Server thread, I assume you are running one of the Server versions of Mac OS X.

    With the introduction of Mac OS X Server Lion, the MySQL database was replaced with PostgreSQL. Further, all of the served features, the Wiki, Chat, etc., went from being stored in separate MySQL instances to a single PostgreSQL instance. Unfortunately, to the Time Machine process, the PostgreSQL data store presented as a single file. Thus, whenever one of the served features updated its data, the entire PostgreSQL data store presented as a new version of this (potentially large) file to Time Machine. An arbitrarily small change in content would therefore trigger a backup of a new version of the entire data store by Time Machine. This was impossibly inefficient. It would also fill the Time Capsule or sparceimage prematurely.

    Thus, Apple chose to have Time Machine skip the PostgreSQL data store entirely. Thus, if you lost the PostgreSQL data store, you could NOT recover using Time Machine. Unfortunately, the designers of the Mac OS Server Lion software did not adequately inform Apple's customers or Apple's support arm, as I unfortunately learned after upgrading to Lion Server. The support people made a heroic effort, which came to no avail.

    Thus, I would not recommend using Time Machine to back up Mac OS X Server unless for some reason you do not need to restore the PostgreSQL data, in which case you probably don't need Mac OS X Server at all.
  6. kiwipeso1 Suspended


    Sep 17, 2001
    Wellington, New Zealand
    That's not what the OP was asking at all, so I would suggest that it's not relevant in this thread. Cheers.
  7. JamesPDX Suspended


    Aug 26, 2014
    It helped me. I have the server and have been on the fence about using TM in server rather than machine-by-machine.
  8. apple-ette thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2009
    Thanks all. I will continue with the direct connect method. I swap two ext drives on a weekly basis to off-site to mitigate the burglar, etc. scenario.

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