I'm thinking of upgrading to macOS High Sierra, however I'm a bit cautious with the APFS, also because it just came out.

Are you able to use Time Machine on a Mac with APFS-formatted disks with an Apple Time Capsule that uses an HDD an older file system (HFS+)

My guess is it won't work so you have to also manually convert the Apple Time Capsule to APFS.

2 Answers 2


Having an APFS-formatted system backed up to an HFS+ Time Machine/Time Capsule disk is actually the currently intended use case. The current version of Time Machine supports APFS only as a source disk, not as a destination. In fact, if you format your Time Machine backup disk to APFS, Time Machine will re-format it back to HFS+ before using that disk. This was discussed in WWDC 2016, and appears to still be true.

APFS does not support directory hardlinks, a feature of the filesystem used by Time Machine. Until Time Machine is rebuilt to take advantage of APFS features (like snapshots) instead of hard links, APFS won't be usable as a destination disk.

Also, I personally just backed up my APFS laptop to my usual HFS+ backup disk via Time Machine, so there is some empirical validation.

  • Thanks for your help and providing the links and your own experience !
    – MFJC
    Oct 3, 2017 at 9:37

Yes, you can use a normal Time Capsule that is not APFS-formatted with APFS-formatted disks.

APFS and Time Machine

You don't need to change any Time Machine settings to back up APFS-formatted disks. Any Time Machine share points must be shared over SMB instead of AFP.

Source: Apple.com

This applies to Apple’s TimeCapsules as well. They are just network attached hard drives with Wi-Fi routers made by Apple.

  • Thanks what about that "use SMB instead of AFP" ?
    – MFJC
    Sep 26, 2017 at 10:22
  • You may need to remove your Time Machine's disk and re-add it so macOS will mount it correctly.
    – oa-
    Sep 26, 2017 at 10:25
  • what do you mean by remove ? Sorry but I'm not very familiar with configuring the Time Capsule.
    – MFJC
    Sep 26, 2017 at 10:28
  • Also, your very useful link and quote above, thanks again, only mention Time MACHINE but not Time CAPSULE. A time machine could also be a third party external SSD drive that someone configures as a Time Machine, in that case the "you don't have to change anything approach from Apple" makes sense, but Apple's Time CAPSULE comes with a hard-drive, at least the one I bought in 2016.
    – MFJC
    Sep 26, 2017 at 10:30
  • To remove a Time Machine disk go to System Preferences > Time Machine > Add or Remove Backup Disk.... Select your disk, click 'Remove Disk' and add it back again.
    – oa-
    Sep 26, 2017 at 10:45

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