Time Machine Backup Not Working or Stuck on macOS Mojave

 
 

Time Machine Backup Not Working or Stuck on macOS Mojave

Overview: Time Machine not working after upgrading to macOS Mojave? We have come across situations where users are not able to backup data using Time Machine after upgrading to macOS Mojave. Today in this article we will troubleshoot Time Machine backup issue on Mac. Troubleshooting applies to all macOS.

Let’s Start with Few Practical Scenarios

Scenario 1: Time Machine Backup Hang – Locating Corrupted File

I’m running into an issue with my Time Machine backups. When I begin a backup, the progress bar shows movement (i.e. xx. Xx GB / yy.yy GB) and estimated completion time. However, as of last month, it gets to a certain point, says around .3 GB left to be backed up, and just stays there with the estimated completion time disappearing.  After waiting for the backup to “finish” or just stop, I find in the settings that Time Machine didn’t backup successfully since the “Last Backup Date” had not been updated. I tried reading other forum posts similar to this and followed suggestions of checking the health of my drives, deleting the backup. InProgress file found in Time Machine and restarting my computer. After reading other people’s stories, I am convinced that my issue is a corrupted or un-backup-able file. I tried using the Time Machine Buddy widget to log the backups to show where the hang-up is during the backup process, however, the widget does not seem compatible with Mojave as it reads “No Time Machine information found” whenever I try. Is there another method to figure out which files are causing the hang-up? A certain file/group of files causes my Time Machine backups to hang, halting the backup process from progressing at the same spot. How do I identify those files after without using the Time Machine Buddy widget?

Source: Apple Forum

Scenario 2: Mojave time machine back up failing

Since installing 10.14 have not been able to complete a full backup using a time machine to external drive. All disks check out on disk utility first aid both under OS and stand-alone utility under recovery. Have erased and reformatted the external drive. Still no success. The backup begins and runs up to about 80GB ok, then fails. Restart by “back up now” continues for about 500MB and then fails again. My full backup is about 900GB so I am running unprotected. I believe this is a Mojave problem, not a drive problem. Any ideas?

Source: Apple Forum

Steps to Follow When You Cannot Back Up or Restore Mac with Time Machine

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Make Sure You Have Basic Requirement to Use Time Machine

  • External Hard drive to connect to your Mac’s USB, Thunderbolt or FireWire port.
  • Time Capsule or macOS server on the Network
  • External hard drive to connect to the Mac’s USB port of an AirPort Extreme Base Station on the network

Update Mac

Make sure Mac is up to date. Try restarting the Mac if the issue persists.

  • To download macOS software updates, go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences and then click on Software Update.

Update Mac

  • You can also select Apple menu, choose About This Mac and then click on Software Update.

Also, get the Latest Update for Time Machine.

Make Sure AirPort Firmware is Updated

In case you are using an AirPort Time Capsule or a hard drive with AirPort Extreme Base Station, ensure AirPort firmware is updated. To learn how to update AirPort firmware visit this link.

Make Sure Network is Same

In case you are using an AirPort Time Capsule or a hard drive with AirPort Extreme Base Station, ensure that both Mac and the backup drive is connected to the same network.

Check the Time Machine Backup

Press and hold the Option key on the keyboard and while holding the Option key, click on the Time Machine menu in the menu bar and select Verify Backups.

In case, Time Machine comes up with an issue with the backup, it will show a message with the details. Follow the onscreen instructions provided on the screen.

Check the Drives

  • When connected a drive to a Mac port or AirPort Extreme Base Station, ensure that the drive is on.
  • When using a USB hub, connect the drive directly to the Mac/base station.
  • When using the external third-party drive ensure the drive’s firmware is updated.
  • Check the formatting of the external drive. Time Machine needs an external drive to be formatted like a Mac startup disk: Mac OS Extended (Journaled) with a GUID Partition Table (GPT).
  • When you reformat a drive, it will erase all the data stored on the drive, so back up the data first.
  • In case, the drive has been formatted properly, turn off the Time Machine, then check it for the issue.

In order to check the drive of an AirPort Time Capsule, visit this link.

In order to check an external drive connected to the Mac, launch Disk Utility from the Utilities folder of your Applications folder. Use First Aid feature in Disk Utility to verify the disk. Follow this for the startup disk too.

Steps to Follow When You Receive Message “You Must Create a New Backup”

Try retrieving the data from the existing backup: Select Back Up Later, click on the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and select Enter Time Machine. Use the arrows and timeline to select the backups which contain the files which need to be retrieved. Time Machine prompts again later to start a new backup.

How to create a new backup: Select Start New Backup. Your existing backup is deleted, and the data backs up completely only after the new backup is finished.

In case, you use Time Capsule to back up, visit the Apple Support website to ensure the latest firmware is up to date.

You may receive a backup verification failure message if you use network backup solutions from a third-party manufacturer or there is a hardware issue with the backup drive.

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Steps to Follow When Time Machine Backup Takes a Long Time

  • Use the Time Machine menu to see the progress of the backup. While backing up the data, the Backing Up indicator will help you know the progress.

Backing up indicator on Time Machine

  • Check Your First Backup- When you back up your Mac for the first time with Time Machine, it may take a long time because the Time Machine copies all the data on your Mac to the first backup. Continue using the Mac while Time Machine backs up your data in the background.
  • Check the Changes in Backup- When changes are made to a lot of files or a large change are done since the last time you backed up your Mac then Preparing may take a long time. Time Machine will not back up the files in case backup drive is disconnected or turned off. When you use a mac without a backup drive for a long time, it may take a longer time. If you are using virtualization software like VMWare or Parallels, this software creates a large drive image, time machine may try to back up the complete disk image. Contact the virtualization software company to use Time Machine with this software. You can also skip these files from backup. After installing new software or upgrading to new macOS, it may take a long time to backup but it should be faster after that. In case the previous backup was discontinued or interrupted before because of improper shutdown or drive was not ejected, it may take a long time.
  • Check the Internet Speed- A slow Wifi connection may result in longer backup time. Visit this link to fix Wifi issue on Mac.
  • Check the Antivirus- Make sure that antivirus on your Mac is up to date. In case, antivirus is causing the backup issue, remove the backup drive from virus scan.
  • Check the Drives- Back up may be slow if any of the drives are faulty. In case of AirPort Time Capsule, unplug the AirPort Time Capsule from power, wait for 10-15 seconds, plug in AirPort Time Capsule to power. The indicator light on the Time Capsule is green if the built-in drive on the Time Capsule is fine. If there’s a problem, the light is amber. launch AirPort Utility, connect to the Time Capsule to know more about the problem, in case issue is not resolved, you might need to delete the drive using AirPort Utility, after making an additional backup with Time Machine and different drive. In case, you cannot delete the drive, then the Time Capsule might need a repair. For other drives, launch Time Machine preferences and turn the Time Machine off, then with the use of Disk Utility, verify the startup disk, external backup drives. Turn the Time Machine on once the drives are verified or repaired successfully.

Delete Time Machine Plist

Unable to create a snapshot?

Go to MacHD > Library> Preferences

Delete com.apple.TimeMachine.plist

Delete the .inProgress File

  • Cancel the backup
  • Go to the Finder, Find the Time Machine Drive and open Backups.backupd folder.
  • Open the folder which is named after the current folder
  • Look for the file contains .inProgress
  • Delete that in Progress file.

.in progress files

Fix Time Machine Error “The backup volume could not be found”

  • Hard drives that are erased
  • Go to the Apple menu, Select System Preferences.
  • From the View menu, select Time Machine.
  • Click Change Disk…
  • Choose the backup location again.
  • The hard drives which sleep and does not wake for Time Machine backups
  • Disable the sleep function of the external drive.

Time Machine: Fix Backup Issues

When Time Machine is not able to finish a backup, check the error message that prompts or go to the System Preferences, select Time Machine preferences and click the red i icon for more information.

Time Machine Backup error Mac

Messages that are usually seen when clicking the red i are:

  • The backup volume is read only.
  • No volumes to be backed up were available.
  • Unable to complete backup. An error occurred while copying files to the backup volume.
  • The backup volume could not be mounted.” or “The backup volume could not be found.
  • Time Machine could not be configured…

Update the Software

No matter what is the error or issue, make sure that software is up-to-date.

In case you are using Time Machine with Time Capsule, ensure Time Capsule is updated with the latest software and firmware.

Fix Message Preparing phase takes a long time

Time Machine always tracks the files and folders which have changed since the last backup to only back up those files and folders. In case, Time Machine is unable to keep track of files and folders which have changed since the last backup, it checks the present files with the backup. During this time, Time Machine preferences show a Preparing message for a long time.

Fix Message Time Machine starts a new, full back up instead of a smaller incremental backup

Three possibilities for this message:

  • Full restore was performed by you.
  • The Mac Name was changed- when the system name changes, Time Machine performs a complete backup on next backup time.
  • Hardware repair. If the system is repaired recently, you can still recover previous backups by making a right-click or Control-clicking the Time Machine Dock icon, and choosing Browse Other Time Machine disks from the contextual menu.

Fix Message Some items are not backed up

In case, Time Machine does not back up a specific file, there is a possibility that you marked it as Do not back up in Time Machine preferences.

To exclude files from the Do not back up

  • Select System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  • On the View menu, select Time Machine.
  • Select Options.
  • See in the Do not back up To exclude an item that you do not need in the list, select that item and select Remove (-).
  • Select Done.

Fix Message: The disk (volume name) was not repairable by this computer. it is being made available to you with limited functionality. You must back up your data and reformat the disk as soon as possible

Steps to repair your Time Machine’s backup:

  • Select System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  • On the View menu, Select Time Machine.
  • Slide the slider bar to Off to disable Time Machine backups.
  • Launch Disk Utility present in /Applications/Utilities.
  • Repairing of backup depends on where Time Machine stores the backups:

Steps to store backups on a Time Capsule.

  • Mount the Time Capsule.
  • Launch a Finder window and locate the Time Capsule in the sidebar.
  • Double-click the Time Capsule.
  • Select the Backups folder and locate the backup sparsebundle.
  • Drag the sparsebundle to the Disk Utility sidebar.
  • Choose the sparsebundle and click on Repair.
  • In case the repair is successful, try to backup through Time Machine. In case, repair is unsuccessful, delete the sparsebundle and start a new backup.

Steps to use external hard drive to store backups.

  • Mount the external hard drive.
  • From Disk Utility, locate the external backup drive. the backup drive should mount in the Disk Utility sidebar when attached to the Mac.
  • Choose the external backup drive.
  • Select Repair.

Steps to Use another Mac with Mac OS X v10.5 on a network or store backups on a server.

  • Connect to the other Mac or the server where Time Machine stores backups.
  • From Disk Utility, the Mac or server with your Time Machine backup should mount in the sidebar when connected.
  • Choose the backup server.
  • Select Repair.

Fix Red i message: “The backup volume is read only”

Steps to repair your Time Machine’s backup:

  • Select System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  • On the View menu, Select Time Machine.
  • Slide the slider bar to Off to disable Time Machine backups.
  • Launch Disk Utility present in /Applications/Utilities.
  • Repairing of backup depends on where Time Machine stores the backups:

Steps to store backups on a Time Capsule.

  • Mount the Time Capsule.
  • Launch a Finder window and locate the Time Capsule in the sidebar.
  • Double-click the Time Capsule.
  • Select the Backups folder and locate the backup sparsebundle.
  • Drag the sparsebundle to the Disk Utility sidebar.
  • Choose the sparsebundle and click on Repair.
  • In case the repair is successful, try to backup through Time Machine. In case, repair is unsuccessful, delete the sparsebundle and start a new backup.

Steps to use an external hard drive to store backups.

  • Mount the external hard drive.
  • From Disk Utility, locate the external backup drive. the backup drive should mount in the Disk Utility sidebar when attached to the Mac.
  • Choose the external backup drive.
  • Select Repair.

Steps to Use another Mac with Mac OS X v10.5 on a network or store backups on a server.

  • Connect to the other Mac or the server where Time Machine stores backups.
  • From Disk Utility, the Mac or server with your Time Machine backup should mount in the sidebar when connected.
  • Choose the backup server.
  • Select Repair.

Fix Red i message: “No volumes to be backed up were available.”

The reason for this message may be due to the volumes are in the Do not backup list. To see the list, launch System Preferences. Click on Options in the Time Machine preference pane, check in case you have not excluded all available volumes.

Fix Red i message: Unable to complete backup. An error occurred while copying files to the backup volume

Restart your Mac and try the backup once again.

Fix Red i message: The backup volume could not be mounted or The backup volume could not be found

Visit this link, Mac OS X 10.5.3 or later: Time Machine – “Backup volume could not be mounted” after changing network volume’s password 

Fix Red i message: Time Machine could not be configured. The built-in network interface could not be found

  • From the Finder’s Go menu navigate to /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/
  • Copy the file plist to the desktop (to make a backup).
  • Delete the file plist.
  • Reboot the Mac.
  • Once rebooted, reconfigure the Network and Time Machine preference panes in the System Preferences.

In case, the issue persists, contact Apple.

Wrap Things Up

I hope this article helped you to fix the Time Machine backup issue on macOS Mojave.

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