Running OS X Catalina, I am unable to initiate backups of any sort from Time Machine. The target disk is an external drive with plenty of space (multiples of the space on the internal drive I'm trying to back up). Here's the UI error I get:

UI Error

Digging in under the hood, I find console errors from backupd that look consistently like this:

Failed to create APFS snapshot with name
  'com.apple.TimeMachine.2019-11-17-174139.local' on volume
  error: Error Domain=NSPOSIXErrorDomain Code=28 "No space left on device"

However, there is space on this drive:

free space

In case the cause was a file system error, I rebooted via Internet recovery and ran:

fsck_apfs /dev/disk1

and found no errors.

I tried to re-enable local snapshots, but it appears that command is no longer available in Catalina:


Any idea how to get Time Machine backups running again?

note: This question seems similar to this question, which also does not appear to have a satisfactory answer.

  • 1
    Less than 2GB really doesn't qualify as 'space'. You really need to keep a good 10-15% drive space clear, especially on these small modern drives.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 7:30

1 Answer 1


As @Tetsujin suggested, the problem was indeed lack of space on the startup drive that I was trying to back up.

With 30Gb free, Time Machine was able to initiate a backup and stopped returning errors. (That is not likely the minimum limit; I just found something large and deleted it.)

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