Time Machine over a Network Drive

This post describes the steps involved when setting up Time Machine to backup to a Network Drive. These steps are only required if you want to back up to a device other than a Time Capsule. It is pretty quick and easy, so without further due, lets get started.

Step 1: Enable network backups in Time Machine

In a terminal window cut/paste the following command: defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

Update: Steps 2 & 3 are only required if you are not running Snow Leopard. If you are, then all you need to do is mount the network drive you wish to use as a Time Machine destination, and then proceed to Step 4.

Step 2: Create Timemachine backup volume

In a terminal window cut/paste the following command: hdiutil create -fs HFS+J -volname "Backup of computer-name" computer-name_[mac address without':'].sparsebundle

The simplest way to obtain your mac address is to open a terminal window and type the command: ifconfig -a, and look for the section of the output where it says: ether 00:33:44:55:66:77

The simplest way to obtain your computer name is to open a terminal window and type the command: hostname, it will return the name of your computer, example, my-hostname.

Putting it all together, based on the above examples, you would run the following command:

hdiutil create -fs HFS+J -volname "Backup of my-hostname" my-hostname_003344556677.sparsebundle

Step 3: Copy file created in step 2 to network Time Machine backup destination*

Using finder or terminal, copy the newly created .sparsebundle file to the place you want your Time Machine backup to reside.

Step 4: Open Timemachine preferences, and the network drive should show up as a backup target

If for some reason it doesn’t, try opening and closing the Time Machine preferences, as it may take a moment for it to detect the newly available network drive.

Step 5: Rest easy knowing your mac is now backed up to a network storage volume.

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