I just started using Time Machine for backup of my late 2009 MBP.

So far it's backing up only OS X partition and ignoring Bootcamp partition. I also see the point Time Machine completely ignores NTFS and FAT32 partitions.

Looking for solution/ hack to include Bootcamp partition also included in my Time Machine backups.

  • Even if you could back it up, how would you use the backup and would you expect Time Machine to restore the data? Since NTFS data doesn't have fsevents, time machine might never track the changes and make hundreds of copies of the same files.
    – bmike
    Jun 16, 2011 at 21:03
  • Using Time Machine to back up Bootcamp is not a good idea from the gitgo. What if you used windows for a long period and did not boot the mac. No windows backups!
    – user92002
    Sep 25, 2014 at 3:35
  • Time Machine does not ignore all NTFS drives. I've happily backed up an NTFS drive for the past year -- I even had my iPhoto library on it -- mounted with the Tuxera NTFS driver. But I agree Time Machine has always refused to backup my BootCamp partition. I remove it from the exclude list, and tho TM gives me no error message, it just puts it back straight away Sep 19, 2015 at 21:55
  • Can Time Machine backup Bootcamp data in 2020? Feb 5, 2020 at 20:24

4 Answers 4


This may well be too late to be helpful, but it is quite possible to back up a Boot Camp volume via Time Machine. (And the previous answerer clearly didn't even understand the question, since he appears to be talking about writing backups to an NTFS drive.)

In fact, it's really easy. Rename the 'BOOTCAMP' volume to anything other than 'BOOTCAMP' and Time Machine will recognize it as a back-up-able drive. Then go to the Time Machine preference panel and click on 'Options...' You should now be able to select your NTFS volume and remove it from the exclusion list. Next time you run a backup, it will back up the NTFS drive.

HOWEVER: It may not be possible to restore a bootable NTFS drive from a Time Machine backup, due to permissions issues, metadata, etc. (Restoring would involve installing NTFS-3g or otherwise mounting an NTFS volume as read/write, and then restoring files to that, too, so remember there's an extra step.) Given that, though, it's a good way of saving your data files on Windows, if you have enough room on your backup drive.

If I have time, I may try a full restore from my backup to my boot camp partition. If I do, I'll record the results here.

EDIT: This may only work with 10.6, and/or may only work if you have MacFUSE and NTFS-3G installed.

EDIT: As far as I can tell, this has not worked correctly since 10.7. I have not yet tested it with 10.9, but in both 10.7 and 10.8 the boot camp partition is not backed up no matter what it is named.

  • I really wonder how much space is used with this trick? Does TimeMachine see the file changes correctly (i.e. not miss files that did change and not back up files that haven't)
    – bmike
    Jun 16, 2011 at 21:04
  • Time Machine attaches metadata to every file that it backs up, not merely in its backup volume but to the original file as well.
    – geekosaur
    Jun 17, 2011 at 0:38
  • @geekosaur - do tell more on how Time Machine actually writes metadata to each file it backs up. Does it write that metadata to TimeMachine volume only, or does it modify metadata on the original file each pass. I'm not up to speed on the intimate details of fseventsd but I assumed that process logged things and Time Machine just read from it's store and didn't do any local writing to the source files other than to copy them...
    – bmike
    Jun 17, 2011 at 15:37
  • Doesn't work for me, on 10.14.
    – whoKnows
    Feb 15, 2020 at 2:33

Time Machine relies on extended attributes that can't be stored in FAT32, and since OS X doesn't come with NTFS support Apple hasn't defined a way for Time Machine's extended attributes to be stored in NTFS, so even with NTFS-3g Time Machine wouldn't know how to keep its metadata.

Any hack to add this support would have to hook into the guts of Time Machine, and as far as I know Apple hasn't provided any way to do this.

  • I'm confused - wouldn't it be more of an issue of NTFS attributes that don't save well onto HFS+? (I read your answer as focusing on the other direction) Of course, Time machine might have a horrible time trying to restore data from HFS+ to NTFS since it reads only and won't write to NTFS volumes. NTFS data can quite plainly be ensapsulated on HFS as a disk image or how VMWare and Parallels store NTFS data on the "mac side" where Time Machine will gladly back up that data.
    – bmike
    Jun 16, 2011 at 21:02
  • Any foreign extended attributes can be encapsulated and stored into HFS+ extended attributes, so the main problem is where Time Machine stores its own metadata.
    – geekosaur
    Jun 17, 2011 at 0:36
  • Got it - I wasn't reading your answer correctly to match my view that "without fseventsd tracking the NTFS data, TimeMachine may not work as you expect" Luckily, by nature the NTFS data should be static whenever Mac is running so TimeMachine won't stomp all over race conditions as the NTFS data is being written at the same time as a back up event.
    – bmike
    Jun 17, 2011 at 15:34
  • Although this wasn't the question being asked here, you can tell Time Machine to backup to an NTFS drive using a sparsebundle containing a TM preference file (as it does for network drives) - cafe-encounter.net/p1847/… Sep 19, 2015 at 21:57

What I ended up doing is using an external USB drive, but partitioning it into 2 pieces, one with HPFS+ for Time Machine and the other with NTFS for Windows 7 backup.

This actually makes it where you have 2 different backups. One for OS X through Time Machine, another for Windows 7 through Windows 7 Backup. Make sure to make a restore CD from Windows 7.

When you go to restore, first you will restore OS X, then go through the Boot Camp partitioning process. When it's time to boot from the Windows CD, wait for it to boot, then shut it down and put the restore CD in (making sure the backup drive is attached). Then go through the restore process for Windows.


It sounds like you want Winclone, which will generate an image from your Windows partition, and allow you to restore that image to another partition.

As others have said, Time Machine only works with Mac partitions, by design. But Winclone is a package designed for Mac users to take clones of Windows partitions from within OSX.

It is not free (it costs $30), but you did not explicitly say that you needed a free solution.

I am not affiliated with the people that produce Winclone, but I am a satisfied user.

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