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Time Machine on my computer is trying to backup onto a external hard drive, but the only thing I get is the famous beach ball of death which makes my computer extremely slow.

When I go to cosole.app I see with regular intervals following messages:

2012/04/27 10:13:43     com.apple.backupd[425]  Error: (-36) Creating directory freds mac 39
2012/04/27 10:14:49     com.apple.backupd[425]  Error: (-36) Creating directory freds mac 40
2012/04/27 10:15:54     com.apple.backupd[425]  Error: (-36) Creating directory freds mac 41
2012/04/27 10:16:34     com.apple.service_helper[545]   com.apple.backupd-auto: Already loaded
2012/04/27 10:16:34     com.apple.service_helper[545]   com.apple.backupd-wake: Already loaded
2012/04/27 10:16:34     com.apple.service_helper[545]   com.apple.backupd-attach: Already loaded
2012/04/27 10:16:34     com.apple.service_helper[545]   com.apple.backupd-auto: Already loaded
2012/04/27 10:16:34     com.apple.service_helper[545]   com.apple.backupd-wake: Already loaded
2012/04/27 10:16:34     com.apple.service_helper[545]   com.apple.backupd-attach: Already loaded

Why does time machine have problems creating a directory if I was able earlier to make a full backup of my computer and what do those lines mean from the service helper?

I am running Mac OS X 10.6.8 on a MacBook 1.1 (late 2006) (I know, it's a little bit old, but 1 day ago it was able to do TM backups)

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Great detail, great question - despite it being a bit of a "guessing game". Since you have a backup that's a day current, it would be interesting to see if you did a safe boot (hold the shift key while booting) and attempt a backup. If it doesn't resolve the issue, it may narrow down the culprits for guessing. –  bmike Apr 30 '12 at 14:31
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1 Answer 1

First, make sure your external drive is plugged into wall-power, not bus power.

Second, check your system.log for I/O errors. If you find any, then one of your drives may be failing. See my article Recover Failing Hard Drives

Third, verify both your boot drive and backup drive in Disk Utility. Do not attempt this until you have confirmed that there are no I/O errors! Verifying the backup drive may take a long time (twenty minutes or more) as there are a lot of hard-links to check. Repair if needed.

If that checks out, try locating a folder named "freds mac"... unless that's the name of your boot volume. If its not the name of your boot volume, then rename it and try the backup again. For more Time Machine tips see my article Recommendations for System Backups: Time Machine Tips

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I like your approach. Maybe you can add or improve answers under a nearby question, What free or open source software can I use with Mac hardware to verify integrity of every block of a disk where Core Storage is used? –  Graham Perrin Jul 27 '12 at 9:27
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