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I tried to upgrade a MacBook Air from macOS Sierra to macOS High Sierra. It rebooted and entered a black screen while the machine got very hot for about 30 minutes. I ended up turning off the machine and my drive was no longer bootable.

Before I did this, I made sure I had two backups on our macOS Sierra Server, configured with the Time Machine Server. We have a two Drobos attached to the server and our Macs backup to each Drobo in round-robin fashion.

I also did a "Backup with Consistency Check" on each of the two drives and I did a "Verify Backups" and all was fine.

Since I could not longer boot the MacBook Air and I was sure I had two good backups, I wiped the Mac and installed macOS High Sierra from the recovery partition. It installed fine.

However, at the point where it asks if I wanted to transfer from a backup, I chose that option but macOS won't find the backups. I waited 8 hours, and still it didn't find them.

So, I chose "Other Location" and I specified the server and SMB share name, and it added it but then said the share was unavailable. I don't have the exact error messages with me, and I'll update my question later with the exact errors and possibly screenshots.

I completed the macOS High Sierra installed, mounted and authenticated to the Time Machine server, and accessed the Time Machine backup sparsebundle. Then I launched the Migration Assistant. Again, it did not find the backups. Plus, if I add them, I get the same error (I will provide later).

How can I restore my MacBook Air from a Time Machine server backup?

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I ended up calling Apple support and they apparently don't know to restore a Time Machine backup from a Time Machine server either. So I took matters into my own hand:

  1. Copied sparesebundle from TM server to USB drive.
  2. Attached USB drive directly to MacBook Air.
  3. Mounted sparsebundle and started Migration Assistant.
  4. Restore the data.

At first I tried to restore without mounting the sparsebundle and wile the computer name from the backup file will show, no backups show. You must mount the sparsebundle.

  • Thats what I was just about to tell you to do. – Maximus Aug 22 '18 at 15:27
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You may need your Macbook to "inherit" the older backups if TM believes this is now a different machine, e.g. if its drive-name got changed during the broken HS install attempt or for whatever other reason. A terminal command, tmutil, can do a bunch of magic on TM volumes (or, as the Sorcerer's Apprentice found out, a bunch of shenanigans as well! Read carefully and work slowly.)

Here is an article about inheriting a backup set TM doesn't otherwise believe belongs to this machine.

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