How can I do "Time Machine" from my Mac OS X 10.6.4 to my Window share drive? I'd also prefer to encrypt my image, so it's "safe" just in case :-)

  • How are the machines connected ? – Studer Aug 19 '10 at 14:45
  • Over VPN, but initially I can connect them to same LAN – alexus Aug 20 '10 at 18:29

In order to create a Time Machine backup to an unsupported drive (pretty much anything that's not formatted HFS+) you need to run the following Terminal command:

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

Your share will now show up as a valid Time Machine destination in the Time Machine Preference Pane.

Time Machine will then create a disk image on that drive that will act just like a HFS+ drive for Time Machines purposes (hard linking, etc.). One advantage of using a disk image over using the entire drive is that you can limit the size it will grow to of the disk image using Disk Utility.

Be sure to check Louis Gerbarg's answer as well for why it's unsupported and you have to jump through a hoop to enable it.

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  • but doing that isn't sufficient, you've gotta create disk image as well – alexus Aug 19 '10 at 16:33
  • @alexus: Time Machine makes the disk image for you. – Chealion Aug 19 '10 at 18:30

There are various hacks to setup a diskimage on the share, which I am sure other people will describe in depth. Having said that DO NOT USE SMB TO STORE TIME MACHINE BACKUPS.

Guaranteeing writes on a disk image backed over a network store is complicated. Apple had reliability issues with Time Machine over AFP for years, and they controlled the entire stack. In order to guarantee write ordering and write stability (which are necessary in order for Time Machine to work in the presence of intermittent networking, such as walking out or range of the base station or putting the machine to sleep midbackup and waking it up out of range) Time Machine depends on features specific to AFP (For those interested, those are published as part of the Time Machine Network Server Requirements).

If you want to backup to a Windows Machine you should probably get a copy of ExtremeZ-IP, if it is a linux box running SAMBA you should install netatalk.

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I did not test this solution, but looks someone did a little write up for this: OSX Timemachine and Samba/Windows share « Hupio’s Weblog

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Unfortunately, I don't believe you can. From the Time Machine help docs:

Time Machine can’t back up to an external disk connected to an AirPort Extreme, or to an iPod, iDisk, or disk formatted for Windows.

EDIT: Ignore this answer. As mentioned in comments, Apple's own documentation is out of date.

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  • That documentation is slightly dated, recent updates to the AirPort Extreme do allow a USB drive to be plugged in and used as a Time Machine storage device. AirPort Extreme + 1 TB USB disk = cheaper and just as effective (I've used one for recovery, worked fine) Time Capsule :) – David Aug 19 '10 at 15:28
  • Even if the disk is Windows-formatted? Huh. News to me! – Scott Aug 19 '10 at 15:42
  • true, I actually used to use an external USB drive to do time machine in the past, but now I need to make it to work w/ Windows share and I know it's possible to do – alexus Aug 19 '10 at 15:42
  • @Scottie: Well, not a Windows formatted disk. The relevant part of the documentation likely still applies, but the external disk on the AirPort Extreme part is dated. – David Aug 19 '10 at 16:07
  • @Scottie - Also bear in mind that when backing up to a "Windows share" the true format of the disk (Windows NTFS, FAT32, EXT3, etc) becomes irrelevant. – muddybulldog Aug 19 '10 at 17:52

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