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External drive shows backups but TC does not

640 Views 9 Replies Latest reply: Nov 3, 2012 1:43 PM by beddoe RSS
beddoe Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Oct 26, 2012 4:33 PM

A while back Time Machine could not complete a backup to my Time Capsule (1 TB) because there was not enough room. So I set Time Machine to back up to my external hard drive, which is also 1 TB, and the backups proceeded smoothly. A few days ago I wanted to see again whether TM could back up to my TC, and it didn't work, so I erased the drive on my TC. I tried again, and backups were still unuccessful. If I have the TM preferences set to back up to my TC, I see no backups at all in TM. Then I set TM preferences to back up again to my external drive, and all is proceeding smoothly. In addition, when I go into TM, I see not only the backups that have been recorded since I switched back to the external drive, but I also see backups over the period of time that I supposedly had TM set to back up to TC.

iMac, Mac OS X (10.6.8)
  • Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (75,395 points)
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    Oct 26, 2012 5:00 PM (in response to beddoe)
    A few days ago I wanted to see again whether TM could back up to my TC, and it didn't work, so I erased the drive on my TC

     

    Erasing the drive on the TC would have removed all the data from the drive.

     

    I tried again, and backups were still unuccessful

    Please list the steps that you performed and what happened after each step. If  you received any error messages, what were they?

     

    If I have the TM preferences set to back up to my TC, I see no backups at all in TM.

    You mentioned that you erased the TC drive, and have not been able to backup to the TC, so it would be logical to expect that you would not see any TM backups at all on the TC drive.

     

    Then I set TM preferences to back up again to my external drive, and all is proceeding smoothly

    Understood

     

     

    In addition, when I go into TM, I see not only the backups that have been recorded since I switched back to the external drive, but I also see backups over the period of time that I supposedly had TM set to back up to TC.

     

     

    This confirms that backups have only been occurring to the external drive. You might have thought that you had them set to backup to the TC, but it is pretty clear that you did not. It's an easy mistake to make when you have backups directed at two different destinations.

     

    Suggest that you concentrate on getting backups to the TC going again. We can likely help if you can......

     

    Please list the steps that you performed and what happened after each step.

     

    If  you received any error messages, what were they?

     

    Confirm that you are using the 10.6.8 operating system as your profile indicates.

  • Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (75,395 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 28, 2012 1:01 PM (in response to beddoe)

    I have asked Pondini, who is the resident guru on the Time Capsule and Time Machine to take a look at this.  Please stay tuned.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
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    Oct 28, 2012 1:45 PM (in response to beddoe)

    beddoe wrote:

    . . .

    Eventually I saw it said 87.3 GB of 87.3 GB or something like that, and I stopped the process.

    Why did you stop it?  And how? 

     

    Since the drive was empty, TM should have backed-up everything on your system, except for some system work files, caches, etc.

     

    Note that when a backup fails, the partial backup remains on the TM drive until the next backup completes successfully (so Time Machine doesn't have to copy all the same stuff again).  If subsequent backups fail, there may be more leftovers.  So there's probably a great deal of data on the TC, but not where you can see it -- the browser only shows completed backups.

     

    You might want to erase the TC's disk again, and start over.

     

    How old is the TC?  If it's more than 2 or 3 years, it's possible the disk (or, less likely, the TC itself) is beginning to fail.  When you erase it again, connect via Ethernet cable if at all possible, and select the Zero Out Data option.  If that fails, you know there's a problem with the disk:

     

    Screen Shot 2012-10-28 at 4.40.49 PM.png

     

    When you do the next backup, also do it while connected via Ethernet if at all possible.

     

     

    Then I started Time Machine and I received the msg:

    The Current Time Machine Backup Disk can't be found.

    Sounds like OSX or Time Machine has lost track of the TC.  You may need to re-select it on the TM Preferences window.

     

    Warning: Bytes to copy estimate was negative (-2387598973)

    Ordinarily, that's a directory problem on the drive being backed-up.  But since the backup then worked fine to the other disk, perhaps not.

     

    How much is TM backing-up?  If it's only backing-up your internal HD, right-click it in the Finder, select Get Info, and see how much is "Used."  Also check the Estimated size of full backup under the exclusions box in Time Machine Preferences > Options.  See if they agree.

    24-inch early 2009 iMac, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2), 2010 1TB Time Capsule
  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
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    Nov 1, 2012 2:52 PM (in response to beddoe)

    beddoe wrote:

    . . .

    Time Machine Backup box shows "Backing up..." bar churning. No other text.

    Not sure what you mean by "Time Machine Backup box."  A separate window with a progress bar?

     

    Any backup should have some text and a progress bar on the Preferences window, something like this:

     

    shapeimage_1.png

     

    Any backup should show some text when you click the TM icon in your menubar.

     

    An initial backup (to a new or erased drive) will have a separate progress window, in addition to the above.  Is this the first backup to your Time Capsule?

     

     

    Three hours later, at 10 pm, still churning, with no other text. I went to bed and the computer was supposed to shut down as usual at midnight.

    It's not a good idea to interrupt the first, full backup.  It's recommended to set your Mac not to sleep (much less shut down) until it's done. 

     

     

    At 5 am when I tried to turn it back on, it had not completely shut down and was in what I call a state of limbo. No icons.

    I'm not sure what you mean -- was everything runnng except Time Machine? 

     

     

    When I got home from work today at approx 4 pm I saw the Time Machine Backup box again, churning, with this text below the churning bar (the bar has blue all the way to the end as always throughout the process, but churning): 135..41 GB of 135.41 GB, but both numbers seem to increase from time to time by the same amount to remain identical. Above the  bar it says Backing up 177,690 items.

    How much data is on your internal HD?  It sounds like there may be a problem with the directory on it, causing the estimtate to be too small.

     

     

    I've finally comprehended why the light on the external drive continues to flash. It seems that it's backing up there rather than to the TC hard drive, where it is supposed to be. There is an icon for ™ backups on the desktop, but  the external HD icon is not the green with circle that indicates the drive to which backups are being made.

    Doubtful.  Is the icon a disk, or a disk image?  Backups made over a network, such as to a Time Capsule, are made to a disk image which TM mounts when a backup is running.  That's probably what you see.

     

    If your exxternal HD has a light flashing, then either it's being backed-up, along with your internal HD, or something else is reading or writing to it.    Check Time Machine Preferences > Options and make sure the external is listed in the exclusions box, so Time Machine doesn't try to back it up.

     

     

     

    (One thing that occurred to me early this morn is that in normal times I don't see a backup "progress" bar. Just the menu bar icon turning and a desktop item representing backups that goes away after the backup is done.)

    Yes that's normal.  You only see a separate window on an initial backup.

     

     

    So now at 4:30 pm I am starting Time Machine and it takes a minute or so to connect to the backup volume (TC) and I see backups! There are only backups from today, not yesterday: 3:48 pm, 2:49 pm, 1:49 pm, 12:48 pm, 11:50 am and 10:40 am.

    It sounds like none of yesterday's backups completed;  each subsequent attempt added to what had been copied before.  When one finally finished, it was dated today.   Thereafter, each backup should be very small, as it's only the things that have changed or been added since the previous (completed) backup.

     

    Then I switch to my external drive for backups so I can look at it in Time Machine

    You don't have to do that.  You can use the Browse... option, per Time Machine - Frequently Asked Question #17, to see backups for a different Mac, or on a drive that's not the one currently selected.

     

     

    But it sounds like your backups are now working properly. 

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 3, 2012 10:43 AM (in response to beddoe)

    beddoe wrote:

    . . .

    No, this happens once or twice per week anyway. Before I turn it on, I tap the spacebar to see if it has. If it has, the screen comes on to show the desktop without any icons or menu bar and the inability to do anything. I shut it down with the power button and then power it up again.

    That's an odd one.  I don't think it has anything to do with Time Machine.  You might want to post a separate thread for that in the https://discussions.apple.com/community/mac_os/mac_os_x_v10.6_snow_leopard

    forum.

     

     

    Actually, the numbers kept climbing, slowly, and remained identical as they increased.

    If that continues on subsequent backups, it might be a directory problem on your internal HD.  See #C18 in Time Machine - Troubleshooting (it describes a different symptom, but may have the same cause).

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