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I have an external SSD plugged into a mac mini, this drive is used solely for TimeMachine backups. I'd like to also use this drive for backing up my MacBook.

I've done lots of testing & searching, but still coming stuck.

File Sharing is on for the mac mini, & in advanced options, "Share as Time Machine backup destination" is enabled. Users have R&W permissions. In my MacBook, when I select TimeMachine preferences, I can see the drive & select it in the Macbook, however when it tries to connect, it effectively times out with "There was a problem connecting to the server. The server may not exist or it is unavailable at this time. Check the server name or Ip address, check your network connection and then try again".

I've tested connecting to the smb://url form the mac & not luck. I've also tried sharing an internal storage folder from the Mac mini and I can't access this between machines.

This leads me to think it's a network configuration issue, however I don't understand how the MacBook can see these devices (through TimeMachine), yet not connect them. I've checked permissions & even created a subfolder not he TimeMachine drive with full R/W permissions & shared that, no luck.

MacMini is running macOS Sonoma 14.1.2 MacBook is running macOS Monterey 12.7.4

Have tried accessing the Mac Mini from my iPhone throughout he SMB directory. No access, doesn't prompt for logins credentials etc.

Have shared a folder from my macbook, both the MacMini & my iPhone can connect to this & mount the drive.

So it seems the issues is external sources accessing my MacMini.

Can't anyone point me in the next area to explore? I'm very much a noob in mac world - have a fair bit of debugging these types of things on windows where it makes much more sense to me! Thanks in advance!

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I found my answer. Reboot the mac Mini. No idea how I didn't try this int he preceding 3 hours....

try it, it might just save you a ton of faff.

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