Can MacBooks (late 2010 Air in particular) backup when in hibernation mode?

The reason why I am asking this is because I want to backup my MacBook air at midnight however I am not sure if my computer will be in hibernation mode when its midnight. I want to backup at midnight because I cannot back it up when using it during the day.


No, but you can get the same effect as I use this app to keep my mac running for a back up at night time http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/37991/nosleep

  • Thank you for suggesting NoSleep. I have all ready used it but I don't want to forget to turn it off. This is because when I get to college it would all ready have used 40 mins worth of battery. – iProgram Feb 28 '15 at 17:19
  • Just remembered. You can choose to never sleep on battery. I can also make a script for it too. – iProgram Feb 28 '15 at 17:53

If your MacBook Air has flash storage, supports Power Nap and is connected to a power adapter at night, then it will back up to Time Machine when in sleep. If any of these criteria is not met, then the backup will not take place.

A firmware update is required for the late-2010 MacBook Air to support Power Nap. Make sure that all updates are installed in the Mac App Store and you can check for Power Nap functionality in System Preferences → Energy Saver → Enable Power Nap….

For more information on Power Nap, see:


Apple does not use the term “hibernate”, so I assume you mean “sleep”.

Macs that support Power Nap can make Time Machine backups while they’re in sleep. This includes the late 2010 MacBook Air.

Apple offers a support article subtitled “Learn about Power Nap and which Macs can use it” which says:

About Power Nap

While sleeping, Power Nap allows your Mac to do things like periodically check for new mail, calendar, and other iCloud updates. When plugged into AC power, Power Nap can also perform things like Time Machine backups to an AirPort Time Capsule [...]

Macs that can use Power Nap

The following Mac computers can use Power Nap. Some of these computers may require an SMC update in order to use this feature. [...]

MacBook Air (Late 2010) with OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.2 and later. [...]

Turning Power Nap on or off

You can turn Power Nap on or off in the Energy Saver pane of System Preferences. It is enabled by default on supported computers when connected to AC power. [...]

How often does Power Nap check for updates or back up?

[...] Time Machine backups are attempted hourly until a successful backup has been completed. [...]

Although the article may make it seem like this only works with an AirPort Time Capsule, I can confirm that it also works with a regular USB hard drive.

Here’s Console showing that my Mac (a late 2010 MacBook Air) went to sleep at 20:34, then was woken for Power Nap at 21:04, made a backup and went to sleep again:

20:34:51 kernel: AirPort_Brcm43xx::powerChange: System Sleep 
20:34:52 kernel: **** [IOBluetoothHostControllerUSBTransport][SuspendDevice] -- Resume -- suspendDeviceCallResult = 0x0000 (kIOReturnSuccess) -- 0x8800 ****
20:34:52 kernel: **** [IOBluetoothHostControllerUSBTransport][SuspendDevice] -- Suspend -- suspendDeviceCallResult = 0x0000 (kIOReturnSuccess) -- 0x8800 ****
21:04:47 kernel: Wake reason: RTC (Alarm)
21:05:23 com.apple.backupd: Starting automatic backup
21:05:23 com.apple.backupd: Backing up to /dev/disk8: /Volumes/Time Machine HD/Backups.backupdb
21:05:26 com.apple.backupd: Will copy (38.3 MB) from MacBook Air SSD
21:07:40 com.apple.backupd: Backup completed successfully.
21:07:42 kernel: AirPort_Brcm43xx::powerChange: System Sleep 
21:07:42 kernel: **** [IOBluetoothHostControllerUSBTransport][SuspendDevice] -- Resume -- suspendDeviceCallResult = 0x0000 (kIOReturnSuccess) -- 0x8800 ****
21:07:42 kernel: **** [IOBluetoothHostControllerUSBTransport][SuspendDevice] -- Suspend -- suspendDeviceCallResult = 0x0000 (kIOReturnSuccess) -- 0x8800 ****

Note that Macs enter either “standby mode” or go into “safe sleep” after they've been asleep for a while. The support article “OS X: Saving energy with Sleep” says that “for Mac computers that are started from an mechanical hard drive, OS X includes a deep sleep mode known as safe sleep.” while “for Mac computers that are started from an solid-state drive, OS X includes a deep sleep mode known as Standby Mode.”

Apple's support article isn't so clear on the interaction between the deep sleep modes and Power Nap. However, as far as a late 2010 MacBook Air is concerned, which uses the standby mode variant of deep sleep: the article on standby mode says that “for a notebook to enter standby, it must be running on battery power”, while as explained above, Power Nap only makes Time Machine backups when the Mac is not running on battery power.

  • I thought Apple did use hibernate. Thought it went sleep -> deep sleep (aka hibernate) – iProgram Mar 8 '15 at 10:53
  • 1
    A search for “hibernate” in Apple's support articles (support.apple.com/kb/index?page=search&q=hibernate) only gives me three articles in which the term occurs. But you're right about Macs having a “deep sleep mode”. I've extended my answer to include some more information about this. – Rinzwind Mar 8 '15 at 22:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .