Sunday, May 31, 2009

How to use Time Machine with a Buffalo Terastation NAS

I always thought how convenient a Time Capsule would be. But I was always discouraged with the cost. I already have a 802.11n Wifi router and already have a NAS too. It was just plain impossible to justify the cost of getting a Time Capsule.

So I looked around to see if there were any other solutions. And I found one. Unfortunately I do not know how it compares to Time Capsule as I do not have one (yes, some investigation needed here). But it does what I need to do and that is take a regular backup of my system.

In my environment I am using a Buffalo Terastation Live with 1TB of storage. The file system where the backups are stored is a 1TB external USB hard drive connected to the Terastation.

Step by step procedure is listed below:

  1. So first things first. In order for your Mac to store backups on NAS drives, you have to change a system property. Please refer to the following command:

    MacBook :~ mactimes$ defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

    Restart your system in order for the changes to take effect. Once done, Time Machine will allow your system to use a Network drive (non-standard drives in general) to backup your system. But unfortunately, there is still more to do. The application has difficulties creating the backup file and the work around is to manually create this storage container (known as SparseBundle) for Time Machine.

  2. Turn off Time Machine in order to complete the next steps.

  3. Run the following command to grab the MAC address from your Network Interface. This is recreated when creating the backup file.

    MacBook :~ mactimes$ ifconfig en0 | grep ether

    Make a note of the MAC address and remove the colon marks. This and the hostname are required for the naming of the backup file.

  4. Create the "sparesebundle" file on your local file system. We will copy it to the NAS server later.

    MacBook :~ mactimes$ hdiutil create -size 300g -fs HFS+J -volname "Backup of MacBook" macbook_001b63b14f57.sparsebundle
    created: /Users/mactimes/macbook_001b63b14f57.sparsebundle

    note: The "-size" is the max size that you allow the file to grow to. Supply the size which fits your requirements
    note: HFS+J is file type, this does not change.
    note: -volname is the name you configure for your backup file.
    note: output name is [hostname]_[MAC address].sparesebundle

  5. Move the file to the File Server

    MacBook :~ mactimes$ mv macbook_001b63b14f57.sparsebundle /Volumes/usbdisk1/

  6. Now is the moment of truth. In Time Machine Systme Preferences Panel, select "Change Disk". It will display the volumes you can backup to. It should display the volume you moved the file to. If your share is not listed, ensure that the NAS is mounted. Also, if you haven't rebooted after Step 1, please be sure to reboot then try again.

  7. Before starting Time Machine, you will want to stop the indexing on your backup file, else your system will become extremely slow. To do this go to "Spotlight" in your System Preferences. In the Privacy tab, add the share where you copied the backup file.

  8. From here, just turn on Time Machine and let it run. You should get a successful backup although it can take time to complete depending on how much data your hard drives are using.
Now that is it. I have been using this technique to do regular backups and usually let it run over a night during the weekend. So far I have had no issues although I have only recovered one or two files since enabling it.

Just as a note, the technique mentioned above is clearly a hack and not promoted by Apple in any way. I will not be held liable for any data loss especially since I have not fully tested a full recovery myself. This technique worked well for me but I am guessing depending on the hardware used, mileage may vary. If you have any issues, I am more than willing to help for the setup although I cannot guarantee this technique for your environment. Please use at your own risk. If you do have success with this technique, please comment to let others know.

MacTimes Reopening!

Last year this website was started with the intention to give everyone useful information about the Apple Mac. But as time went by, I gradually lost the ability to post any new information.

The site was eventually shut down but after realizing how much I missed the site, I extracted all the data from backups and migrated it to Unfortunately I lost the design from all the php code that I developed but at least the information was preserved. So please be patient with the plain design of the site while I learn how to customize it into something more attractive.

Thanks for coming by and looking forward to your continued support.

MacUpdate Bundle Pack

The guys over at MacUpdate have started selling their new bundle pack for Spring 2009. Normally I wouldn't get too excited over these packages but this one has some very interesting applications included all for $49.99. The special offer only lasts for 2 weeks until June 12th. So for anyone interested in these wonderful apps act quickly.

There are 2 in particular which I will highlight: Parallels Desktop 4 & TechTool Pro 5.

I previously purchased Parallels desktop 3. It is an application that allows you to virtually run your Windows OS within your Mac. I purchased this so I could easily run Windows or Windows applications in case I could not do what I needed on the Mac.

TechTool Pro is a utility application for testing, repair and maintenance. It gives you an overview of your basic computing environment such as CPU, memory load and disk space. Apple includes a version of this application in its AppleCare Protection Plan.

The list of applications in this bundle include the following:
  • TechTool Pro 5 (valued at $98.00) - Utility tool to check the health of your RAM, hard drives. Can be used to repair problems and optimize performance
  • Parallels Desktop 4 (valued at $79.99) - Virtualization tool for running Windows inside of Mac.
  • NetBarrier X5 (valued at $49.95) - Firewall for the Mac!
  • Circus Ponies Notebook 3 (valued at $49.95) - Organization tool for taking notes
  • DVDRemaster Pro 5 (valued at $49.99) - Backup DVDs, and conversion to iPod, iPhone and AppleTV
  • Multiplex (valued at $35.00) - DVD management and movie playback
  • RipIt (valued at $18.99) - Extract DVDs to your hard drive
  • MoneyWell (valued at $49.99) - Finance management software with direct connect banking and envelope budgeting
  • Paperless (valued at $44.95) - Scan and manage your receipts
  • Posterino (valued at $24.95) - Create posters, postcards and photo frames using photos stored deep within your hard drives
  • BetterZip (valued at $19.95) - Zip compression tool
For the first 20,000 buyers, they also included 2 bonus applications:
Today, they just added a new application for the first 25,000 buyers.
  • Voila (valued at $39.95) - Tool allowing you to capture windows on your screen and store, organize and share them.
It keeps getting better and better!
And again, it only lasts until June 12th.