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The SSD on my 2015 MacBook Pro died, and I got it replaced with a used SSD from another MacBook containing Catalina. The machine boots now normally, ready to restore from backup.

I tried to restore from Time Machine backup in the Command+R mode. I can connect to the Synology NAS where I have the TimeMachine backups, and see the backups of our family. When I select my "Peter's MacBook Pro" backup as the source, it churns for about 2 min with a "Looking for macOS system backups..." message, then shows a "No macOS system backups were found" message. So I can't proceed with the restore.

Logging in to the NAS I can see that the backup is there:

  • directory Peter's MacBook Pro.sparsebundle
  • sub-directories bands and mapped, the latest files in there match the day when the SSD failed, e.g. it's the most recent backup)
  • files info.bckup, info.plist, lock, token, 4 files starting with com.apple.*

Googling I found that the extension changed from .sparsebundle to .backupbundle in Catalina, so I renamed the directory, and tried to restore again. No luck, same error, so I reverted the name change.

I suspect the reason why the backup does not work is that the OS is different. I think I had High Sierra, but I am not sure. I looked at the files in the backup, but none of the content of the XML files indicate the OS version.

I also tried to downgrade the OS from Catalina to High Sierra, but got an error message.

I am currently making a copy of the backup to an external 2 TB hard disk (the backup is 1.25 TB), which should finish in 7 hours.

I am at a loss this time. Any idea how to get the backup recognized?

UPDATE 2023-04-27

After many trials and errors I got the restore finally working:

  • rename the extension from .sparsebundle to .backupbundle
  • connect Time Machine to the NAS => it'll state no backups
  • do a backup => latest backup shown as of today
  • reduce the quota of the Time Machine user to have 500G free space left
  • do another Time Machine backup => this forces Time Machine to clean up the backup and get rid of older snapshots
  • enter Time Machine => older backups are now shown!
  • restore

Moral of the story: Do not rely on Time Machine, it's too buggy! I am installing an rsyc cron to sync all files below my home directory to the NAS. I still use Time Machine, which is useful to restore single files.

I am posting this here in case anyone has the same issue.

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  • idk how the NAS structure may change how this all works, but restore to a different OS isn't likely to work properly. Migration, so long as it's old to new OS would be a better bet.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 21, 2023 at 8:13
  • @Tetsujin: I tried the Migration Assistant approach, I can connect to the NAS, and see the list of backups of all family members. My backup is stuck in "Loading backup...". I left it for the whole day, after 8h it reverted back to the screen where you select the server to restore from. Mar 22, 2023 at 2:41
  • Hmmm… sorry, I don't know enough [or anything] about NAS structures to help furtehr.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 22, 2023 at 15:59
  • I also copied the backup to an external hard drive, it took 29h. Unfortunately the Migration Assistant does no show any drives when I chose the local computer to migrate either Mar 22, 2023 at 16:45
  • You would be advised to post your solution as an answer to your question, rather than editing it into the OP. In that way you can mark it as the accepted answer. Good work on finding a solution. Apr 27, 2023 at 17:33

1 Answer 1

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After many trials and errors I got the restore finally working:

  • rename the extension from .sparsebundle to .backupbundle
  • connect Time Machine to the NAS => it'll state no backups
  • do a backup => latest backup shown as of today
  • reduce the quota of the Time Machine user to have 500G free space left
  • do another Time Machine backup => this forces Time Machine to clean up the backup and get rid of older snapshots
  • enter Time Machine => older backups are now shown!
  • restore

Moral of the story: Do not rely on Time Machine, it's too buggy! I am installing an rsyc cron to sync all files below my home directory to the NAS. I still use Time Machine, which is useful to restore single files.

I am posting this here in case anyone has the same issue.

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