Time Machine over LAN to external USB drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by tuna, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. tuna macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    #1
    Over half of my small office now uses Macs, which is great but our corporate backup system does not cover them.

    I need to back up 3 Macbooks, 2 running Lion and 1 running Snow Leopard. I can upgrade the SL to Lion if that will help.

    I have a 1TB USB hard drive to do the job with. This is plenty of space. I have already partitioned it into 3 separate drives so that each of the Time Machines can be done on a separate partition. I backed up 2 of the 3 computers yesterday by plugging in the hard drive and running Time Machine... but now I'm thinking that there might be a better way: a way where all the users could automatically back up to their time machines over the LAN, so that they would back up more frequently and with less hassle.

    We have a Mac Mini running Lion behind the conference room TV that I could easily use as a server to share this USB hard drive.

    What do I need to do to get my USB drive and its 3 partitions shared over the network, and what do I need to do to get the 3 users automatically backing up to their Time Machine partitions whenever they are on the LAN?
     
  2. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #2
    Backing up over the network with Time Machine can be problematic. If users have an excellent 802.11n, backup can be smooth. If quality is not excellent or if speed is 802.11g or less, backups can become corrupted and are thus rendered completely useless. I have lost 2 backups due to corruption caused by network problems and one due to a failed power supply in a first gen Time Capsule.

    What I do today is back up to a usb drive plugged in to my replacement Time Capsule over either gigabit ethernet or 802.11n. Any users with slower connectivity to the Time Capsule use local USB instead.

    As for backing up from one Mac to another, I would think this could be done. One approach I would consider is the following. This assumes everybody has 802.11n OR BETTER connectivity to your machine. Go ahead and delete those 3 separate partitions. I would create a sharing account on your Mac for them to log into. That account would have write permission to write to the entire USB drive. When the users connect to your Mac (the one sharing the USB drive), they mount it and then pick "use this volume for backups". Another thing I would do is use Time Machine Editor.app to limit the times TM is running. If TM runs and your machine is not available on the network, it will use up each users' hard drive making "local" backups.
     
  3. tuna thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    #3
    Wow that corruption issue is very sad. I would think that Apple could integrate checksums or something to prevent data being copied incorrectly. Well I've been playing around with shared folders and I noticed that Time
    Machine makes it an option to back up to shared folders... I am going to give it a try.

     
  4. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #4
    Apple has released some patches to Time Machine, some of which make specific mention of issues I had and for which I sent files to Apple engineering (at the request of level 2 support), but I've been burned a few times so I choose not to trust Time Machine with the only copy of my data. Today I have 3 copies. I have a TM backup to an external USB drive plugged into a TC (mentioned earlier), I have a TM backup to a local firewire drive on my Mac that I only allow to update rarely and I have crashplan (paid) backup to their servers so if my house gets hit by a meteor, all my stuff is still available.

    One of the glitches was pretty silly. Apple was allowing OS X to sleep in the middle of Time Machine backups and this was causing the corruption early on. The most recent corruption I ran into was my wife's Mac mini backing up via wifi 802.11g. The backup was completely useless and I had to restore her stuff from crashplan, which ran over the same crappy wifi and worked just fine. I have not run a gigabit ethernet wire to her machine and she backs up to the Time Capsule and to crashplan.
     

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