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Ziv Jacoby Level 3 Level 3 (655 points)
Hi all,

I have several users on my network and I use my server to manage their home directories on our RAID disk farm.
Is it possible to have time machine backup their home directories data?


MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.3)
  • MattLucas1505 Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
    It is possible, at least in theory, but I'm personally having difficulty with that very thing.

    The way I have it set up is to have a share point on the server which is set as a Time Machine backup destination (under the Sharepoint tab in the bottom half of the window).

    Now in theory, you should assign Read/Write permissions for all the users (or rather for the appropriate group) on that Sharepoint. You can then go into Time Machine on the user profile and it will display that Sharepoint as an available Time Machine destination. You have to authenticate to the server at this point with a relevant account and this is where it seems to falll down. On mine, the only authentication it will accept is a network admin account (which none of my users are with the exception of me).

    So the upshot is that what seems to happen in practice is the users will back up successfully to that destination, but when you try and restore anything from the user profile itself, it is greyed out. All you can restore is something from outside the user profile (presumably because the network admin account I authenticated with doesn't have read privileges to the user profile).

    If you can get it to accept a user account at the Time Machine authentication request, then you should be home and dry. Let me know how you get on.
  • Ziv Jacoby Level 3 Level 3 (655 points)

    I'm a little bit confused.
    You mentioned enabling time machine in user's profile. The only way I see to activate the time machine is inside the preference pane. If I do this I enable time machine for the whole system. That is not what I want (apart from the problems you mentioned). What I want is to backup only the user's data.
    Is that possible in the way you mentioned?

  • MattLucas1505 Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
    Well, like I say, yes in theory. You're right, doing it this way does back up the entire machine and as I mentioned earlier, I'm having problems getting it to work successfully.

    A slight amendment to what I posted earlier is that I can now authenticate to Time Machine using a user account (as opposed to an admin account), but the end result is still the same.

    The only way I can see to back up just the user accounts using Time Machine would be to set up Time Machine on the server to back up to your RAID array, and go into Options within Time Machine preferences and tell it NOT to backup everything except the user accounts. However I think that although backing them up using this method would work, you would have trouble restoring to any level of granularity because, being an admin, you wouldn't be able to browse the user profiles to restore individual files or folders - you'd have to either restore the entire profile as one, or give yourself Read/Write permissions to each and every user's home folder and its contents.

    You have to remember that Time Machine was never meant to be a sophisticated backup solution - it was meant to be simple because it was aimed at the common end-user who wouldn't know anything about schedules and rotating backups and so on. So you may find that what you're trying to do is rather more capability than Time Machine allows. The same goes for me, lol.
  • Ziv Jacoby Level 3 Level 3 (655 points)
    That is exactly what I want it be be simple. Having the admin backing up all the data is impossible, because this user does not the right permissions to access all data.

    From your answers I understand that there is no way I can use time machine for AFP users as they were a regular users on my mac.

  • MattLucas1505 Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
    I don't think so, no. I think it's designed to work for home users, and adapted to work for network users, but not to any degree of complexity - which I think means that if you don't want to use it the way Apple expects you to use it, you can't use it at all.

    At least, I think that's the case.

    The nearest you're going to come is the way I'm trying to do it, assuming I can get it to work myself.
  • tibor.moldovan Level 1 Level 1 (125 points)
    Hmm, I have servers with networked homes on it and they're using Time Machine to make backups.

    Now Time Machine can be flakey but it seems to work overall.
  • Ziv Jacoby Level 3 Level 3 (655 points)
    How did you defined it?
    As far as I understand the time machine preferences are for the computer and not for the home directories. For example if I login in one machine do something and than login in a different machine the data will not be stored in the same image.

    Do I understand it correctly?

  • tibor.moldovan Level 1 Level 1 (125 points)
    OK, just to be sure we're both talking about the same thing.
    I am not using the TimeMachine service provided by Standard or Workgroup configuration of the server.

    I have the Advanced configuration which provides network home directories.
    So when users move across the different machines, (ours generally don't) all their data is stored live on the server.

    What I do then, is enable the TimeMachine on the server itself and specify my 3rd internal disk as the TimeMachine disk.
  • Ziv Jacoby Level 3 Level 3 (655 points)

    And how did you configure time machine to do this?

  • tibor.moldovan Level 1 Level 1 (125 points)
    Just like a normal time machine.

    Either in the system preferences, or if you have it up in the menu bar.

    (just like you do on a client machine.)
  • MattLucas1505 Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
    Tibor - I'm not sure I understand you either. Do you mean you have set up Time Machine on the server as you would on a normal client or desktop machine?
    As in, you have gone into System Preferences/Time Machine on the server and set it to back up to another internal (or external) disk?
    How do you go about restoring lost data in that case, because surely you won't have read access to the backed up user profiles, or write access to the active user profiles?
  • tibor.moldovan Level 1 Level 1 (125 points)
    Right, that's what I'm saying.

    The server administrator account does have read/write permissions to the user profiles.
    (Provided you set it up that way of course. We set ours through ACLs.)
  • Ziv Jacoby Level 3 Level 3 (655 points)
    That means that only the admin can restore files.

    I think that this is not what was meant by the time machine developers. Secondly giving permissions to the directory admin to have access to all users data is wrong (at least in our organization).
    Anyways I thank you all for your responses as I understand that having time machine backup to network users can not be achieved.

  • tibor.moldovan Level 1 Level 1 (125 points)
    Yes, Yes, only admin can restore files. That's probably where the misunderstanding was.
    No, our users, well vast majority of them, would not be capable of restoring their own docs.

    Semantically speaking, our directory admin account does not have the access to the files, but rather the server admin one does. As does the root account.

    Sorry I was of no help
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