Just curious if it is at all possible to have Time Machine backup to the 'cloud' using Amazon Simple Storage Solution. I've setup Time Machine to work over the network before to unsupported volumes (NTFS) but wasn't sure if this is possible. Anyone ever tried?


Dolly Drive is newly-announced software that lets you do TimeMachine backups to "cloud storage". Their docs say the space is their own cloud-based storage space, not S3, so that might be sticking point. But other than that it's pretty much in line with what you're after.

In addition to doing the TimeMachine -> cloud bridge, they also help you duplicate your data to a local drive so you can do fast restores without having to wait for delivery of an cloud -> hard drive dump of your data.

Looks promising. I'm lukewarm on the pricing.


If you have an extra ec2 instance, you could use netatalk and s3ql. It is a native time machine solution and works in Lion too. Your backups will be compressed and deduplicated.

From Ubuntu:

Install S3QL (1.11.1) and netatalk (2.2.1)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nikratio/s3ql

sudo aptitude update

sudo aptitude upgrade

sudo aptitude install s3ql netatalk

Create S3QL authfile

mkdir ~/.s3ql
vi ~/.s3ql/authinfo2

Edit S3QL authfile as follows:

storage-url: s3://  
backend-login: $AWSKey  
backend-password: $AWSSecretKey  

Set permissions on authfile

chmod 600 ~/.s3ql/authinfo2

Create S3QL filesystem

sudo mkfs.s3ql s3://$bucketName

Mount S3QL filesystem

sudo mkdir /mnt/$bucketName
sudo mount.s3ql --allow-other --nfs --compress lzma s3://$bucketName /mnt/$bucketName

Configure netatalk

sudo vi /etc/netatalk/AppleVolumes.default

Edit the bottom of AppleVolumes.default to appear as below:

(Note: tm is also added to :DEFAULT: options. Volsizelimit is in MiB# :DEFAULT: options:upriv,usedots,tm

/mnt/$bucketName  "S3 Backups"  volsizelimit:238418.58

Create User for backup

sudo useradd $username
sudo passwd $username

Set ownership of the backup drive to the backup user

sudo chown $username /mnt/$bucketName

Then select Go -> Connect to Server -> and enter the server IP or hostname from the finder. Make sure you have port 548 open!


There is a FUSE-based project calles s3fs that claims to be able to mount an Amazon S3 bucket as a local volume. Since Time Machine seems to be able to use any locally available volumes as a target, this should work. I was not able to test this, however.

  • Thanks for the response! I'd seen it but was hoping someone else had tried this before (I guess I can be the guinea pig this time). Cheers! Jan 26 '11 at 17:24
  • @jstarek: so does that mean time machine can backup to your idisk? Jan 26 '11 at 17:26
  • TimeMachine has all kinds of trouble sync'ing to non-HFS+ formatted shares. I know I went through hell and back trying to get remote TimeMachine backups to an SMB share, shared out from my Windows server. I gave up after a time. I'd like to hear if anyone's successfully used a FUSE-mounted drive for a TM backup.
    – Ian C.
    Jan 26 '11 at 18:16
  • @Ian me also, I'm going to give it a try today and see where I get but would love to hear if anyone else has had any success! Jan 26 '11 at 19:49
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    @Ian @Kevin, I have been reading a bit more about this and it looks like a lot of people are having problems. Additionally, dolly drive is actually about 1/3 the price of using S3! I think that its going to be the better (and far simpler) solution. Thanks for the feedback tho.
    – mrwooster
    Feb 2 '11 at 11:34

A different approach would be to use a local Time Machine backup and then use something like Arq to move it to the cloud (automatically). You get the benefit of local storage + cloud backup.

  • Yeah, I've thought about doing something like this but ultimately wanted a backup solution that wouldn't require me connecting to an external hard drive or time capsule. I'd like something that works on the road, etc. Thanks for the response though! Jan 26 '11 at 17:25
  • The only downside to this approach is you have to detect and active TimeMachine backup in progress before you do the sync. Otherwise you might be sync'ing a filesystem that's not in a steady state.
    – Ian C.
    Jan 26 '11 at 18:15
  • @Ian it's possible to avoid this sort of "clipping" if you program TM and Arq to do it at certain hours. But yes, this requires a local storage anyway. Jan 26 '11 at 19:05
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    @Kevin as an alternative you can use Arq directly :) (I do) You lose the benefit of "time" machine, but you have a backup in the cloud :) Jan 26 '11 at 19:06

If you can get Time Machine to recognize a FUSE-mounted filesystem, then s3backer should work.

I have never done this but would be interested to hear if anyone gets it to work (specifically how they got Time Machine to recognize the mount).

See also this wiki page.

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