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A reliable backup solution that allows WHS to backup Apple Mac (OSX) RRS feed

  • Question

  • We have five PCs connected to WH and backup works fine. Unfortunately, a good method to backup our nice Macbook Air has not been found.

     

    We have tried to copy important files using SMB (server nessage block) protocol, but it failes due to various SW errors. Some descriptions exists on how to accomplish this, but none have been stable. Also third party backup SW like Retrospect does not support WHS.

     

    There is a big need for a SW product that makes the WHS compatible with Time Machine. Alternatively, backup SW that is able to store and restore Mac partitions on WHS.

     

    I guess Microsoft will not prioritize such a product so this is a golden oportunity for a third party developer!

     

    Per Hassel

     

     

    Monday, July 14, 2008 7:25 PM

Answers

  • To use Time Machine to back your Mac up to an SMB share that ordinarily wouldn't be supported:

    Connect to the drive in the finder, then in a terminal session run:

    defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

    (Courtesy of some web site I can't remember; I noted the information but not the source.)

    I'll also note that the inability to use Time Machine to back up a Mac without changing that default setting has nothing to do with Windows Home Server, and everything to do with Apple and the Mac.
    Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:53 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • To use Time Machine to back your Mac up to an SMB share that ordinarily wouldn't be supported:

    Connect to the drive in the finder, then in a terminal session run:

    defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

    (Courtesy of some web site I can't remember; I noted the information but not the source.)

    I'll also note that the inability to use Time Machine to back up a Mac without changing that default setting has nothing to do with Windows Home Server, and everything to do with Apple and the Mac.
    Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:53 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for your tip Ken.

    Unfortunately, when Time Machine is involved things are quite complicated. We have tested this setting some time ago. This setting does enable selction of SMB server shares as Time Machine destinations but backup still fails, at least in OSX 10.5.2.

    But your tip gave me some clues on where to look, so here I have put together a procedure that for now works and enables Time Machine to use WHS as repository (somewhat tested on OSX 10.5.2 running on MacBook Air).

     

    Backing up Macs to WHS using Time Machine on OSX 10.5.2:

     

    1. First install required update. This fix is required in OS X ver 10.5.2 to improve Time Machine SMB handling (SMB is a protocol used between PCs for regular file sharing in a LAN). This update also fixes some bugs in the wireless network support. This fix can be downloaded from Apple. Without this fix our Mac crashed when 20% of backup was done. Link: http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/timemachineandairportupdatesv10.html

     

    2. Start finder and connect to the network backup share on the WHS server.

     

    3. The setting TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes=1 needs to be in the systempreferences for the SMB share to be selectable as a Time Machine destination. This can easiest be done by starting a terminal session and enter defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

    You may check that it is correctly written by giving the command defaults read and finding the entry near the end of the systempreferences file.

     

    4. Go to Time Machine settings and select the share as destination - it should now be visible.

     

    5. The backup should now start automatically after 120 s. In OSX 10.5.2 the backup will fail but you should be able to save the name of the file in the WHS share catalog before the file becomes deleted after a minute or so. The file is called something like "machine name"_wireless mac adress.sparsebundle.  If your machine name contains spaces or is longer than 8 characters, change it. Make sure your machine name does not include spaces, symbols, etc. (just numbers and letters) and keeping the name of under 8 characters before starting the backup attempt. Backup can be restarted by deselecting the destination folder, and then reselecting it. What you need is the sparsebundle file name. (A eight alphanumeric machine name is maybe not needed with the fix mentioned above - but I changed it anyway)


     

    6. Open the program Disk Utility to manually create a sparsebundle. The Help file tells you how. Use the first part of the filename "machine name"_wireless mac adress but leave the .sparsebundle out. As part of the creation process, you will be prompted to assign a size to the sparsebundle. Select a size less than that of your NAS volume's physical capacity (and it is probably a good idea to leave an ample amount headroom so that Time Machine has space to do its thing, minimum the size of the disk being backed up). The file will typically be less than 100Mbyte when it is created so don't worry about the size for now. Put it on your desktop. Unfortunately, I can only vaguely describe the settings for this file since the setting naming on our system is in Norwegian but here is at least some clues: No partition, no encryption, format MAC OS extended journalled standard, packeted disc image.

     

    7. Copy the newly created sparsebundle file to the WHS share root. Make sure there is no trace left of the previous attempts to create the file. Also delete any .xxxxxxxxx files in the root (this is maybe only valid on non-WHS Linux based NAS?). In WHS Explorer the sparsebundle file will be shown as a folder. When you have it on the share, delete it from the desktop, but save the name - you might need it again.

     

    8. Remove the backup share from Spotlight. It helps makes things go faster. Go to System Preferences - Spotlight, then under the "privacy" tab, click on the Plus sign and add the backup share under devices.

     

    9. On the WHS console disable duplication on the share used for Time Machine backups  (This is as a safety measure for as long the data corruption bug still exists)  

     

    10. Now start the Backup by selecting the WHS share as destination in Time Machine settings.

     

    Following this procedure our backup presumably works, at least for now backing up from MacBook Air via WiFi to a HP WHS. Unfortunately it runs quite slow so testing takes time. Also, restore is still untested. As one can see, this is quite complex and there is many things that can go wrong so "shrink wrap" SW should be developed.

     

    Here are the sources used to put together this procedure: 

    http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20080420211034137 

    http://www.99.se/mac-os-x/242612-att-f-time-machine-att-fungera-med-windowsserver-via-samba.html (Swedish)

    http://babygotmac.com/a/leopard-1052-airport-express-and-time-machine/

    http://www.tuaw.com/2008/03/19/time-machine-and-airport-updates-1-0/

    http://uneasysilence.com/archive/2007/10/12595/

     

    Per Hassel

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008 12:25 AM
  • After trying to back up entire Mac following the procedure above, it failed after approx. 4 hours. I belive it was finished with the backup and was closing the file. The message box on the Mac screen said that the sparsebundle was write protected. When I tried to open it in finder I got a message stating it was possily corrupt. Restore of selected files in Time Macine did work though.

     

    The share is still write enabled and has plenty of diskspace so I still belive the write protect error the Mac reports is not the problem. I have not given up yet, but it is clear that the Time Machine and WHS still have some problems cooperating.

     

    Per Hassel 

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008 7:30 AM
  • HP resolved this issue in the EX495 series WHS... which allows Time Machine to backup to a directory on the server that I believe gets formated for the MAC.  Getting HP to offer this software would be nice...

    ed:)

    a bit slow
    Monday, February 22, 2010 11:23 PM
  • ...
    Getting HP to offer this software would be nice...
    Extremely unlikely; it's an HP market differentiator.

    Edit: a tiny bit of Googling (or you can use Bing, if you prefer) finds me this blog post, which looks like a complete walkthrough (not specific to Windows Home Server, however) that's recent enough to have a good chance of success. I'll note that the point above about turning off duplication for the Time Machine backup share on your server is probably a good idea...

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, February 23, 2010 3:03 AM
    Moderator