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I am trying to recover a nearly-2TB backup of a Mac, whose sparsebundle file was located on a NAS and suffered some corruption. I have followed the steps here, and the sparsebundle is now accessible by both Time Machine and Migration Assistant. However, they only show me one choice for recovering the backup (the most recent one).

Mounting the sparsebundle in Finder shows me backups from 4 dates, which is correct, and I am interested in any of the earlier 3. Additionally, here is the data from the file com.apple.TimeMachine.SnapshotHistory.plist, which also shows the 4 backups:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
    <key>Snapshots</key>
    <array>
        <dict>
            <key>com.apple.backupd.SnapshotCompletionDate</key>
            <date>2013-11-21T17:37:20Z</date>
            <key>com.apple.backupd.SnapshotName</key>
            <string>2013-11-21-123720</string>
            <key>com.apple.backupd.SnapshotTotalBytesCopied</key>
            <integer>2011005404937</integer>
        </dict>
        <dict>
            <key>com.apple.backupd.SnapshotCompletionDate</key>
            <date>2013-11-22T08:04:32Z</date>
            <key>com.apple.backupd.SnapshotName</key>
            <string>2013-11-22-030432</string>
            <key>com.apple.backupd.SnapshotTotalBytesCopied</key>
            <integer>7208602218</integer>
        </dict>
        <dict>
            <key>com.apple.backupd.SnapshotCompletionDate</key>
            <date>2013-11-22T23:58:38Z</date>
            <key>com.apple.backupd.SnapshotName</key>
            <string>2013-11-22-185838</string>
            <key>com.apple.backupd.SnapshotTotalBytesCopied</key>
            <integer>111986052</integer>
        </dict>
        <dict>
            <key>com.apple.backupd.SnapshotCompletionDate</key>
            <date>2013-12-04T21:16:16Z</date>
            <key>com.apple.backupd.SnapshotName</key>
            <string>2013-12-04-161616</string>
            <key>com.apple.backupd.SnapshotTotalBytesCopied</key>
            <integer>53164333190</integer>
        </dict>
    </array>
</dict>
</plist>

How do I go about repairing the sparsebundle so I can have Time Machine restore one of the earlier backups? My last resort would be copying everything over by hand, but this would be messy, as well as incredibly time-consuming due to the large amount of data. I have spent many hours on this and have had headache after headache, any help is extremely appreciated!

  • Can you tell us what is inside the .sparsebundle i.e. what the sub-directories look like and if there is any differentiation between dates? Corrupted sparse bundles aren't fun and I am sorry to hear of your troubles. Knowing what you see when it comes to the actual directory tree would be a big help though :) – Andrew U. Dec 30 '13 at 13:46
  • Have you found a way to repair your backup? I have the same problem. Thanks. – user79399 May 31 '14 at 0:15
  • I could have swore there was a way to chose the backup date to restore from in Migration Assistant. Now that I search for it I can't find instructions anywhere. What I would try is tricking Migration Assistant to looking at a different backup folder. Try renaming the newest backup, and also change the folder that the Latest Backup alias points to. – Fyrefly Oct 10 '14 at 18:16
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Not completely sure if it will works since I don't know when the snapshot was taken (before or after an update). You can go into your system preferences, spotlight, privacy tab, add your hard drive, reboot, remove the hard drive from spotlight and let the spotlight re-index (this can take a while). Try going into time machine again.

Updates have messed up Time Machine when doing a clean install and upgrade for quite a few people and this was the fix.

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If all else fails I have (over the last few days) been recovering files on my corrupted backup drive with Photorec. Photorec is part of TestDisk, and despite the name knows how to recover many more file types than just photos, including music and Office documents. It seems that the sparesbundle bands still leave most files contiguous on the disk, so they can be found and recovered. It needs to run locally to the HDD, so in my case that involved ssh login to the NAS (WD Mybook Live) and installing TestDisk there with apt.

I set it to save all the recovered files to an NFS-shared folder on my Mac The commands below are from memory, ssh root@backup.local apt-get update apt-get install testdisk mount 192.168.0.11/Users/andypugh/share /shares/stuff

You will definitely want to be selective about what file types you tell photorec to look for. It finds many thousands of false-positive .gz files unless told not to, for example.

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